Istanbul Booking Hotel e Touristic Information
Search hotels in Istanbul
Istanbul – The City of Trend, Pleasure and Desire
Istanbul was dubbed as the city of modern trend, great pleasures and many desires. And it would not take you long to know why.
The city has two contrasting faces. One side features the rich culture and history of Istanbul which is highlighted by museums, important historic buildings and art galleries.
Meanwhile the city swings into a high velocity, mega-stylish action-packed district at night. An array of clubs, restaurants and bars transform the city into a vibrant haven where you can enjoy a unique nightlife and all the finest things that life can offer.
So whatever plans you want to do in Istanbul, you will surely find the right elements to make your vacation truly memorable and exciting.
A Glance in the Past
The earliest sign of civilization in Istanbul was a Neolithic settlement at Yenikapi in the 7th millennium BC. Then a thousand years after, in the 13th and 11th centuries BC, Thracian tribes settled in the area and established two settlements – the Lygos and Semistra – on Surayburnu (Seraglio Point).
The history of Istanbul began at 660 BC, when a tribe from Megara, under the command of King Byzas, built an acropolis at Lygos and Semistra known as Byzantium.
At the 5th century BC, the city was conquered by the Persians. But it was later recaptured by the Greeks during the Greco-Persian Wars. It continued as a part of the Athenian League before finally gaining Independence in 355 BC. And in AD73, Byzantium became a part of the Roman Empire.
When Constantine I (Constantine the Great) defeated Licinius in 324, he became the emperor of the whole Roman Empire. Two months after his great victory, Constantine I transformed the ancient Byzantium colony into the new imperial residence and Nea Roma (New Rome). He called it Constantinople or the city of Constantine.
The shift of Roman power has brought progress to the old Byzantium settlement. Churches were built and the defenses of the city were fortified. And for centuries Constantinople became the largest and wealthiest city in the west.
In 1202, during the Fourth Crusade, Constantinople began to decline. It was destroyed and ravaged by Catholic Crusaders. Although weak and defenseless, Constantinople was restored. However, the city did not fully recover its former strength and glory. It became more vulnerable to attacks.
In the 14 century, Ottoman Turks planned a series of attacks to the city. And after an eight day siege, on May 1453, Sultan Mehmed II “The Conqueror” captured Constantinople. He declared it as the new capital of the Ottoman Empire and proclaimed the grand Hagia Sofia cathedral into an imperial mosque.
After capturing Constantinople, Mehmed II revitalized the city and called it Istanbul. He made a cosmopolitan society consisted of Jews, Christians and Muslims.
In the 18th century, Mehmed II built the Grand Bazaar and Topkapi Palace which was the official residence of sultans for four hundred years. And later in that century, Istanbul was truly transformed from a citadel of Christianity to a symbol of Islamic Rule.
From 1520 to 1566, Istanbul experienced great artistic and architectural achievement. Suleymaniye Mosque and other grand buildings were built around the city. Meanwhile Ottoman Arts such as ceramics, miniature and calligraphy flourished.
During the rise of Sultan Mahmud II and the Tanzimat period in the 19th century has aligned Istanbul to the Western European Standards. Bridges were constructed across Golden Horn. Then in 1880s the city has been connected to the rest of Europe through the European railway network.
During the Young Turk Revolution and the World War I, the city has suffered from massive damages. However, from the late 1940s, Istanbul underwent great progress. New public squares including the Taksim Square, boulevards and avenues were built throughout the city.
This has then marked the new era for Istanbul.
As the city of modern trend, great pleasures and many desires, Istanbul offers a diverse range of historic places and tourists spots. As a matter of fact, the historic areas in the city were added to UNESCO world heritage list in 1985. And Istanbul has also been chosen as the European Capital of Culture in 2010.
Places to See:
Hagia Sophia or “Holy Wisdom” was originally a Catholic Christian Cathedral built during the Byzantium Period. Throughout the years it has served as an Orthodox patriarchal basilica, then later a mosque when Mehmet II conquered Istanbul in the 15th century and today, a popular museum in Istanbul.
It is famous for its massive size, impressive architecture especially its huge dome. Hagia Sophia has also been regarded as the epitome of Byzantium architecture. The museum also boasts of beautiful and stunning frescoes and mosaics. All of these factors have made Hagia Sofia one of the most visited tourist attractions in the city.
Topkapi Palace was the official residence of Ottoman sultans for 400 years starting from 1465 to 1856. It was built by Sultan Mehmed II “the Conqueror” when he conquered Constantinople in 1453. It is majestically located in one of the seven hills of the city offering panoramic views over the Golden Horn and Bosphorus River.
The Palace became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985 and one of the monuments and edifices considered as “historic areas of Istanbul”. Today, it houses the holiest relics of Islam – the cloak and sword of Prophet Mohammed.
Turkish and Islamic Art Museum
The Turkish and Islamic Art Museum was a palace of a grand vizier, Ibrahim Phasa. It was considered to be the grandest palace and residence next to the royal palace, that whatever built during the Ottoman period.
Today, the palace houses a notable collection of Ottoman Turkish Art from tiles, metalwork and manuscripts as well as the Islamic calligraphy. It has also preserved the richest and oldest collection of kilims, carpets and payer rugs.
Sultan Ahmed Mosque (The Blue Mosque)
Sultan Ahmed Mosque or commonly known as the Blue Mosque was the first imperial mosque built after the wars of Persia. It was called the “Blue Mosque” because of the 20,000 blue colored Iznik tiles embellished with tulip designs which adorned its interiors.
The Mosque boasts of smaller domes with 260 stained glass windows which leave an impression of open space and graceful accord. These domes were further highlighted with 6 slender towers called minarets.
Today, the Blue Mosque is still used a sacred place for prayer. But because of its legendary features, it became one of the most favorite places to visit in Istanbul.
Other interesting places to visit in Istanbul include:
The Spice Market, The Grand Bazzar, Princes Islands, Dolmache Palace, Taksim Square, Galata Tower, Sunken Palace
As one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world, Istanbul offers a diverse range of accommodation that suits every needs, requirements and budget of even the most meticulous traveler.
You can find numerous 5 star hotels, 4 star hotels as well as standards hotels conveniently located near the top tourist attractions & commercial establishments in the city. These hotels can provide you with all the comforts and conveniences fit for a royalty. Assuring you of the most pleasurable and relaxing stay.
Meanwhile, there are also a wide range of budget hotels, short term rental apartments, charming bed and breakfast as well as holiday Inns and boutique accommodation around the city.
These accommodations are perfect for families, groups and friends on vacations who want to experience Istanbul like a local resident.
You can find also fins an array of cheap accommodation just few meters away from the beautiful mosques, edifices, squares, markets and palaces in Istanbul. And, there are also affordable and decent hotels near the metro, trams and bus stations of the city.
Getting Around Istanbul
Ferries are the most popular mode of transportation used to explore the Bosphorus River and its hidden jewels. Trips start from 10:30 am daily. Tickets are sold from YTL6.50 for one- way and YTL12.50 for a round trip.
The Ferries stop at various stunning sights along the way including Besiktas, Kanlica, Sanyer, Rumeli Kavagi and Anadolu Kavagi. You can then compliment the whole river cruising experience with cold drinks served at YTL4.
To get the best view of these amazing places, it is advisable to board the ferries 45 minutes before departure.
You can find taxis and cabs anywhere in the city. And it is the most convenient way to travel around Istanbul. However, flag down rates differ during day and night. It is usually expensive to ride taxis at night, usually 50% higher than the daytime rate.
Buses and Trams
Most of the intercity and international bus routes are covered by the International Istanbul Bus Station or commonly known as “Otogar”. The bus leaves usually at 8:30 am and has a 25 minutes interval. It takes one hour for a bus to travel from Otogar to Taksim Square. Many bus companies stationed at Otogar offer free service from otogar to taksim square.
The bus system, in the city regarded as highly efficient. Major city bus stations are found at Taksim Square, Aksaray, Besiktas, Rustempasa, Ladikoy and Uskudar. City buses usually run from 6:30am to 11:30 pm.
Before boarding in city buses you must first buy a ticket which costs YTL1.30. You can buy your tickets from booths near bus stations, trams as well as metro stations.
Trams are one of the cheapest ways to travel in Istanbul. Fare is only YTL1.30 and you can akso use Akbil to save more money.
The city has an excellent tramway that runs from Zeytinburnu to Sultanahmet and Eminonu. And then from Galata Bridge, trams cross to Karakoy and Kabatas. Trams service starts from 6:00 am in the morning until midnight and usually runs at every five minutes.
Istanbul is considered as one of the safest tourist destinations in Europe. However, just like any other large cities, it will not hurt if you practice simple precautions. The most common crime in the city is thievery such as bag or mobile phone snatchings.
So to avoid being a victim of these crimes, be responsible about your belongings. Do not flash your fancy mobile phones on the streets. Also, just keep sufficient amount of money in your wallet or bag. Also do not flash your money for everybody to see. In short, do not do anything to attract attention especially from the thieves.
If you however find yourself in dire emergency here is the list of phone numbers you can use:
Ambulance – 112
Police – 155
Tourism Police – (0212) 5274 503
Fire Brigade – 177
Yellow Pages – 11818, 11811 and 11880
Travelling to Istanbul: Things You Need to Know Before Taking the Trip
Istanbul is a great place to spend a holiday vacation. However, the city has a different culture that must be observed and respected at all times. So to make your vacation more successful, here are the things you should remember before you take your vacation:
Females must bring a scarf when visiting mosques. This is because most mosques in Istanbul require women to cover their heads when inside their holy place.
Also do not forget to wear socks. You will be required to remove your shoes or any footwear at mosques.
If you feel like shopping and want to save money, you can only bargain in Sultanahmet. And it is uncommon and rude if you do so in other areas of the Istanbul.
Most of the must-see places in the city follow a schedule. So be sure to inquire about these schedules to avoid disappointments.
When you are travelling alone and is doubt, you can always ask hotel employees or the locals. Istanbul citizens are warm and friendly in nature so they likely to help you out.
Fun and Interesting Facts about Istanbul
Did you know? …
Istanbul is founded on the seven hills just like Rome?
Istanbul is the only city in the world that is located in two different continents? And can be found both in Europe and Asia?
Istanbul was declared as the European Capital of the World for the year 2010?
The Simplon Orient Express dubbed as “the kings of trains” made its final stop at Sirkeci Train Station in Istanbul. It has made the station one of the historic areas of the city.
Istanbul is full of surprises, thrills and excitement. This majestic and legendary city offers anything you want from historical places to a vibrant and colorful modern lifestyle.
Discover the City of Desire and Exotic Pleasure