Istanbul Journals

Bill in Turkey - ISTANBUL

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A September 2003 trip to Istanbul by billmoy

Hagia Sophia Photo, Istanbul, Turkey More Photos
Quote: Istanbul is a unique and atmospheric city that straddles Europe and Asia, separated by the Bosphorus but physically linked by the expansively majestic Bosphorus Bridge. Istanbul was formerly called Byzantium and then Constantinople.

Bill in Turkey - ISTANBUL

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Overview

Istanbul Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
A morning jaunt along the waterline of Istanbul is pleasantly invigorating. I walked downhill southwards until I hit the edge of the Marmara Sea. You will encounter local fishermen, the old city walls, gawk at views of the Topkapi Palace, the Bosphorus Bridge, Taksim, etc. I love Turkish food! It seemed very easy to find a good meal in Istanbul, with freshly grilled meats and tasty sides galore. The hot and puffy bread served at many restaurants is particularly delicious. Quick Tips: Everyone is a millionaire in Turkey, as the one million Turkish lira notes are worth about 69 US cents each. Watch your currency carefully so you do not get ripped off because of counting the wrong number ...Read More

Best Western Obelisk and Sumengen

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Hotel

Best Western Obelisk and Sumengen Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
This Istanbul hotel is well located in the "old town" area of Sultanahmet, where many budget-type establishments are located. The Obelisk and Sumengen, which resides in a former Ottoman house built during the 19th century and renovated in 2000, is part of the Best Western chain. The property, with five floors and 73 rooms, is not too far from great sites like the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. The management of this hotel offers a free pickup from the airport to the hotel. Our pickup lady met us at the arrivals area, and we waited about 15 minutes for the shuttle van to pick up my two friends and myself. The personal touch is extended in the somewhat aged van, as this seems to be a family ope...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 28, 2004

Best Western Obelisk and Sumengen
Mimar Mehmetaga Caddesi 17-19
Istanbul, Turkey
90 212 5177173

Doy Doy

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Restaurant

Doy Doy Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
Dining at this restaurant is a cultural experience, and it will not set you back too much in the pocketbook. A leisurely meal on the rooftop terrace includes marvelous 360-degree views as a bonus. It does not matter where you sit, for you will see the back of the Blue Mosque, the Marmara Sea, and the moon during the evening. A welcoming host is usually there to greet you at the entrance, or in front of the restaurant during a slower moment. The glass counter on the main floor displays the range of desserts you can order later, and they all look scrumptious. A walk up the stairs to the rooftop is interesting. The floor above the entry level has tables with patrons who do not wish to dine on the r...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on February 28, 2004

Doy Doy
Sifa Hamami Sokak 13
Istanbul, Turkey
+90 (212) 51715 88

Buhara

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Restaurant

Buhara Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
This restaurant is an institution in the Sultanahmet area of Istanbul. It also has a roof terrace for dining, but its views are not as widespread as at the rival Doy Doy restaurant. After dining at Doy Doy one evening, we were amused by the host at Buhara saying to us, "How can we help you spend your money?" in a charming but not audacious manner. We decided to file this away and come back the next day for dinner. There is a menu sign in front to lure you into the premises. The entry level has a glass display of desserts and a seating area, though it seems no one usually eats here. A climb up a few levels of stairs takes you to the prerequisite rooftop terrace. In a nod towards the tourist crowd...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 28, 2004

Buhara
Sifa Hamami Sokak 15A
Istanbul, Turkey
90 (212) 5181511

Hagia Sophia

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Attraction | "Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya)"

Hagia Sophia Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
The history of this complex is fascinating and serves as a capsule summary of Istanbul. It was originally constructed from 532 to 537 under the rule of Justinian. The names credited as the architects were Anthemius of Tralles and Isodorus of Miletus. Much of the original massive dome collapsed in 558, but under the direction of Isodorus the Younger was reconstructed with much more reinforcement in 563. The interiors displayed delicate golden mosaics depicting Christian figures and scenes. That all changed in 1453, when the Hagia Sophia was converted from a church to a mosque by Sultan Mehmet II. The original decorations were covered up, and enormous round plaques called levhas inscribed with ornate Mu...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on February 28, 2004

Hagia Sophia
Sultanahmet Square
Istanbul, Turkey
+90 212 528 4500

Aya Sofya/ Church of Holy Wisdom

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Attraction | "Blue Mosque"

Aya Sofya/ Church of Holy Wisdom Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
The Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Camii) is one of the great mosques as far as its architectural purity and aesthetic merits. Built from 1609 to 1616, it has six minarets, two more than the standard four and an equal number to that of the revered Mecca. Sultan Ahmet I desired his own grand monument that would be greater than the Hagia Sophia. The design by architect Sedefkar Mehmet Aga (a student of the great Sinan of Suleyman Mosque fame) features a cohesive design with harmonious proportions and elements. The entrance is free, but a donation is encouraged upon your departure via the main portal. Since this is a place of worship, visitors should try to be as low-key as possible. The entrance for v...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 28, 2004

Aya Sofya/ Church of Holy Wisdom
Sultanhamet
Istanbul, Turkey

Topkapi Palace

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Attraction | "Topkapi Palace (Topkapi Sarayi)"

Topkapi Palace Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
This remarkable complex spanning over 170 acres is a must-see for visitors. One can get a glimpse of the lifestyle of the Ottoman sultans who resided behind these mysterious areas for over 400 years after its construction for Mehmet II in 1465. The old palace debuted as a museum in 1924. Walk up through the park to arrive at the palace, although the signage at the base of the hill can be a bit confusing upon first inspection. There are separate and substantial fees for visiting the palace, the harem and the treasury collections. If you are pressed for time, skip the gaudy imperial treasury housed in the pavilion of Fatih (with alluring items like the emerald-encrusted Topkapi Dagger and the Spo...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on February 28, 2004

Topkapi Palace
Sultanahmet Square
Istanbul, Turkey
90 212 5224422

Topkapi Palace

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Attraction | "Other attractions at Topkapi Palace"

Topkapi Palace Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
If you are not completely overwhelmed after a visit to the impressive Topkapi Palace, check out the nearby Archaeological Museum, the Museum of the Ancient Orient, and the Museum of Ceramics. These fine museums are located in the former palace gardens. One of the few surviving Byzantine churches in Istanbul is Hagia Eirene, which is within the walled enclosure of the Topkapi Palace grounds. This edifice was built under Justinian in 537, the same time frame as the more famous Hagia Sophia. While its history may not be as illustrious, the Hagia Eirene did see service as an arsenal structure during Ottoman times and later as a museum with military and archaeological displays. It was restored in the...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 28, 2004

Topkapi Palace
Sultanahmet Square
Istanbul, Turkey
90 212 5224422

Suleyman Mosque (Suleymaniye Camii)

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Attraction

Suleyman Mosque (Suleymaniye Camii) Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
An upwards walk through the intricate web of Istanbul streets will eventually lead to the great Suleyman Mosque, one of the architectural masterpieces designed by Sinan. It was constructed from 1550 to 1558. The huge complex on the hilltop hovers above the level of the Golden Horn, Bosphorus and Marmara Sea. The design is derived from the famous prototype Hagia Sophia. Two half-domes and two tympanum walls buttress the central dome, which has a diameter of 85 feet and a height of 170 feet. Four great pillars support the dome inside. The layout includes four minarets, a typical number for a large mosque. The two taller minarets are positioned adjacent to the mosque. Before entering th...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 28, 2004

Suleyman Mosque (Suleymaniye Camii)
Istanbul
Istanbul, Turkey

Grand Bazaar (Kapali Carsi)

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Attraction | "Grand Bazaar"

Grand Bazaar (Kapali Carsi) Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
The Grand Bazaar (also the Covered Bazaar or Kapali Carsi) is the place for you if you want to powershop and haggle for Turkish trinkets to take home. There are over 4000 shops within the complex, which is still considered the commercial center of the old city. There are entire streets dedicated to specific crafts, such as carpets, skullcaps, jewelry, gold items, leather goods, etc. The Old Bedesten is an area that deals with various antiques and curiosities. A good way to arrive at the Grand Bazaar is to walk west along the tram tracks from the Sultanahmet area until you get to the Beyazit stop. Then cut north to enter the complex through one of its eighteen entrances. It is fun to wander aroun...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 1, 2004

Grand Bazaar (Kapali Carsi)
Kalpakcilarbasi Street
Istanbul, Turkey