Place to visit in Istanbul
Most people who come to Istanbul land feet first in Sultanahmet. This peninsular (known as Sarayburnu) juts out at the apex of the Bosphorus, the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara. Rich in history, it's a natural magnet to millions of tourists every year. The home of Topkapi Palace, Aya Sophia, the Blue Mosque, Yerebatan, and the Hippodrome, Sultanahmet is filled to bursting with hotels, restaurants, cafes, bars, and souvenir shops as well as a plethora of fascinating museums, mosques, markets and historical sites. The main drag, Divan Yolu, is the heartbeat of the area and there are hundreds of tiny back streets and alleyways in which to explore and discover the history of the old city. The labyrinthine Covered Bazaar near Beyazit University is also on this street.
This horn-shaped estuary divides European İstanbul. One of the best natural harbours in the world, it was once the centre for the Byzantine and Ottoman navies and commercial shipping interests. Today, attractive parks and promenades line the shores, a picturesque scene especially as the sun goes down over the water. At Fener and Balat, neighbourhoods midway up the Golden Horn, there are entire streets filled with old wooden houses, churches, and synagogues dating from Byzantine and Ottoman times. The Orthodox Patriarchy resides at Fener and a little further up the Golden Horn at Eyup, are some wonderful examples of Ottoman architecture. Muslim pilgrims from all over the world visit Eyup Mosgue and Tomb of Eyup, the Prophet Mohammed’s standard bearer, and it is one of the holiest places in Islam. The area is a still a popular burial place, and the hills above the mosque are dotted with modern gravestones interspersed with ornate Ottoman stones. The Pierre Loti Cafe, at the top of hill overlooking the shrine and the Golden Horn, is a wonderful place to enjoy the tranquility of the view.
Ortakoy was a resort for the Ottoman rulers because of its attractive location on the İstanbul strait, and is still a popular spot for residents and visitors. The village is within a triangle of a mosque, church and synagogue, and is near çirağan Palace, Kabataş High School, Feriye, Princess Hotel.
The name Ortaköy reflects the university students and teachers who would gather to drink tea and discuss life, when it was just a small fishing village. These days, however, that scene has developed into a suburb with an increasing amount of expensive restaurants, bars, shops and a huge market. The fishing, however, lives on and the area is popular with local anglers, and there is now a huge waterfront tea-house which is crammed at weekends and holidays.
The first sight of Sarıyer is where the İstanbul strait connects with the Black Sea, after the bend in the river after Tarabya. Around this area, old summer houses, embassies and fish restaurants line the river, and a narrow road which separates it from Büyükdere, continues along to the beaches of Kilyos.
Sarıyer and Rumeli Kavağı are the final wharfs along the European side visited by the İstanbul strait boat trips. Both these districts, famous for their fish restaurants along with Anadolu Kavagı, get very crowded at weekends and holidays with İstanbul residents escaping the city.
Relatively unknown to tourists, the suburb of Üsküdar, on the Asian side of the İstanbul strait, is one of the most attractive suburbs. Religiously conservative in its background, it has a tranquil atmosphere and some fine examples of imperial and domestic architecture.
The iskele, or Mihrimah Mosgue is opposite the main ferry pier, on a high platform with a big covered porch in front, often occupied by older local men watching life around them. Opposite this is Yeni Valide Mosgue, built in 1710, and the Valide Sultan’s green tomb rather like a giant birdcage. The Çinili Mosque takes its name from the beautiful tiles which decorate the interior, and was built in 1640.
To the north of Kadikoy is Haydarpasa, and the train station built in 1908 with Prussian-style architecture which was the first stop along the Baghdad railway. Now it is the main station going to eastbound destinations both within Turkey, and international. There are tombs and monuments dedicated to the English and French soldiers who lost their lives during the Crimean War (1854-56), near the military hospital. The north-west wing of the 19th Century Selimiye Barracks once housed the hospital, used by Florence Nightingale to care for soldiers, and remains to honour her memory
Polonezköy, although still within the city, is 25 km. away from the centre and not easy to reach by public transport. Translated as “village of the Poles”, the village has a fascinating history: It was established in 1848 by Prince Czartorisky, leader of the Polish nationals who was granted exile in the Ottoman Empire to escape oppression in the Balkans. During his exile, he succeeded in establishing a community of Balkans, which still survives, on the plot of land sold to him by a local monastery.
Prince’s Islands: Also known as İstanbul Islands, there are eight within one hour from the city, in the Marmara Sea. Boats ply the islands from Sirkeci, Kabataş and Bostancı, with more services during the summer. These islands, on which monasteries were established during the Byzantine period, was a popular summer retreat for palace officials. It is still a popular escape from the city, with wealthier owning summer houses.
A veritable symphony of occident and orient, Beyoglu is the pulsating heartbeat of Istanbul's day and nightlife. Istiklal Street - a paved thoroughfare perpetually swarming with Istanbul's colourful hoi polloi - is at the hub of the metropolis while a maze of narrow winding lanes filled with funky cafes, soulful bars, continental restaurants, historic cinemas, prominent theatres and exclusive shops shoot off in all directions around it. Taksim Square, featuring the impressive Monument to the Republic, heads the parade into Beyoglu's bohemian open-air museum past the Greek Orthodox Aya Triade Church and the French Consulate. A quaint old tramway carries passengers past the Rumeli Han, Cicek Pasaji, Cite de Pera, Atlas Pasaji, Galatasaray Lise, and several elegant consulates to the last stop in Tünel Square. Every year the International Istanbul Film, International Istanbul Music, International Istanbul Theatre and International Istanbul Film Jazz Festivals are held here and in nearby districts. Other annual events include the Bosphorus Festival, Roxy Music Days, Aksanat Jazz Festival and the Blues Festival