There are many legends about the Maiden’s Tower which is on a small island in the Bosphorus. The tower is a symbol of Üsküdar and also Istanbul. The most known legend is the legend of a princess. Legends says, a foreseer makes a prediction to the King that the princess will die as a result of a snakebite. Because of that, king has a castle built in the Bosphorus in order to protect the princess. Princess continues her life in the middle of the sea and grows up in the castle. However, the prediction made by the foreseer comes true and a snake hiding a fruit basket carried to the princess bites and kills her.
The island was a cemetery when the Greek’s were in Istanbul. After that, the Byzantines built the castle to use as a boarding station. And in the Ottoman times, the castle used as a show platform, defense castle and a prison. But it always had been a lighthouse for the ships passing through the Bospohorus. Today, it is one of the symbols of İstanbul and a historical sightseeing with its beautiful Byzantine architecture and location. You can take the boats from Üsküdar to go there and eat at the restaurant inside it.
Have you ever wondered the hamams (old Turkish public baths)? Süleymaniye Hamam is the best and most historic way to try it.
The Süleymaniye Hamam was designed and built between 1550 and 1557 by Mimar Sinan for the Magnificent Süleyman. He made over 400 buildings during his life (he is also architecture of Suleymaniye Mosque) and Building is one of the most famous ones. The Ottoman sultans also used this hamam back in the time. The building is situated on a hill facing the Golden Horn. Hamam is a traditional bathhouse consisting of three sections: cold, lukewarm and hot. The Turkish bath attracts many tourist who wants to try the traditional bath of Turkish culture. It is the only Turkish bath in Istanbul where men and women bathe together.
In the hamam, a staff called tellak massages you. You don’t just bath and go. It is a place for relaxing, having a massage, waiting in the sauna and doing peeling. Suleymaniye hamam is a very nice hamam with its domes and geometrically aligned chimneys. It has 8 marble coloms around the central massage stone.
The hamam is 35€ for each person including the clothes. Not all the staff knows English (even if it is a touristic place) but they have instructions in many languages.
Ortaköy is a cozy, warm and friendly neighborhood with many old buildings and a great sight. It is like a village in the middle of Istanbul. Ortaköy is close to the Bosphorus Bridge and this gives it a special view of the sea from the dock. The sightseeing is not only about the Bosphorus, also it is very pleasant to walk in the lovely streets which full of restaurants, cafes, antique shops, jewelerys kiosks, artist galleries and relaxing, quiet bars.
You will find many things to see or buy in the narrow streets of Ortaköy. And you can navigate yourself by looking the Ortaköy Mosque so you wouldn’t get lost. While you are in Ortaköy, a must to do thing is trying baked potatoes and waffles which are very famous there. You will definitely see the kiosks. Even if they are a bit more expensive than the other places, they put so much toppings on it. After you finish your tour in the cozy streets you can take the Bosphorus tour from there and sail to the Bosphorus. If you are in Istanbul and want to escape from the traffic and the crowd, don’t miss going to Ortaköy. And don’t hurry in your tour, spend some time relaxing.
Çiçek pasajı (Flower Passage) is on the Istiklal Avenue which is the busiest street in Istanbul. It connects İstiklal Avenue with Sahne Street. You may recognize the passage of the architecture it has when you are walking through the Istiklal avenue. The building was opened in 1876 and used as a spot for local flower-sellers.
Even if the name of the passage is still Flower Passage, today it is a home to many restaurants, taverns and shops. It is a very lively area if it is not rainy. Even if you don’t want to sit in a restaurant or buy something, it is worth to see because of its lovely architecture and fantastic ambiance. If you want to sit in a restaurant, it is recommended to bargain for a fixed price otherwise you can be surprised with the bill. If you are already in Taksim and want to see a lovely and historical place it is a must-see place. It can be a escape from the tiring crowd of Istiklal avenue.
The Galata Bridge is a bridge that connects the Karaköy with Eminönü. It is on the Golden Horn which is in the Bosphorus. Galata bridge can be opened when a big ship passes through.
When you want to go between Eminönü and Karaköy, you will need to use the Galata Bridge. You can take the tram to pass the other side but if you want to enjoy the bridge, walking is recommended. If you walk on the top of the bridge, you will see the local fisherman. It is a good point to fishing.
But if you are more interested to sit and enjoy longer, you should take the way under the bridge. There are lots of restaurants and bars under the bridge. Eating fish is very common in the Galata Bridge and they are usually fresh because the local fisherman catches the fish just near the restaurants. The other thing to do in the bridge is drinking the local alcoholic drink: rakı. Almost all of the places in the bridge sells rakı and most of the people goes there to drink rakı. It is actually quite a good place to drink it because of the amazing view of the Bosphorus Bridge and the smell of the sea.
When you walk through the bridge, you will see the staff of the restaurants will be very insistent about calling you. But make sure you find a place to sit you can see the view of Bosphorus Bridge.
When you visit İstanbul, there are few sights you must see and Topkapı is definitely one of them.
Topkapı Palace was the residence of the Ottoman sultans. And also it was the administrative and educational center of the state. The palace used for state occasions and royal entertainments too. If you walk through the alleys of the palace, you will feel the spirit of the Ottoman culture.
And to see the harem will be a different experience to understand the century of Ottomans and feeling like you are one of the people in that time. The amazing architecture is also beautiful in winter afternoons. But if you like walking in the gorgeous gardens and enjoying the view of the Bosphorus, it is better to go there in a good weather. And if you are lucky enough, you can see the jewelry displays. In the Topkapı palace, you can find a small museum which sells souvenirs. You can buy some souvenirs or you can wear traditional Turkish clothes to feel like an Ottoman and take photos with them.
If you are more interested to see the culture of the Istanbul more than the nightlife, here is what to do in Istanbul:
Istanbul is a very old city and has a big cultural heritage. Istanbul has a very colorful structure because of the cultural and sociological diversity. When you are walking in the streets of Istanbul you can easily feel the effect of the Byzantine architecture and then Ottoman architecture and finally modern European architecture. All these cultures are still living in the spirit of Istanbul. Best way to see that is to do some sightseeing. For example, if you go to Sultanahmet you can see the Basilica Sistern which is a Byzantine structure.
It was made for finding drinking water but has a magical and mystical view worth to see. Another Byzantine architecture is Galata Tower. It is the silhouette of Istanbul and a good place to get a bird’s-eye view of Istanbul. After that, if you want to see the Ottoman effect, you can go to Süleymaniye Mosque, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace and Aya Sofya. Seeing them will help you to understand the Ottoman culture and will help you to imagine the old Istanbul.
Hi, I am Michiel. I have visited Istanbul in April of 2013. First of all I should say i really loved Istanbul! To be honest I wasn’t expecting to be amazed that much.
Although the city looks like “a modern Ottoman city” (because of the architecture and mosques) it is easy to feel the effects of Mediterranean culture. Even not too many people can speak English, most of the people tries to help you. They are really warm, friendly and hospitable yet sometimes it is better to not to trust everyone. I am not saying it because of a bad experience but because what I have heard. If you are a tourist, some people (especially taxi drivers) may try to charge you more than normal.
Byzantine architecture is not dead yet. You can easily feel it when you walk in the streets in Taksim. But also it is easy to see Ottoman architecture and culture. So if you like history like me, you will enjoy to discover Istanbul. I highly recommend Turkish food. Don’t be afraid to try when you see something new. You won’t regret. Especially if you see ice cream sellers in Taksim with traditional clothes, try it! You will have a surprise show!
Istanbul is a very crowded city with many kinds of people. This diversity creates a colorful atmosphere. Taksim is the main center of the Istanbul and you can find all kinds of people and places there. Istiklal avenue, which is in Taksim, is the most lively and dynamic street in the Turkey. If you want to have some fun party at night in Istanbul, Taksim is the perfect place for it.
If you are in Taksim and it is a bit early to start partying, you could consider to start drinking in a pub. You can start the night in a cozy place near the tunnel district. You can have some drinks in House Café, Café Pi, Asmalı Pera or at Publico. But if you are more interested to see some traditional drinks and places, you can go to Asmalı mescit or walk to Galata Bridge and have a rakı. And if you are going to drink rakı, it is recommended to try some traditional food with it.
After pre drinks, you can visit Tektekçi for some shots and warm up a little bit. The music and the people drinking outside and dancing will ready you to the night. After midnight, you can go to Küçük Beyoğlu district to go to a bar or go to music halls like Babylon, Indigo, Joly Joker. And finally, if you want a after party, you can go to Machine and dance like crazy!
Turkish cuisine has been mainly influenced by Ottoman, Mediterranean and Balkan cusines. In Istanbul, restaurants are mainly based on traditional Turkish food. But there are also many Italian, Chinese, French and American cuisine restaurants too.
Breakfast is very important in Turkish cuisine. Breakfast should include many variations and choices. It is common to sit a long time in the breakfast table. It is highly recommended to have a long breakfast around the Beşiktaş. The smell of the sea and the view of the Bosphorus will make your breakfast even more attractive. But if you don’t have time for that long breakfast, you can always choose “simit”.
For the dinner there will be many choices to eat. If you are interested in Turkish food and want to try, the most common ones are: döner, kokoreç, gözleme, kebap and lahmacun. And also if you are near Taksim, you can try the wet hamburgers which are famous in Taksim. After you finish your dinner, the best thing to do will be trying a dessert. If you go to Karaköy, you can find the most famous (and probably the best) Turkish dessert restaurant: Güllüoğlu. Baklava is the most favorite and must-try dessert in the Güllüoğlu.