Travel Destination Istanbul

Published: 09/06/2013

Istanbul in Turkey is a popular travel destination, Turkey having many attractions and Istanbul being one of its main cities and the one with the highest population which has now reached over thirteen million. Ankara is the capital of Turkey which is surprising since Istanbul was the capital of The Ottoman Empire and other empires.

Built on seven hills to match the seven hills of Rome, Istanbul was originally named Constantinople after Constantine the Roman Emperor. 

The climate along the coastline is Mediterranean which makes it a beautiful spot to visit during the summer. Tulips, which were originally from Istanbul, were sent to the Netherlands from Turkey and later became known as an international symbol for Holland.

If you're planning a visit make sure you take time out to visit the Grand Bazaar - the biggest old covered bazaar in the world boasting over three thousand shops! Or see a 360 degree view of the city from the top of the Galata Tower (originally named the Tower of Christ) which was built way back in 1348 and formerly used to house prisoners of war and later on used as an observatory.

Other attractions in Istanbul include: the upside down head of Medusa, supporting a column in the Basilica Cistern, an unexpectedly romantic attraction; Aya Sofya, a fabulous church-turned-mosque-turned museum; Topkapi Palace, home to generations of sultans and their wives; Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamam – a 16th century bathhouse with acres of marble and stupendous domes; The Blue Mosque which faces Aya Sofya across a small park; the three-in-one equivalent of the British Museum can be found via the grounds of Topkapi Palace where some amazing local archaeology can be seen; the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum which houses a magnificent collection of gigantic carpets from all over the country;  Suleymaniye Mosque; Chora Church and Galata Tower, just to name the top sites.

Turkish cuisine varies across the country.  The cooking in Istanbul inherits many elements of the Ottoman cuisine with less spices and a preference for rice over bulgur and also a wider use of seafood.

Istanbul has been noted as an inspiration to many authors including Paul Theroux, Ernest Hemingway, Orhan Pamuk and Abdulhak Sinasi Hisar. In fact, 'Murder on the Orient Express', Agatha Christie's famous novel, was written while she stayed at Pera Palas Hotel in Istanbul. 

To sum up the etiquette in Turkey, a ten percent tip is customary in restaurants and taxi fares are usually rounded up.  If you say ‘tut’ and raise your chin, you’re saying ‘no’ and putting your hand to your heart means ‘respect’.  ‘Sherifeh’ is their word for ‘cheers’ and if you fill your own drink, it will be frowned upon.  Always fill your neighbour’s cup.  Wait for the eldest at the table to start eating first.  Never refuse an offer of coffee or tea.  It’s fine to hold hands with same sex friends and touching shoulders and arms while conversing is fine.  Don’t expect too much personal space, though.

Posted in: Travel Destinations
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