An amazing blend of culture that will capture your mind.
Summer is coming up and you should start planning where to go for a nice vacation if you haven’t done so already. If you’re tired of laying on a beach for weeks at a time and you want to have a more enriching holiday, then you should definitely consider going to Istanbul. Located between Europe and Asia, Istanbul has gathered great many things from both parts of the world into an amazing blend of culture that will capture your mind. While roaming through the streets of Istanbul in search of perfect new products for Raven’s Landing, I have explored the in’s-and-outs of this city, and here’s my short list of reasons why you simply must visit Istanbul!
1. The Cultural And Historical Bridge Between East And West.
Istanbul, historically known as Constantinople, is Turkey’s economic, cultural, and historic center. Its commercial and historical center lies on the European side and about a third of its population lives on the Asian side. Istanbul used to be located on the famous Silk Road, which made it a century-long trade hub of the world; spices and textiles from around the globe were traded here, before reaching their final destination in Europe, Africa or Asia. This has influenced the culture of the city and created one of the most beautiful cities on Earth.
Istanbul is home to the famous Blue Mosque, also known as Sultan Ahmet Camii, which has become an unofficial symbol of this city. By crossing the Bosphorus channel you can travel from Europe to Asia in a matter of minutes, while having a truly stunning view of the city. With hundreds of historical sights and museums to visit, Istanbul is a treasure for tourists.
2. Istanbul Is A Foodie’s Delight!
Eating out in Istanbul is an experience you will never forget! Hundreds of restaurants, small cafes, bakeries and street food places would satisfy any food lover. Istanbul’s location near the water provides for fresh seafood, and great Mediterranean climate, which ensures that you will eat fresh fruit and vegetables all year round.
Dining here can be pretty cheap, too. You can get a delicious chicken kebab with rice, vegetables, and famous Turkish bread all for just USD$3 (or about TL$10). Of course you can find some more high-end restaurants for your taste, but even there your bill would be only around USD$30 (TL$108) per person. Vegetarians will be pleasantly surprised to find that Turkish cuisine offers a great variety of vegetarian dishes, such as lovely spinach pedes or amazing humus.
3. Shopping Is THE Craze In This City.
Shopping is a sole reason why many people are coming to Istanbul. International fashion chains like Zara, Converse and H&M are known for producing some of their clothes in Turkey, resulting in lower prices for their products and sometimes better array of products. However, what you should be really looking for in Istanbul are the local producers – artisans who have spent their life dedicated to perfecting the product and enriching local communities at the same time.
Walking from Taksim Square to Galata Tower you will find all kinds of products from lamps, cutlery and furniture to textiles, clothes and music instruments. If you are an antiques lover then you should visit Bomonti Sunday market where tens of small shops selling old cameras, paintings, tea sets and old toys from all over world can be found. For those who want to shop with the locals, I would suggest to go to Fatih’s Wednesday Market, where every Wednesday morning an area the size of a small town gets transformed into an open-air market and, where vendors compete over offering the cheapest bargains with the loudest voice.
4. Thriving Nightlife And Music Scene Is Can’t-Miss.
At night this rather conservative city transforms into a thriving megalopolis with bars and nightclubs full of people seven days a week. Istanbul has a thriving underground music culture with local DJs performing at nightclubs and private parties. In summer you can visit bars with amazing roof top views of Istanbul; for example, you can go to NuTeras bar located in Beyoğlu with a lovely view of Bosphorus and Golden Horn, with DJ sets until the late hours of the night.
5. A City Full Of Friendly Locals And Expats.
A famous saying goes that a city is only as good as its people; Istanbul will not disappoint. In one night at a bar you may meet a musician from Germany who came here to explore local bits, a photographer from Sweden who is doing a project on refugees, or a local bodybuilder who is now running a successful spa and fitness business. It would be beneficial to speak Turkish to get the best out of being here, but that is not necessary since many professionals speak English here. Do not hesitate to make new friends – people of Istanbul are very friendly and hospitable and will probably offer to help you explore this great city. You will be surprised how a simple conversation with an owner of a local cafe can lead to a long and fruitful friendship!
Istanbul is not perfect—there are streets that foreigners should avoid and there are taxi drivers who will try to rip you off—but if you come here with an open mind and a willingness to explore this city then Istanbul will definitely become one of your favourite places on earth.
Photos: Timur Dailidonis
Have you ever been to Istanbul? Share with us in the comments.