Istanbul Journals

Istanbul: Where Two Continents Collide

A January 2002 trip to Istanbul by kiwilee

City View Photo, Istanbul, Turkey More Photos
Quote: Being put up in The Hilton, then roughing it backpacker style, I got to see the best of both worlds. It was the first Muslim country I had visited, and the fascination I found from the culture and architechture has left a lasting impression on me.

Istanbul: Where Two Continents Collide

Overview

City View Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
Hearing my first call to prayer echoing out over the Bosphorus produced a memory I won't forget. Coming very close to this was the scene atop the Galata Tower as thunder and lightning closed in across Istanbul. The architechture of the perennial favourites astounded me. From the intricate designs in the Harem of the Topkapi Palace, to the immense domes and stained glass of the Blue Mosque, these sights lived upto their billing as the city's top tourist sights.Quick Tips: Sultanahmet contains the main attractions and also a majority of the accomodation in Istanbul, making it a very good focal point, especially if your time is limited. Taxim is the place to head to find the nig...Read More
Hilton Istanbul Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
This is the original deluxe hotel in Istanbul so it is set among spacious grounds. There are five restaurants, three of which operate year round. It lists tennis courts, the largest swimming pool in the city and fitness centre as some of its line up. It really contains everything you'd expect from a five star hotel.

Try and get a Bosphorus facing room as the views are simply stunning (see photo). If you can't, then soak up the same views from 'The Terrace' restaurant while having a drink.

There is nothing that sets it apart from any other deluxe hotel, but it has everything you need, and the staff are all polite and very willing to help.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 23, 2002

Hilton Istanbul
Cumhuriyet Caddesi Harbiye
Istanbul, Turkey 34367
0090 212 315 6000

Orient Youth Hostel

Best Of IgoUgo

Hotel

Orient Youth Hostel Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
Website: www.hostels.com/orienthostel Email: orienthostel@superonline.com Dorm Room Rate: 10,000,000 lira/night (£4) Right in the heart of the action in Sultanahmet, a mere 5 minute walk from the Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace, and the most spectacular views over Istanbul (Asia) and Sea of Marmara. A lively hostel packed with travellers from all over, and a plentiful amount of Kiwis and Australians. The dorm rooms are quite sparse, with just the bunk beds. Make sure you take locks for your backpack as there are no lockers in the rooms. A locker room at reception is provided though. There are clean bathrooms and showers which seemed to be unisex. What makes th...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 24, 2002

Orient Youth Hostel
Akbiyik Caddesi 13, Sultanahmet
Istanbul, Turkey 34400
+90 212 5180789

Aya Sofya/ Church of Holy Wisdom

Attraction | "Aya Sofia"

Aya Sofya/ Church of Holy Wisdom Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
Open every day except Monday from 9:30-4:30 This amazing building was originally built as a church in 537, used from 1453 as a mosque, and was opened for public view as a museum in 1964. During this time it has endured numerous earthquakes which have cracked its 56m high dome, while the tile mosaics have been covered over on more than one occasion during the Ottoman period. Although it has now been restored, the magnificence wasn't all apparent. Ongoing works at the time of my visit, covered half the dome with a huge construction of scaffolding (15 floors high), which looked rather out of place in such a building. It allowed me to get a reasonable idea of the building, but no...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 29, 2002

Aya Sofya/ Church of Holy Wisdom
Sultanhamet
Istanbul, Turkey

Aya Sofya/ Church of Holy Wisdom

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "Sultan Ahmet Camii (Blue Mosque)"

Aya Sofya/ Church of Holy Wisdom Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
One of the most popular sights in the city, the Blue Mosque still operates, first and foremost as a functioning place of worship. Part of this is denying entry to tourists if there is a prayer session running, so check times before planning your day around this. The six imposing minarets and the great dome are surely the first things you will notice, even from a distance. It is from these great heights that the call to prayer (see journal entry) is announced each day via loud speakers. After entering through the courtyard, you walk around to the south west side to the tourist entrance. Is is essential to take off your footwear here (plastic bags supplied), also that females who are not...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 28, 2002

Aya Sofya/ Church of Holy Wisdom
Sultanhamet
Istanbul, Turkey

Basilica Cistern

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "Basilica Cistern - Yerebatan Saray"

Basilica Cistern Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
Strains of Vivaldi's 'Four Seasons' echo thoughout the chamber and bounce of the pillars. It is almost sinister as the warming music is juxtaposed to what could be a scene from a scary movie. Originally used as a water supply for Constantinople to keep its residents watered during war times when the city was under seige. It seemed to be forgotten until about 1547 when it was rediscovered by Petrus Gyllius. The Basilica Cistern (named after the Stoa Basilica that it was originally built underneath) is now one of Istanbul's most fascinating sights, and also one of the more popular. The huge underground cistern is almost 140m long, doubling the length of the Hagia Sophia, whilst the width...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 24, 2002

Basilica Cistern
Southwest of the Hagia Sophia
Istanbul, Turkey

Quote:
I was sitting enjoying a quiet beer of the Orient Hostel (see accomodation entry), enjoying the sunshine, when a smooth wailing melody was broadcast over the city. I stopped and listened. Having never visited a Muslim country before, I had only read about the call which happens every day. I was instantly transfixed, as were many others, judging by their lack of movement. The speakers of the Blue Mosque boomed as a lone voice moved up and down; a Gregorian Chant is the closest thing I can associate it to. Then another was heard, this time coming from a mosque about 50 metres down the road. Finally a third was added to this medley from an unsighted mosque in the Sultanahmet are...Read More

About the Writer

kiwilee

kiwilee
London, New Zealand