+90 212 527 5454
+90 212 527 5450
the Bosphorus, its skyline studded with
domes and minarets, Istanbul is one of
the truly great romantic cities. Its history
tracks back from Byzantium to Constantinople
to its place at the head of the Ottoman
Empire. Today it hums as Turkey's cultural
heart and good-time capital.
this sprawling, continent-spanning city
you can tramp the streets where crusaders
and janissaries once marched; admire mosques
that are the most sublime architectural
expressions of Islamic piety; peer into
the sultan's harem; and hunt for bargains
in the Kapali Çarsi (Grand Bazaar).
by side with Old Istanbul you'll find
hip bars and clubs, flashy executives,
malls and haute cuisine. And then there
is a rich arts culture - opera, music,
cinema - which nods its head to the Ottoman
and Byzantine ways while taking cues from
Europe. All this history, hustle and bustle
coexists around the spine of the Bosphorus,
a constantly busy, heaving mass, dotted
with ships and ferries, and providing
the link between Europe and Asia.
your interest - architecture, art, nightlife,
cuisine, history, religion, shopping -
Istanbul has more than enough of it, at
prices which are among the lowest in Europe.
98 sq km
Population: 13 million
Time Zone: GMT/UTC +2
((+3 in summer))
Telephone Area Code:
212 - European Istanbul; 216 - Asian Istanbul
Bosphorus, the strait flowing between
the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea,
creates a natural north-south divide in
Istanbul - European Istanbul comprises
the bulk of the city to the west, while
Asian Istanbul is to the east. European
Istanbul is itself divided by the Golden
Horn (Haliç) into the old city
to the south, and Beyoglu and other modern
districts to the north.
Old City is where you'll find all the
main sights, such as Topkapi Palace, Blue
Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Camii), Aya Sofya
(Sancta Sophia), the Atmeydani (Hippodrome)
and the old city walls. The 21st-century
version of Istanbul is a short walk north
across the Galata Bridge, and is exemplified
by bustling Taksim Square, the eye of
the city's commercial storm. The Asian
part of the city is of less interest to
are clusters of budget places in the Sultanahmet
district of the old city; Akbiyik Caddesi
in Cankurtaran is the backpacker hub,
other streets nearby are more low key.
The heart of modern Istanbul, Taksim Square
and Beyoglu, are also good places to stay,
with lots of restaurants, theatres and
shops nearby. If you want to spend a bit
more, head for the luxury hotels of Harbiye
and along the Bosphorus. Most cafes are
clustered in Beyoglu, but many are dotted
in the suburbs on both sides of the Bosphorus
and in other well-heeled suburbs. Kumkapi
and Çiçek Pasaji, and Nevizade
Sokak in Beyoglu are home to clusters
of meyhanes (taverns).
Basilica of St. Sophia, now called the
Ayasofya Museum , is unquestionably one
of the finest buildings of all time .Built
by Constantine the Great and reconstructed
by Justinian in the 6th century, its immense
dome rises 55 meters above the ground
and its diameter spans 31 meters. You
should linger here to absorb the building's
majestic serenity and to admire the fine
Byzantine mosaics. (Open every day except
Istanbul has some of the most I exciting
museums, ranging from the magnificent
Haghia Sophia to the intimate Sadberk
Hamm Museum. Entrance fees, where charged,
are very reasonable.
ARCHAELOGICAL MUSEUMS (Arkeoloji
Sultanahmet, Tel: 520 77 40 Across from
the Cinli (Tiled) Kiosk sn Topkap: Palace's
outermost court zs the magnijacent Archaeological
Museum. The first jlooy and the annex
of the museum is open to the public, displaying
a selection of the 60,000 Greco- Roman
and Neay Eastern antiquities in the collection,
including moye than 75,000 inscribed clay
tablets. Don't miss the wonderfully preserved
Alexander Saycophagus found in Sidon and
the treaty of Kadesh, the first peace
treaty evey to be signed in the world.
The museum brings to life the peoples
of the ancient Middle East. Recently opened
special educational section for children.
Open 09.30-16.30. Closed Mondays.
Halaskârgazi Caddesi 250, Sisli
Tel: 240 6319 Ataturk, the foundey of
modern Turkey, lived here briefly. The
house displays some of hrs personal effects.
09.30-16.30. Closed Thuysdays and Sundays.
MUSEUM (Hat Sanatlari Muzesi)
Beyazit Square, Tel: 527 58 51 The Ottomans,
always uneasy with human pictorial representation,
found fulley urtistic expression in calligraphy.
This is the only museum of calligraphy
in the world. 09.00-16.00. Closed Sundays
AND KILIM MUSEUM (Mah ve Kilim Muzesi)
to the Blue Mosque), Sultanahmet, Tel:
518 13 30 A wonderjul collection of ancient
kslsms and carpets in a very cool, marble
environment. Also a large collection ofcarpets.
09.00-12.00, 13.00-16.00. Closed Sundays
LITERATURE MUSEUM (Divan Edebiyati Muzesi)
Galip Dede Caddesi 15, Tünel, Beyoglu,
Tel: 245 4141. Also called the Galata
Mevlevihane, this is where the mystic
"Whirling Dervishes" perform
"Sema" dances and Suf music,
on the last Sunday of every month. A memorable
experience not to be missed. A fine display
of instruments and dervish accessories.
Sultanahmet, Tel: 52217 50 The Church
ofHoly Wisdom is undoubtedly one of the
greatest architectural creations in the
world. Built by the Byzantine EmperorJustinian
circa AD535, it was transformed into a
mosque afler the Ottoman conquest of the
city in 1453. Now a museum, it is awesome
in size, and contains beautifully preserved
Byzantine mosaics. Hanging alongside the
pictures of Chrrst are huge wooden discs
proclaiming the greatness of Allah: a
meeting point of religions. A must for
any visitor to Istanbul. 9.30-16.30. Closed
MUSEUM (The Church of St. Saviour fn Chora)
Kariye Catnu Sokak, Edirnekapi, Tel: 63192
41 A legendary Byzantine church decorated
with extraordinary laté- l4th centuryfrescoes
and mosaics portraying the life and miracles
of Christ. The most important and extensive
series of Byzantine paintings in the city
and among the most significant in the
world. 09.30-16.30. Closed Tuesdays.
MUSEUM (Deniz Muzesi)
Besiktas Tel: 26100 40 Includes examples
of the extraordinary caiques that used
to row the Sultans to and from their homes
along the Bosphorus. 09.30- 17.00. Closed
Mondays and Tuesdays.
Opposite Arasta Bazaar (behind the Blue
Mosque), Sultanahmet, Tel: 51812 05 Houses
the beautiful mosaics discovered in Justinian's
Grand Palace of Byzantium. 09.30-17.00.
OF THE 1839 REFORMS (Tanzimat Muzesi)
Gulhane Park, Tel: 512 63 84 A small museum
celebrating the Ottomans' l9th century
attempt to catch up with the rest of Europe.
Open every day 09.00-17.00.
M. KOÇ INDUSTRIAL MUSEUM
Haskoy Caddesi 27, Sutluce, on the Golden
Horn, Tel: 256 7153/54 A recently opened
museum which gives an excitingglimpse
into Istanbul's industrial past. Displays
include scale models of steam engines,
ships, cars, a full Maklin train set which
visitors can operate and a fully recreated
ship's bridge. Open 10.00-17.00. Closed
Buyukdere Caddesi 27-29, Sanyer Tel: 242
3813 Excellent archaeological and ethnographical
collections displayed in two handsome
old mansions on the Bosphorus.10.30-17.00.
Sultanahmet, Tel: 512 04 80 The legendary
palace of the Ottoman sultans from the
l5th to the l9th centuries. Low buildings
set in a series of courtyards, Topkapi
is quite unlike a Western palace. Be sure
to see the Harem, the Treasury and the
golden-roofed Baghdad Kiosk. 09.30-17.00.
MUSEUM OF TURKISH AND ISLAMIC ART
At Meydam 46, Sultanahmet, Tel: 51813
85, 51818 05 A delightjul museum on the
ancient Hippodrome, housed in Ibrahim
PaSa Sarayi, the home of Suleyman the
Magnificent's Grand Vizier. Beautifully
displayed Islamic objects and antique
carpets.10.00- 17 00. Closed Mondays.
Yildiz Palace, Barbaros Bulvari, Besiktas,
Tel: 258 30 80/ext. 280 The converted
carpentry workshop of Sultan Abdulhamit
now houses exquisite poycelain pieces,
giant vases and the joinery produced by
the Sultan himself. Open 10.00- 16.00.
Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
has hundreds of mosques, both monumental
and intimate. Mosques are open to visitors
every day outside worshipping hours, which
are announced by the muezzins' call to prayer.
All visitors are asked to remove their shoes
and women are expected to cover their heads
before entering. A few of the most architecturally
Sultanahmet Square The mostfamous mosque
in the city, built in the early l7th century,
distinguished by six slendey minarets
and walls covered with amazing blue Iznik
tiles. Open every day except during prayer
times. Facing St. Sophia stands the supremely
elegant, six-minaret, imperial Sultanahmet
Mosque. Built between 1609 and 1616 by
the architect Mehmet.
Eyup For the Islamic world, this is the
holiest mosque in all of Istanbul. The
Ottoman sultans held their coyonation
ceyemonies here. The faithful still flock
here to pray to the yelics of Eyup, a
companion of the Prophet. Be suye not
to visit on Fridays, when the mosque is
packed with woyshippers. Up the hill through
the graveyard is the atmospheric Pierre
Loti Cafe, ofjersng yefreshments and an
arresting view of the Golden Horn.
An 18th century mosque incluenced by baroque
architecture. Consideyed a turning point
in mosque architecture. Ortakoy Mosque
Ortakoy A superb setting on a point jutting
into the Bosphorus. This Ottoman bayoque
mosque displays a wondeyful sculptuyal
MEHMET PASHA MOSQUE
Sultanahmet Near the Covered Bazaay, an
intimate Sinan mosque, built in a conf
ned space, but neveytheless breathtakingly
Beyazit Sinan's masterpiece. The massive
scale of this mosque is best appreciated
from a distance. Up close, the mosque
is formal and rather forbidding, but it
is interesting to wander around the surrounding
complex of buildings.
CAMII (New Mosque)
Eminonu A late example of classical Ottoman
architectuye, this is one of the most
familiar landmarks in the city.
city abounds with churches of various
denominations. A few churches of particular
ANTHINY OF PADUA
Istiklal Caddesi, Tunel One of the city's
best known functioning Roman Catholic
OF ST. GEORGE
Fener The seat of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate.
Serdari Ekrem Sokak 82, Tunel, Beyoglu
A restored Anglican church, formerly known
as the Crimean Memorial church, designed
by the famous Victorian architect C.E.
MARY PAMMAKARISTOS (Fethiye Cami)
Fener, Tel:522 17 50 Many Byzantine emperors
are buried here. Permission to visit must
be obtained from the Haghia Sophia Museum,
09.30-17.00, closed Mondays
SERGIUS AND BACCHUS (Kucuk Ayasofya)
Sultanahmet A Byzanttine church built
in Emperor Justinian's era. A must for
STEPHEN OF THE BULGARS
Fener Styanded in the middle of the Golden
Horn road, this l9th century structure
is built entirely of iyon. It was pyefabricated
in Vienna and sent via the Danube to be
eyected here to celebyate the independence
of the Bulgarian Church.
Duragi, Beylerbeyi Tel: (216) 32193 20
A restored summer palace of the late Ottoman
sultans, buiLt of white marble. 09.30-16.00.
Closed Mondays and Thuysdays.
The formey summer home of the Ottoman
sultans, now rebuilt as part of the complex
of the Ciragan Palace HoteL Kempinski.
Tel: 258 55 44 The l9th century rococco
residence of the Ottoman sultans, and
the place where Ataturk died in 1938.
BeautifulLy situated, with a 600 metre
frontage on the Bosphorus, an impressive
ballroom, and ornate Victorian furniture
embodying the Turkish assimilatian of
European cultulre. Visitors are admitted
in groups, Led by the museum's guides.
Try to go eayly in the moyning, later
in the day it may be fully booked. 09.00-16.00.
CLosed Monday and Thuysday.
Caddesi, Besiktas , Tel: 261 29 91 A sylvan
imperial rest house that remains seyene
in the midst of city traffic. 09.00-17.00.
Closed Mondays and Thuysdays.
KOSKU (Yildiz Park)
Tel: 259 45 70 Late Ottoman imperial palaces,
this time set in the hills above the Bosphorus,
in the leafy Yildiz Park. Sale (Chalet)
Kosku is an elegant wooden building which
served as residance for foreign state
guests and is now a museum, 09.30-16.00,
Closed Mondays and Thursdays.
BASILICA CISTERN (Yerebatan Sarayi)
Yerebatan Caddesi, Sultanahmet Square,
Tel: 52212 59 The vast awesome columned
cavern was the watey souyce foy both the
Gyand PaLace of the Byzantines and for
the Ottomans' Topkapi PaLace. Open 09.00-17.30.
The straits which divide Euyope from Asia
and define Istan6uL. A txip to the city
would not 6e complete without a cruise
up and down its shores. Imperial palaces
are interspersed with wooden seaside mansions,
decorative ferry landings, the twin fortresses
of RumeLi Hisar and Anadolu Hisay, and
two intercontinental bridges. Along the
way, stop to exploye Rumeli Hisar (Open
09.30-1700 except Monday). Sultan Mehmet
had the castle built in 1452 so he could
lay siege to the city. If you take the
circulay touy from Eminonu (2 hours each
way) you can enjoy a fish lunch at Anadolu
Kavag2. Feyry-boats also leave from Eminonu
for various points along the weterway.
Private boats can be hiyed during the
COVERED BAZAAR (Kapali Carsisi)
Has several gates: most used are at Cagaloglu
and Beyazit Istanbul's legendary bazaar,
a labyrinth of over 4000 little shops,
is everything you dreamed an oriental
mayket could be. Gold jewellery, carpets,
siLver bibelots, leather, ceyamics, copper
and bras objects, embroideries, hand-woven
textiles, meerschaum pipes-in othey words
a tyeasure tyove. Best approached from
the Nuruosmaniye I entrance. Open 09.00-19.00
TOWER (Galata Kulesi)
Sokak, Sishane Tel: 2451160 Worth climbing
to the top for the view from this l4th
century Genoese folly. 08.00-21.00. Open
group of nine islands four of them-Kinaliada,
Burgazada, Heybeliada and Buyukada-inhabited.
Afavourite summer place since Byzantine
times, the islands are a haven of quiet.
With their beautiful villas and pine groves,
they offer lovely walks all year round.
No private cars are allowed, so transportation
is either by foot, horsedrawn carriage
or donkey. Ferry-boats leave from Sirkeci,
Kadakoy and Bostanca and sea buses operate
infrequently from Kabatas and Bostanca
(call 362 04 44 for sea 6us information).
A charming excursion.
SPICE OR EGYPTIAN BAZAAR (Misir Carsisi)
An exotic food market and bazaar selling
spices, dried fruits cheeses, olives,
as well as towels, slippers, baskets and
some jewellery. Outside, to the lefL,
there is a wonderful flower and bird market
and to the right merchants busily seLl
vegetables and fish with lots of local
coLour. Open Monday- Saturday 09.00-19.00.
on coast road between Besiktas and Ortakoy)
The Sultans' private park, now open to
the public, with two lovely buildings-Malta
Kosk and Cadir Kosk. Both places have
marvelous terraces. Also don't miss the
elegant wooden Sale (Chalet) Kosku inside
the park which is a museum. The park is
a favourite of courting couples.