Turkey, Europe’s gateway to Asia, is a fascinating country filled with boundless charm. The land of bazaars and surprises invites you to immerse yourself in another world perfumed with the aroma of spices.
The famous talisman, the “evil eye” (nazar), popularly known as the Turkish eye, is testament to the fact that the Turkish are a people of great traditions and superstitions. Turkish people believe this amulet wards off curses (the evil eye) caused by stares cast deliberately or unintentionally by people due to envy or bad feeling.
Roman in origin, and historically a meeting place for the Turkish, discover the true Turkish Bath. In these baths, women would share gossip about the goings on in the town. Its recommended that you go before eating, with a near empty stomach. This way, you will come out feeling as good as new and totally purified.
Beyond the shadow of a doubt, this country is a cultural amalgam, brimming with history.
Description of the area
A blend of history, myth and modernity. The Bosphorus, the strait which separates the Asian and European parts of Turkey makes Istanbul a city living in two worlds.
The ancient Ottoman capital has unique architecture which reflects its enclave and the city’s nobility. Istanbul is a vibrant city with great cultural activity, where visitors will enjoy the history that enshrouds the city; a city where every nook and cranny has its own story.
The city has been occupied by Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans and has been a strategic commercial point in a city accustomed to movement. You will enjoy the Grand Bazaar and the city's eclectic neighbourhoods with their back streets, bars and shops. Discover this world of fabrics, colours and rich exotic gastronomy, savour a tea or purchase a souvenir from one of the fascinating shops.
The charm of its streets and the amiable nature of its people make Istanbul a top destination for holiday makers.
The doner kebab is undoubtedly the most famous Turkish food, it is popular with the locals who consume them on the street at lunchtime, although they are not so commonly eaten at night.
In spite of the fame of the doner kebab, Turkish cuisine goes far beyond this famous way of preparing meat. Enjoy the wonderful soups and mezzes; a large array of hot and cold starters, dolma (stuffed vine leaves), Turkish pizza which is served covered and a large variety of Turkish drinks such as Turkish tea, coffee (different from the type we drink), Raki (anise) and the famous Ayran, liquid yoghurt, the most typical and widely consumed drink in the country.
In the Sultanahmet district:
Santa Sofía. The Church of the Holy Wisdom is one of the most impressive monuments of Old Istanbul. It was completed in the year 537 and was considered the greatest church throughout the Christian world until the city’s conquest in the year 1453. It was then converted into a mosque by Mohamed the Conqueror. The greatest glory of St. Sophia are its brilliant mosaics and huge dome which stands at 55 m in height
The Blue Mosque. With 6 minarets, it is the very essence of grace, proportion and beauty. The mosque gets its “blue” name from the Smyrna (Iznik) tiles that cover its walls.
The Topkapi Palace. A labyrinth of buildings that was the home of Ottoman sultans for almost four centuries, the Topkapi Palace rises over the cape where the Bosphorus and the Gold Horn come together. Today it is Istanbul’s main tourist attraction.
With over 2,000 years of history, it is no wonder there are so many places to visit! Be sure not to miss:
The Hippodrome (Atmeydani). The ancient Hippodrome, which was the setting for chariot races and the centre of Byzantine civic life, is situated in the open air in front of the Blue Mosque. There are three monuments remaining: the Obelisk of Theodosia, the bronze Serpentine Column and the Column de Constantino.
The Sunken Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnici). Steeples, plinths and columns from the ruins of other buildings were reused in the construction of this palace, which is also called the Basilica Cistern.
The Grand Bazaar (Kapali Çarsi). A labyrinth of medieval stalls, some 4,500 in total, which not only includes shops, but also mosques, banks, restaurants and workshops. It is the perfect place to wander around and lose yourself.
The Palace of Dolmabahçe. Built during the mid 19th century by Sultan Abdülmecit I, the façade of the Palace of Dolmabahçe extends for 600 metres along the European banks of the Bosphorus. The reception hall is especially impressive, with 56 columns and an immense crystal chandelier that weighs four and a half tonnes and contains 750 light bulbs.
Shopping is becoming one of the main attractions in Turkey, and will be one of your trips most memorable experiences. In the bazaars of Çikrikçilar Yokusu, you can practice your bartering; the art of negotiating the best price, both for you and the merchant.