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Gallivant round the city of Istanbul for an enthralling getaway!

The only city in the world, which spreads over two continents, Istanbul lies at a point where Asia and Europe are separated by a narrow strait, the Bosphorus. With a tumultuous history of over 2,500 years, Istanbul has historically been the capital of three empires, the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman. There is thus scintillating evidence of architecture from various ages and cultures scattered all over the city. Though plundered as many times as it had been adorned, it was mostly movable valuables that invaders made off with. Buildings that have withstood the test of time can still be visited by keen travelers. The best time to visit Istanbul is in the spring. This way you will escape the extreme winter and the tourist hordes that descend upon the city in the summer.

Places to visit – Sultanahmet, Istanbul’s Old City, houses most of the must see locations of the city, all within easy reach of one another. This long cobbled area, a World Heritage site, is surrounded by a multitude of Ottoman and Byzantine era treasures. To the eastern side is the exquisite Blue Mosque, toward the north lies the Byzantine Hagia Sophia and to the northwest spot the Basilica Cistern.

With its six minarets and sweeping late Ottoman era/Islamic style of architecture, The Blue Mosque is a sight to behold. Still a working mosque, it is considered to be the last of the great mosques of the classical period. Make it a point to visit, and once you’re adequately impressed by the structure, take time out to admire the thousands of handmade blue ceramic tiles that line the interior. Do remember to ask your Istanbul tour and travel guide for rules and appropriate dress codes before visiting. The towering Hagia Sophia dates from the 6th century. The structure has undergone a number of changes in identity; from an eastern orthodox cathedral to a roman catholic church, it became a mosque in the 15th century and was finally secularized into a museum since 1935.

Topkapi Palace – The primary residence of the Ottoman Sultans for four centuries. Lavish and grand, the palace also houses the Prophet Mohammed’s belongings. Ensure your Istanbul guide points you to the section featuring the Ottoman treasures and jewelry, an eye-popping introduction to the opulence and beauty of their time!

Things to do – The nighttime cruise on the Bosphorus is an ultimate Istanbul experience. With a continent on either side and a belly dancer to provide amusement, complete the experience by admiring the grand view of lighted up palaces and mansions on the western bank. Cross over to Beyoglu, Istanbul’s New Town, for its buzzing nightlife and music scene. Spend your days shopping and museum hopping.

A visit to the Grand Bazaar is mandatory. Spend a day in the chaotic alleys of the grand bazaar and check out its grossly overpriced souvenirs. It is one of Asia’s oldest and largest covered markets, with 61 streets and approximately 3,000 shops dealing in carpets, ceramics, textiles, fashion and jewelry. A short walk from the Grand Market is the Spice Market that has been dealing in nuts, fruits, olives, oils, essences and spices since the 17th century. A gastronomic paradise, this market is not as overpriced as its neighbour.

In case you’ve planned your visit in the spring, you’ll be in for a treat, with Istanbul’s Tulip Festival around the corner, the gardens and parks will be a riot of color! When one plans a trip to Istanbul, typically the itinerary is planned around visits to the world famous architecture (some of which are mentioned above). However on getting there, one realises that it’s not only the famous landmarks but also the exploration of every little cultural nook and history filled corner that counts towards having an enthralling experience in this fascinating city!

Gallivant round the city of Istanbul for an enthralling getaway!  

The only city in the world, which spreads over two continents, Istanbul lies at a point where Asia and Europe are separated by a narrow stra...

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