Many books have been written, many songs have been sung, many poems have been told, many photographs have been taken to describe Istanbul and the emotions and thoughts that it inspired. The city that dominated the continents, the cradle of civilisations, the capital of Eastern Roman Empire, the house of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, the capital of Ottoman Empire, the meeting point of cultures and civilisations…
Napoleon Bonaparte said once “if the earth were a single state, Istanbul would be its capital” and Edmondo De Amicis proclaimed “Istanbul, a universal beauty where poet and archeologist, diplomat and merchant, princess and sailor, notherner and weterner screams with the same admiration. The whole world thinks that this city is the most beautiful place on earth”.
There are thousand words to describe Istanbul, yet neither words nor any amount of reading or listening are sufficient to truly describe and become familiar with the city.
Only when you walk along its historic streets, when you see with your own eyes the architectural masterpieces of Byzantine and Ottoman Empires in their original setting, when you enjoy the panoramic vistas of its unique location and when you start to explore its mystical beauties, only then will you begin to discover and fall in love with Istanbul.
Taksim / Beyoğlu – Pera
”Pera” means “the other side” in Greek. The city has extended from Galata to Taksim. Pera in Beyoğlu resembles a town in Europe, as a consequence of many foreigners who used to live here. One can always sense the integration of the eastern-western cultures and enjoy the lively atmosphere day and night.Splendid architecture in this region like
St.Antoine Catholic Church and Aya Triada Orthodox Church, Cite de Pera, Galata Mevlevihanesi, the subway (Tünel of the oldest in the world) and Galata Tower mingle with the shopping and entertainment activities. Both of our hotels are 10 minutes of walking distance to this region.
The Bosphorus or Bosporus (Greek: Βόσπορος, Bosporos, Bulgarian: Босфора, Босфора), also known as the Istanbul Strait (Turkish: İstanbul Boğazı), is a strait that forms part of the boundary between Europe and Asia. It is one of the Turkish Straits, along with the Dardanelles. The world`s narrowest strait used for international navigation, it connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara (which is connected by the Dardanelles to the Aegean Sea, and thereby to the Mediterranean Sea).
The shores of the strait are heavily populated as the city of Istanbul (with a metropolitan area in excess of 11 million inhabitants) straddles it. A cheap way to explore the Bosporus is offered by the public ferries that traverse the Bosporus from Eminönü (ferries dock at the Boğaz Iskelesi) on the historic peninsula of Istanbul to Anadolu Kavağı near the Black Sea, zigzagging between the Rumelian and Anatolian sides of the city.
It is also possible to experience the Bosphorus by taking a regular ride in one of the public ferries that travel between the European and the Asian sides. It is also possible to travel by the privately owned ferries available between Üsküdar and Beşiktaş or Kabataş. There are also tourist rides available in various places along the coasts of the Bosphorus. The prices vary according to the type of the ride, and some feature loud popular music for the duration of the trip.
The Historic Peninsula
Hagia Sophia Museum, Topkapı Palace and Museum and the Harem, Blue Mosque, Yerebatan Cistern, St. Irene Church, Archeological Museum, the Hippodrome and the Obelisk, Kariye Museum and Süleymaniye Mosque and its surroundings can be named at first sight. A guidebook of Istanbul can help you discover many others in this region. It takes 10-15 minutes from the hotel by taxi.
The Hamam in Cağaloğlu has been built by the Ottoman Emperor Mahmut 1st in 1741 and still is one of the most popular touristic venues. Separate sections exist for men and women, Turkish coffee and water pipe are served.The region surrounded by the Golden Horn - Marmara Sea and the Historical City Walls encompasses the most beautiful and significant monuments of the city.
The historical peninsula has been the political center of Roman, Byzantian and the Ottoman Empires. Observing the mosques, churches, synagogues, madrasahs, dervish lodges, chapels, palaces, statues, taverns and baths, one can feel that this is the smallest place on earth that includes such a number of historical monuments.
The Prince Islands
The boats to the islands can be taken from various piers, the nearest to our hotel is Kabataş which is only 2 minutes by taxi and 10 minutes by walk. Formerly known as Prince Islands, this is one of the regions of İstanbul, where the nature is most protected.
The four largest (Büyükada, Heybeli, Kınalı, Burgaz) islands are inhabited and motor vehicles are not allowed in those islands. Horse carriages are the only way of transportation. The pleasure of observing the architecture of the last few centuries and smell of the mimosa blooms in spring time is worth making the trip.
Between Taksim and Maslak
Etiler, Levent and Maslak which are known as the Manhattan region of İstanbul create the finance and business centers of İstanbul. The first skyscrapers of İstanbul are also in this region. It takes around 10-15 minutes by subway from our hotels to reach this area.
The buildings at Nişantaşı, Osmanbey and Şişli, dating mostly from the beginning of 19th Century, create the town’s historical structure. Nişantaşı is the center of luxury shopping. Towards Osmanbey and Şişli the quality of shopping changes. The wholesalers of textile and clothing are gathered here.
Compared to the historical old city, this region represents the modern face of Istanbul. Here are the first examples of the 19th century modern architecture. The trade centers, modern shopping malls and skyscrapers open up to the business world.
Places to Shop
Grand Bazaar: The historical marketplace constructed in 1461 over 64 streets with 4000 shops. With numerous taverns, mosques, baths, fountains, shops, coffee houses, restaurants and pudding shops, it is like a little town. It is one of the oldest shopping centers and the biggest indoor market of the world. It is possible to find everything here, souvenirs, copperware, leather, carpets, woodwork, antiques, china, glassware, vintage accessories, coffee, candy. It takes 15 minutes by taxi from our hotels to the Grand Bazaar.
Egyptian Bazaar (Spice Market): Named after the goods, especially spices, that were imported from Egypt at that time and sold here, this market is one of the liveliest locations of the city. In the heart of Eminönü area and very close to the historical peninsula, the market harbours more than 100 shops selling mostly spices and traditional foods. There are also other specialized markets like plant market, fish market, fruits and vegetables market. It’s possible to find all types of cheese, candy, spice, coffee, dried fruits, nuts and sweets. It will take you 10 minutes to get there from our hotels.
Çukurcuma: Famous with its antique shops, Çukurcuma is in Beyoğlu area, known for its history and night life. This quarter is the favorite location for vintage lovers and bargain hunters of household goods and antiques. Both hotels are in 10 minutes walking distance to Çukurcuma.
Street Shopping: For luxury shopping, a taxi will take you to Nişantaşı in 5 minutes, where the world famous brands have their boutiques. For those who prefer streets to malls for shopping İstiklal Street and its intersections as well as Cihangir are worth visiting. Handmade jewelry, vintage clothing and accessories, books and second hand shops are worth seeing.
Cevahir: This is one of the largest malls in the world. It has 10 floors more than 300 shops, 24 restaurants,14 cafes and cinemas. Get ready for timeless shopping. It takes around 10 minutes by subway from our hotels.
İstinyepark: Its modern architecture and well known local and international boutiques, chic restaurants and cafes make this place “in”, not only for shopping but also for showing up. It is 15-20 minutes by subway.
Art and Culture
Every month, there are international festivals organized in various locations of Istanbul, on subjects like film, theater, classical music, jazz. All those premises are easily reachable from both of our hotels by taxi, metro or foot. The Miniaturk at Sütlüce exhibits the miniatures of many significant historical buildings from Turkey and the world. Istanbul deserves to be called, the “Capital of Culture”.
Indeed it is addressed as the 2010 European Capital of Culture. The city itself is like an outdoor museum. Historical museums such as Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum, Archeology Museum, Carpet and Kilim Museum, Mosaic Museum shouldn’t be ignored. Istanbul Modern Arts Museum is the first modern arts museum of İstanbul, Rahmi Koç Museum contains more than 800 technical antiques, Santral Istanbul is a renovated old power house now turned into a museum. There are also cafes in all these places where you may relax and enjoy the food.
Beyoğlu, Taksim, Cihangir, Nişantaşı, wherever you are, it is always possible to find authentic and modern cafes at almost every corner. This cosmopolitan society also reflects itself in the entertainment world. Folk music bars, luxury night clubs, rock bars, jazz clubs, celebrity concerts are vast alternatives. There are no limits to night life. İstanbul is a 24 hour living city and even in sunrise you can hear music on the streets.
For delicious tastes of the world cuisine, 360, Leb-i Derya, Nupera, Aşşk Kafe, Ara Kafe; Rejans may be taken into consideration. Encompassing many night clubs and restaurants, Reina and Sortie face the great atmosphere of Bosphorus. We should not ignore the fish restaurants on the Bosphorus and Haliç. Sebahattin, Barba Giritli, Cibalikapı, Fishmekan, Eftelya, Çengelköy İskele, İsmet Baba and many others…
The meat restaurants, Hamdi, Develi and Beyti, challenge in their style. Still the typical İstanbul restaurants are “meyhane”s. Raki or wine is accompanied by meze’s (small plates of cold food) and fish. Try Refik, Yakup, Cumhuriyet or Kör Agop, Borsa, Haci Baba, Haci Abdullah; Konyalı; Pandelli, Kanaat, Çiya and many other restaurants serve original, traditional, historical Turkish food while many others excel in world cuisine. You can taste sahlep, ayran (drinkable yoghurt), raki, almond paste, fried chestnuts, kokorec (roasted intestines), dolma (stuffed green peppers), fried molasses, boza (fermented barley), and Turkish Coffee in their best, even on the streets.
Istanbul cuisine is a taste which is formed by the integrated style of different cultures that have been here for thousands of years. Greek, Armenian, Jew, Levantine, Circassian, Georgian, Albanian, Lebanese, Arabic cuisines each leave a spice in Turkish cuisine. The effect of the Ottoman Palaces shouldn’t be forgotten. The plenty and fresh supply of ingredients also enriches the cuisine.
Borsa-Harbiye Tel: 0212. 232 42 01
Hacı Baba-Beyoğlu Tel: 0212. 244 18 86
Hacı Abdullah- Beyoğlu Tel: 0212. 293 85 61
Konyalı -Sirkeci Tel: 0212. 513 96 10
Konyalı –Topkapı Sarayı Tel: 0212. 513 96 96
Pandeli-Eminönü Tel: 0212. 527 39 09
Kanaat-Üsküdar Tel: 0216. 553 37 91
Çiya-Kadıköy Tel: 0216. 330 31 90
Hamdi-Eminönü Tel: 0212. 528 03 90
Develi-Samatya Tel: 0212. 529 08 33
Beyti-Florya Tel: 0212. 663 29 90
Refik-Tünel Tel: 0212 .243 28 34
Yakup-Tünel Tel: 0212. 249 29 25
Cumhuriyet-Beyoğlu Tel: 0212. 243 64 06
Kör Agop-Kumkapı Tel: 0212. 517 23 34
Balıkçı Sabahattin-Cankurtaran Tel: 0212. 458 18 24
Barba Giritli-Cibali Tel: 0212. 533 18 66
Cibalikapı Balıkçısı-Cibali Tel: 0212. 533 28 46
Fishmekan-Arnavutköy Tel: 358 51 58
Eftelya-Arnavutköy Tel: 0212. 287 21 40
İskele-Çengelköy Tel: 0216. 321 55 06
İsmet Baba-Kuzguncuk Tel: 0216. 553 12 32
360 İstanbul-Beyoğlu Tel: 0212. 251 10 42
Leb-i Derya-Beyoğlu Tel: 0212. 243 43 75
Nupera-Tepebaşı Tel: 0212. 245 60 70
Aşşk Kafe-Kuruçeşme Tel: 0212. 265 47 34
Ara Kafe-Galatsaray Tel: 0212. 245 41 05
Rejans-Galatasaray Tel: 0212. 244 16 10
Reina-Kuruçeşme Tel: 0212. 259 59 19
Sortie-Kuruçeşme Tel: 0212. 327 85 85
Cağaloğlu Hamamı-Cağaloğlu Tel: 0212. 522 24 24
Istanbul with Numbers
27- The most expensive cities in the world
22.000- number of taxis
25.000 – number of restaurants
%60 – Istanbul’s share in Turkey’s total import-export
28.5 – Highest average temperature (July)
3.2 – Lowest average temperature(January)