Instanbul does it get any better

Instanbul does it get any better ?

Instanbul does it get any better ?

Although thousands of years have passed, Istanbul has maintained its importance due to its geographical and strategic positioning, making it a land bridge between Europe and Asia.  This is a city, rich in the legacy of its past, yet also brimming with activities to entice the modern day traveller. With everything from centuries-old passages hosting curious wonderlands to lush inner-city tea gardens and ornate roof terraces boasting jaw-dropping views of the city, some of the city’s best kept secrets lie within astonishingly easy reach of its most worn paths.

 

“The Bosphorus Strait”, a narrow sea used in the past as a key silk route, runs right through the heart of Istanbul making it a unique destination city.  It connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara, and continues to be an active trade route.  This can be explored with an exciting ferry trip, or alternatively for a more private viewing, there are plenty of opportunities to hire your own boat and enjoy a guided tour whisking you away to some of the beautiful mosques, private homes, and untouched villages that are within the reaches of these waters.

 

The Sultanahmet District, considered the historical heart of Istanbul, is a must on any travellers’ itinerary.  Here in this fascinating quarter of the city, you can immerse yourself in the layers of Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman history, including the twin glories of Istanbul’s “Hagiya Sofiya” and “The Sultan Ahmed Mosque”.  The latter is popularly known as, “The Blue Mosque” owing to the 20,000 blue handmade tiles adorning the walls of its interior.  If you want to avoid the tourist attractions in this densely populated area, sneak off to the cobbled backstreets that will lead you to crumbling Ottoman houses, tiny hole-in-the wall eateries and local fruit shops.

 

Visitors to Istanbul shouldn’t leave without visiting the Grand Bazaar.  There are few experiences in the western world to match it, and visitors are sure to be charmed into purchasing something by the highly skilled salesmen and their offers of bargains.  However, prior to your visit, be sure to practice your techniques in bartering! The brightly adorned rows of endless market stalls and the frenzied environment will keep you captivated for hours.  For more modern day label shopping, the well-heeled district of Nisantasi is where fashionistas roam.  Istanbul is also a mall paradise, some of the more modern of which are directly connected to the Metro system, offering the ultimate in convenience.

 

The Arabic word for heat, “hammam” is a bath ritual distinguished by a focus on ambient steam and massage.  Clear an afternoon and check into the new Aya Sofya Hamami, and be pummeled and scrubbed in style. The Turkish bath or hammam has been around for centuries, playing host to ancient cleansing rituals. Istanbul is lucky to be graced with a large number of these dating back to the Ottoman Era. These beautiful baths are recognizable by their stone domes, which have small holes in to filter light through.