The city of aromas, colours, flavours. The Istanbul of the imams, of Europe, of the mosques, of the bazaars, of the Bosphorus. The city and everything you need to see even once in your life.
Visit Hagia Sophia
The first thing you will see in the city, for all the reasons, is, of course, the Hagia Sophia, in the area of Sultanahmet, the oldest part of the city, where the Blue Mosque, the Aqueduct, the Topkapi and the famous church that, after being transformed, are located in a mosque, now functions as a museum. The building dates from the 6th century and is one of the best examples of Byzantine architecture. The mosaics that were covered during the 500 years that the church was turned into a mosque are now presented in all their magnificence.
Continue to the Blue Mosque
Directly opposite the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque is the next most recognizable monument in Istanbul. With its characteristic six minarets and the impressive round dome, while its official name is “Sultan Ahmet Mosque”, it is the 21,000 Iznik tiles of blue, white and red colour that adorn its ceilings from the 17th century and from them, it got the “Nickname” Blue. The mosque is still functioning normally today, so you should adjust your visit to hours other than those of the five daily prayers, while on Fridays, the mosque is closed.
Take a tour of Topkapi
Continuing from the two temples, you will reach Topkapi, which was the official residence of the sultans of the Ottoman Empire from the 15th century until the construction of Dolmabahce. Wealth, aesthetics, art, history. And yes, as far as the life of the sultans is concerned, you will see it here, while you will enjoy the fascinating image of the City, as it spreads at the foot of the Palace.
Shop at the Grand Bazaar and at the Egyptian Spice Market
In the Old Town, the 550-year-old Kapalitsarsi – as it is called in Turkish – is the oldest and largest indoor market in the world, which you can remember from its… roofs, as it shot the first scene of the movie “Skyfall” with James Bond being chased by motorcycles! Get ready to walk among 4,000 benches, where you will find everything from ornaments, Turkish souvenirs, cups of coffee to handmade rugs!
After the Bosphorus, it is time to enter the most majestic palace, the residence of the last sultans and the last residence of Kemal. Absolute luxury, an attempt, then, the Ottoman Empire to show that it is not inferior to luxury, art and aesthetics from the West, decorated in the interior by a French decorator, with the most oversized chandeliers in Europe brought from England, with complete order and discipline reminiscent of the last inhabitant of the palace (in fact the palace clocks have been stopped at the time of Ataturk’s death). The visits are made with organised guided tours every hour, with Turkish guides; while inside, keep in mind why photos are not allowed.
Of course, to cross the whole area of Istanbul, you will need to use some means of transport. One option is transportation, but ideally, you could hire a car to move quickly not only to the places mentioned earlier but also to other parts of the city. Explore the famous locations but also the most “hidden” corners, renting a vehicle from the company Enjoy Travel, which has dozens of service points throughout the country, offering you cars at unbeatable prices and offers.