Traveling across the world means you will experience many iconic places, but in our personal experience there is certainly no other place in the world like Istanbul. The hustle and bustle of the crowds, the ancient and modern architecture wrought together in a strange harmony is compelling. It is certainly a place of great variety, the strange and the beautiful intertwining together in a one-of-a-kind way. In many ways the Orient can look like another planet if you’re used to the western world, the crowded and loud markets, the call to prayer by the local muezzin that echoes through the streets, the colorful and unforgettable stores and traditional goods: all of these contribute to what makes Istanbul unique and beautiful for us and undoubtedly part of the experience you’ll see, hear and sense for yourself as well.
As the most popular city in Turkey, Istanbul carries a rich history and cultural heritage that spans many centuries. Being in the middle of an important point between Asia and Europe, sitting on both side of the Bosphorus, Istanbul is a large city with varying population between 12 and up to 19 million people. It has a mild oceanic climate with hot and humid summers typical for the Mediterranean sea. Apart from the local beaches, the greatest treasure Istanbul has is its rich and vibrant culture where great empires have left their traces in the landscape. Muslims, Christians and more inhabit the city and enjoy its sights, motion and trade in a way unlike any other place in Europe. If you ever visit this ancient and proud city, make sure you explore the many attractions and locations around it. You are guaranteed to find something new each day spent here, whether it is an excellent local meal or a piece of local history. We will cover some of what you may find in the following examples:
You may be wondering what a hamam is, and for a good reason. A hamam is the local name for what we call a Turkish bath. This is a purely eastern experience that can’t be seen the same way anywhere else around the world. This is an old tradition, leading to old hamams being present in pretty much any part of Istanbul, though their conditions may vary from place to place. It is certainly worth experiencing at least once to get the idea of how the Turks of days past have lived in this city, as well as travelers who frequented the city. Apart from the usual bath you may experience a massage by local therapists. The area known as Sultanahmet is known for its historical hamams who mostly cater to the influx of tourists.
Traditionally, the nargile was a central part of the social life of the people of Istanbul. The water pipe has spread across the world and has become a popular alternative to smoking. There are many places where one might enjoy a nargile, such as the Yeniçeriler Caddesi, which is located near the Grand Bazaar of Kapalı Çarşı. There are other locations around the city where one might find a nargile lounge if you feel like exploring the ancient city.
In ancient times Istanbul was the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, subsequently better known as the Byzantine Empire. Constantinople was a city known for its strategic significance, serving as a connecting point between Asia Minor and Eastern Europe as well as a focal point for maritime trade routes and warfare. This particular commercial and military importance led to the massive urban development and mix of cultures we see today. The original walls of Constantine were replaced during the reign of Emperor Theodosius and subsequently broken through during the Ottoman siege of the city. They are mostly intact nowadays, so they can be explored in guided tours, though they require care as their ancient construction is not what it used to be.
One can enjoy a great many different types of food in Instanbul, however if you’re looking for a quick snack you shouldn’t miss the Döner. It is a wonderful and cheap food available pretty much everywhere, reminiscent to schwarma. Sandwiches made from local seafood, spices and fresh bread are present in the cuisine you can find on the streets, making Istanbul the king of hearty fast-food meals that stray from the mainstream restaurants of the west.
All of the mentioned sights and aspects of Istanbul are only a small part of what you can experience in the city. The rest can only be seen if you are willing to explore one of the oldest and most impressive capitals of the ancient world yourself.
About The Author: This post was shared by Angie Halpert on behalf of http://travelfromto.com/
Photo Credits: Google Commons