Istanbul Travel Blog

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Istanbul as a dynamic metropolis was the European Capital of Culture in 2010. Extremely favorable geographical location of Istanbul, which is situated on two continents across the Bosphorus strait, busy international waterway for ages, makes it unique in the world and hardly comparable to any other city.

During the excavation works of the Marmara Subway project, a settlement has been discovered. It brings to light the 8500 years of historical development of Istanbul as a setllement and civilisation center. Because of its strategic position, Istanbul was the capital city of several civilisations.  Due to plenty of magnificent monuments, Istanbul was declared a World Heritage Site under UNESCO protection.

A visitor cannot see or experience the city with its all glorious colours in just a couple of days. You will need a couple of weeks for all its museums, mosques and kulliyahs, churches and synagoges, theological schools, palaces, pavilions, residences, mausoleums, galleries, towers and monuments, hammams,  fountains, aqueducts and cisterns, city walls and gates, ancient bazaars, caravan serais, restaurants, libraries, cemeteries, mausoleums, dervish lodges, famous streets, avenues and woods, etc.

You have to take a long walk among streets to get to feel it, without using the public transportation if you are a real explorer. My decision was to find all hidden gems in each part of the city and collect them here in my blog.

After geting out of the airport I bought the Istanbul Card, which cost five liras and refilled it. It is valid permanently and it reduces the cost of the tickets in buses and metro. My first time in Istanbul, at the Taksim square,  I had a huge help of a kind Turkishman who took me to a nearby street where he helped me first to exchange euro into liras in a machine. Then he came back with me to the metro- underground station and helped me to buy a ticket before entering the platform.

In Istanbul nobody can feel like a stranger. In every shop they have a shopassistant who speaks your language. When you enter into a shop, first what they ask you is where you come from.

When I was first time in Istanbul, I asked where I could buy nice clothes and I was sent to the Cevahir Mall in Sisli. At the entrance there is a control just like when you enter at the court. The mall is enorme, with a great offer in a wonderful supermarket as well as many nice boutiques.

On the half way between the mall and the Dolmabahçe Palace there is the Military Museum( Askerî Müze, Harbiye Mh.). Here a marching band plays Ottoman military music- mehter every day from 3-4 p.

Dolmabahce Palace
m. On Fridays, an hour and a half prior to noon namaz they take performance in front of the Sultan Eyup Mosque. In summer you can watch their performance at the first courtyard of the Topkapi Palace, under the Babusselam Gate,  on Wednesdays at 11a.m. and outside the Dolmabahçe Palace on Tuesdays at 10a.m. Mehter is the history’s first military band, formed to inspire the Osmanli forces and instill fear in their enemies. It led to the formation of similar military bands throughout Europe.
In Spain there is a musical style called a la turca,  Beethoven composed Turkish March in The Ruins of Athens and Mozart-  Turkish Rondo.

Turkish cuisine is one of the best in the world, with a rich selection of dishes for everybody's taste. If you are a gourmand this is the right coutry for you. Their cousine is very like to the cousines of all coutries which once were a part of the Osmanli Empire. If you do not have time to sit inside of a restaurants and wait for food, then a tasteful sandwich or a cevrek( a very tasteful roll in a form of a ring sprinkled with sesame seeds) could be the best choice to "refill your batteries". I saw many locals eating a fish sandwich bought directly from the boat Tarihi Eminonu Balikcisi Derya and decided to try it too. It costs five liras  for a fresh grilled fish called istavrit, served together with a onion and letuce. They give you a wipe to wash your hands and you can eat the sandwich leaning on one of their tables.

Fishing is a favourite hobby for many citizens of Istanbul.

You'll see them with fish sticks standing at the Galata Bridge waiting to catch something for a lunch or maybe just relaxation.  You'll see the same scene at Uskudar, in the Anatolian side of the city, not so far from its port.

My first time in Istanbul  I did not know where to sleep, so I chose Hotel Art in the Laleli quarter and a little street near the corner with the Aksaray Cd. In this quarter many shops have something written in Russian language on the windows.  The hotel itself was not of my type. I had to remember its name not to make the same mistake twice. I went several times out of the hotel in different directions, so I thought I had remembered its location good enough to make once a shortcut. Actually I got lost wandering in small streets inside of the same quarter and stopped by a little market to ask for a direction. Btw, I bought there for six liras a kilogram of wonderful baklava with pistachios, to eat it when I came back to my country. Unlike Turkish, our baklava is made with wallnut, what is the best quality core we have.

In the market there was also an another customer, a Turkishman who heard my conversation with the vender, and offered my friend and me to take us to the hotel by his car. His wife, who was waiting in the car in front of the market, was also a foreigner from another Asiatic country. She did not say a word unlike her husband. He explained to us that she did not speak any other language. We were in front of our hotel after a few streets. I want to emphasize here that I was in many situations where always got the best help of the Turkish people.

All over the former Ottoman Empire were built hammams- the public bathhouses. There are still several hamams in use in Istanbul. Cagaloglu Hammam ( 1741) is one of the biggest double baths of Istanbul. It was constructed during the reign of Sultan Mahmut I. The separation of cold/ warm and hot  sections of this baroque building is quite unusual for classical Ottoman architecture. In the middle of the hammam there is a massive marbled platform gobek tasi, and on the corners there are arched halvet rooms( privat).

Gedikpasa Bath, located  in the same named street, on the opposite side of the Grand Bazaar, was built in 1475 to mimar Hayrettin, one of the most famous architects of the Ottomans. There are separate section for women and men. Other popular hammams are: Cemberlitas H. ( 1583), Cinili H. ( 1642), Haseki Hurrem H. ( 1556), Haydar H. ( 1569), Mimar Sinan H. ( 1583), Suleymanije H. ( 1557), Patrona H.- Beyazit H. ( 1506), Tahtakale H. ( 15th c. ), Kucuk Mustafa Pasa H. ( 1477), Cardakli H. ( 1503)- only ruins today.

As we lived once in the same country, there are songs that sing about Istanbul in my language. One of the most popular is sevdalinka U Stambolu na Bosforu, singing about the past times and customs. Whenever I think about Istanbul,  I always remember the song Istanbul, sung by lovely singer Ljiljana Nikolovska, a member of the Magazin pop group from Split. The song was a hit in the summer of 1985.

This charming, beautiful, wonderful city will attract you day and night and no matter how long you stay here, you'll feel sorry for leaving it.

You will miss its lights, the smell of the sea and food, colours of the day and night. Leaving Istanbul you will not be the same as before, but richer for a new wonderful experience.


vicIII says:
Thanks for your detailed story!:)
Posted on: Apr 18, 2017
alectrevor says:
I love Istanbul
Posted on: Apr 12, 2017
starship1 says:
I visited Istanbul for 2 days a few years ago and really enjoyed it. But 2 days was not nearly enough time to really soak in the atmosphere of the city!

Nice blog!
Posted on: Apr 07, 2017
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