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Posts Tagged ‘Istanbul’

Today I’d like to suggest you a quick look at the city of Istanbul with this brief video. I’s a good travel guide through some of the most beautiful attractions in Istanbul, providing you with a dive into the history of Haghia Sophia, built as a Byzantine cathedral and then converted in a Mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453;
a visit into the majestic Sultanhamet Mosque, one of the Istanbul’s finest structures also known as the Blue Mosque for the blue tiles adorning the walls of its interior;
and a walk in the Hippodrome area, the center of the social life during the Byzantine period: built following the model of the Circus Maximus in Rome, the Hippodrome had a capacity to accommodate more than 100,000 spectators, so the most important sporting events were held right here!

It’s just a first taste of Istanbul, and there are lots of other fabulous places to see, so enjoy the video and see you at the next post! 🙂

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Sultanahmet Mosque in Istanbul

Sultanahmet Mosque in Istanbul

Nowadays we’re getting used to short and low budget holidays and the “3 days formula” is becoming the most used to visit a city or take a weekend off. So I decided to start a mini guide collecting useful tips on what to see, where to stay or eat in your 3 days in Istanbul. Let’s start with the “what to see”, the top destinations you can’t miss:

In Sultanahmet:
Topkapi Palace – it takes you at least half a day, but it’s amazing! Although many people see the Topkapi as a too commercial and touristic attraction, I think that with the right mood it may let you understand the real culture and way of life of the Ottoman Istanbul.
Sultanhamet Mosque and Haghia Sophia – the first one, the Blue Mosque, is my favourite. I’m used to stay at a hotel just in front of it, where I can stay on the terrace and admire that great dome and the minarets. Haghia Sophia has a great story too so it’s another place you can’t miss.
Yerebatan Sarnici – I’ve already explained why I love so much this cistern (I was there 3 times), however the beautiful atmosphere you can breath in the red light between the 336 marble columns is unforgettable.
The Gran Bazaar – an incredible mixture of colors, scents, languages, tastes will leave you breathless, and after the first minutes you will love the way they have to call you here and there and to haggle offering you an apple tea!
Sokollu Mehmet Pasa Mosque – I recently discovered this Mosque, and in spite of my love for the Sultanhamet Mosque, I must say that this one is less crowded, fit to understand the real muslim customs, and it has magnificent Iznik tiles. Here I could see the real Adhan, the islamic call to prayer recited by a muezzin (in Istanbul and in other big cities the Adhan is principally tape-recorded)

Out of Sultanahmet:
– walking on the Galata Bridge up till the Galata Tower, proceeding along Istiklal Cad. having a look at the fish market (Balik Pazar) and the flower market (Cicek Pasaji).

Hope you enjoy your 3 days in Istanbul! 😉

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The Yerebatan sarnıcı in Istanbul

The Yerebatan sarnıcı in Istanbul

This is what I found going down in the The Yerebatan sarnıcı (or Basilica Cistern) in Istanbul, just in front of the Hagia Sophia. I’m sorry for the quality of this image, it’s the best I could with that darkness…I love photography but I’m not a professionist! Anyway, I think it gives you the impression of what is the Yerebatan sarnıcı in Istanbul: it’s the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city of  Istanbul, built in the 6th century during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I. After paying the ticket, you’ll discover an underground chamber of 143 by 65 m (470 ft x 210 ft), capable of holding 80,000 cubic metres (2,800,000 cu ft) of water. The most incredible things is the forest of 336 marble columns each 9 metres (30 ft) high, arranged in 12 rows and with Ionic and Corinthian capitals. A fabulous red light spreads in the chamber giving the impression of being shrouded in mystery… In the northwest corner of the cistern crowds of tourists cram together to take picture of the bases of two columns reuse blocks carved with the visage of Medusa. It’s a great sight, and I recommended the Yerebatan sarnıcı to each friend of mine going to Istanbul, each time with the same result: they are astonished at the majesty of Istanbul!

Yerebatan sarnıcı
Yerebatan Caddesi 13,
Sultanhamet, Istanbul

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The Sakip Babanci Museum in Istanbul

The Sakip Sabanci Museum in Istanbul

Last time I went to Istanbul I was with my father, and I had the chance to go with him at an exhibition. It was something concerning transilvanian textiles, I don’t remember. But what caught my eye is the location: the Sakip Sabanci Museum, on a hill in Istanbul‘s Emirgan Park, overlooking the Bosphorus, was built at the beginning of the 20th century in the Italian architectural style, and it’s not just a simple museum in Istanbul. Today it is the modern Sabanci Univerisy’s Museum, equipped with the most advanced museum technology, and a lot of important exhibitions came here: “Picasso in Istanbul“, “An Ottoman Collection in Portugal” from the Lisbon’s Gulbenkian Foundation (which I recommend to everybody, it’s wonderful!), or the “Genghis Khan” exhibition. So, if you want to experience world cultures, just head for the Sakip Sabanci Museum, when you always find incredible surprise!

Sakıp Sabancı Museum
Sakıp Sabancı Cad. No:42
Emirgan 34467 İstanbul
Telephone : +90 212 277 22 00
Fax : +90 212 229 49 14

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Underwater Hotel in Istanbul

Underwater Hotel in Istanbul

Personally I love Istanbul so much that nothing will change to me. I’ll keep on visiting this magic city and its many surprises the same as always. But from 2010 on, there will be another fantastic reason to visit Istanbul: the most spectacular ocean views on the planet. On the ruins of a historical 1930s tobacco factory there will soon be a seven stars hotelunderwater! It will hosts exhibition halls, restaurants, and sea view rooms. You will be able to sea the Istanbul Bosphorus Strait directly from your bed… Priceless!
As the Poseidon Hotel in Fiji, and Hydropolis in Dubai, Istanbul also will have its underwater attraction. The hotel’s inauguration is set in 2010, when Istanbul will be the Cultural Capital of Europe. It will be a luxurious hotel, so not for any budget… This is one of the reason why I wanted to give this information, but I’ll keep on admiring the Bosphorus and the Istanbul sights from another point of view! And also I think that won’t be this underwater hotel the key element in the tourism of Istanbul, don’t you think? 🙂

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In the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul

In the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul

The Topkapi Palace of Istanbul is one of the most interesting place to visit, maybe the first one between the many Istanbul attractions. A complete visit may takes the whole day if you’re eager to see the entire compound, but as Istanbul has a lot of monuments and attractions to see, I suggest you to feel the ottoman fascination of the Topkapi Palace in half a day. The most beautiful and interesting place in the Topkapi is the Harem, where you can feel the history, touch and breath the Ottoman Empire, pretending to be the Sultan of Istanbul in his rooms or a concubin in the courtyard. Visit also the Baghdad Pavillion and the Library of Ahmed III.

For further information visit  Istanbul City Guide

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View from the Hamdi Restaurant in Istanbul

View from the Hamdi Restaurant in Istanbul

Have you ever asked yourself why tourists adore Istanbul? Definitely one of the reason is the position, with the Golden Horn on the one hand and the Bosphorus on the other, and a guaranteed sunset every evening. This is what you’re going to see from the Hamdi Restaurant in Istanbul. From the terrace on the last floor of this restaurant you’ll have the whole Istanbul at your feet, the Golden Horn, the Galata Tower and the Eminonu Mosque… Don’t you feel like a Sultan?

Joking apart, a lot of turkish people suggested me this place to taste the best kebap of the city, and since the best thing you can do while you’re travelling is to follow the local inhabitants advice, I tried many times to go there. But Hamdi Restaurant is so well-known and appreciated, that it’s difficult to find a table. Finally last year I booked a table directly from my hotel and I understood why turkish people speak so well of this restaurant of Istanbul: really tasty kebaps and baklava, 5 stars service, the most romantic view I’ve ever had, and all for a reasonable price! This is what I love in Istanbul: you can live as a Sultan! 🙂
So, this is my first advice for you,
Istanbul travellers:

Hamdi Restaurant
Tahmis Caddesi Kalçın Sokak 17
Eminönü, Istanbul – Turkey
Tel: (0533) 658 80 11

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