Istanbul Journals

Istanbul - "City of the World's Desire"

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A September 2006 trip to Istanbul by actonsteve

Sultanhammet Mosque Photo, Istanbul, Turkey More Photos
Quote: Standing proud in the 21st century, the hardy perennial of Istanbul charms with its history, culture, and sheer exoticism.

Istanbul - "City of the World's Desire"

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Overview

Aya Sophia and Saint Steven Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
"If one had but a single glance to give the world, one should gaze on Istanbul." -Alphonse de Lamartine, 1943Whether you call it Constantinople, Istanbul, or even Byzantium there is no doubt this is a rich city.It's rich in so many ways: history, ambience, architecture, and culture. Its like a layered cake of history going back thousands of years. Capital to the eastern Roman Empire, the Byzantines and the formidable Ottomans This was once a city which, for over 300 hundred years, made Europe quake with fear. A city firmly on the trade routes from the east, with its boot firmly on the lifelines to Russia or Persia. A city, in its history that has been coveted...Read More

Eklektik Hotel

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Hotel | "A Unique Boutique - the Eklektik Hotel"

The Leylak Room at Eklektik Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
There can not be a hotel anything like the Eklektik anywhere in Istanbul - actually, in the whole of Turkey.The Eklektik is a brave move. It's a gay hotel in a city which has not tried this before. And it's not just a gay hotel, it aims high—its a boutique hotel. A hotel straight out of the style magazines in a city which fiercely observes Ramadan. A hotel that borders on camp in the middle of working class Beyoglu/Pera. It's brave, innovative, and I am pleased to announce, a massive success.It's very new. The hotel only had its makeover back in 2005. It's positioning is perfect, at the southern end of Istikal Caddesi, and near Tunel Square. To get there from Istikal Caddesi, h...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 15, 2007

Eklektik Hotel

Istanbul, Turkey

The Pudding Shop

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Restaurant | "The Pudding Shop - the start of the "hippy trail""

Sultanhammet Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
Way back in the late 1960s and early '70s, Istanbul was the start of the "Hippy Trail"From here, travelers would pass across Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan (imagine doing that today?) and ended up in Nepalese Kathmandu or on the Indian beaches of Goa. Those about to attempt this journey of at least two months, would gather at the Pudding Shop which acted as an unofficial travelers' centre for those about to take the plunge. Before the days of travel guides, they would seek advice from those who had already done it or a travelers' noticeboard. This small restaurant in the heart of Sultanhammet took the place of the internet or, dare I say it?, Igougo?Of course in...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 15, 2007

The Pudding Shop
Divan Yolu 6
Istanbul, Turkey
90 (212) 522 29 70

The little alleys in Pera Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
Bond got out of bed, drew back the heavy plush curtains and leant on the iron balustrade and looked out on one of the most famous views in the world - on his right the still waters of the Golden Horn, on his left the dancing waters of the unsheltered Bosphorus, and, in between, the tumbling roofs, soaring minarets and crouching mosques of Sultanhammet. After all, his choice had been good. The view made up for the minor discomfort and prickly feeling that he was being invisibly maneuvered at Hotel Kristal Palas...From Russia With Love, Ian Fleming, 1956Hotel Kristal Palas was based, in reality, on the most famous hotel in Istanbul - the Pera Palas. The Palas...Read More

Basilica Cistern

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Attraction | "The Lair of the Medusa - the underground cistern"

Basilica Cistern Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
There was one sight in Istanbul that I definitely wanted to see: Yerebeta Sarnaci, the underground cistern.Back in 1545, the French traveller Gyllius observed the city's citizens lowering buckets through holes in their basements to obtain water. They had access to one of the underground reservoirs that dotted Old Stamboul. Built for the city's use in times of siege, they were built over and forgotten for centuries. This one dates back to about 527AD, making it nearly 1500 years old, and is the same age as the church/mosque of Hagia Sophia. The cistern is one of the most evocative and atmospheric sights in the city.To get there, get off the tram at Sultanhammet stop on Divan Yol...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 15, 2007

Basilica Cistern
Southwest of the Hagia Sophia
Istanbul, Turkey

the monuments of the Hippodrome Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
The beauty I see in Sultanhammet mosque is in its lines, in the elegant spaces beneath its dome, in the opening out of its side domes, in the proportion of its walls and empty spaces, in the counterpoint of its support towers and little arches, in its whiteness and the purity of its lead on the domes - none of which can be called picturesque. Even four hundred years after it was built I can look at Sultanhammet and see a mosque in its entirety, just as it first did, and see it as it was meant to be seen.Orhan Pamuk, Istanbul: Memories of a City, 2005I have to agree with him. Sultanhammet mosque, a.k.a. 'the blue mosque', is one of the most beautiful building...Read More
The famous Divan Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
Ibrahim asked, "Master Ali, wherefore art thou come?"He replied, "My Emporer, to perform your funeral service..."To this, Ibrahim replied, "we shall see..." Ali then fell upon him; and while they were struggling, one of Ali's assistants came in, and Ibrahim was finally strangled by a garter. Kara Ali received a reward of five hundred ducats, and was urged to remain no longer in Constantinople, but to proceed on a pilgrimage to Mecca."Noel Barber, Lords of the Golden Horn, 1973As you can see very few of the Ottoman sultans lived to a ripe old age. Most after serving terms of incarceration in 'The Cage' were deposed, poisoned, or murdered. Th...Read More
The Fourth Court overlooking the Bosphorus Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
Once on the throne, Ibrahim proved to be the most detestable and debauched of the Ottoman sultans. A picture of him shows the bleary countenance of a drunkard, his turban tipped crazily to one side. From the moment of his accession he seemed to have one thought in his head - to make up for lost time. A man who regarded sex as a duty to be practised almost daily, his excesses were so much that even the harem murmured in protest, to say nothing of the government.Noel Barber, Lords of the Golden Horn, 1973Mere mortals could not pass beyond the first court but for those chosen to go into the 'harem' its few rooms would become their world. The word harem me...Read More
The symbol of Istanbul Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
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St Peters beats it in religious importance, St Paul's beats it for size and St Basil's for probably sheer exoticism but to me the Haghia Sophia or Aya Sophia is one of the world's greatest architectural achievements. This is Turkey's Jewell. I can't think of a building that has stood for so long and witnessed as much as this "church of holy wisdom". Aya Sophia is pure history.It stands in the centre of Istanbul directly opposite the equally stunning Sultanhammet mosque and a few hundred yards from the Topkapi Palace. The easiest way to reach it from Emininou or Galata is to take the tram up from 'The Golden Horn'. The tram climbs the hill up before heading west along Divan Yolu and ...Read More
The Street of Gold Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
OK, it's touristy. There are just as many 'I love Istanbul' T-shirts as there are Ottoman antiques, there are just as many belly dancing costumes as there are painted miniatures - but you feel you are shopping in a "bazaar" and all its exotic connotations. The Grand Bazaar is an Istanbullu "experience". Something you will not find anywhere else in the world.I loved it. I admit to being a confirmed a shopaphobe. When I buy a pair of shoes - I'm in, I try them on, and pay for them all within five minutes. But I lost myself in the Grand Bazaar. I spent over three hours in there which is a minor record for me and I enjoyed it so much I went back three days later. I think it is the feel of the ...Read More
The mighty Zeus Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
Let's talk about history...History is many things to many people. To some it is remembering dates as a child in a dusty classroom, to others it's being dragged around castles against their will before being allowed to go shopping. But to me it is about imagination. It's about recreating worlds. It's about remembering those eras and aeons as they once were. Granted it does take the use of the minds eye. And you have to have a love of detail, an interest in the mundane - and perhaps an overly romantic nature. But when it all comes together you get to learn more about a country then a textbook or documentary will ever tell you.I am mentioning this because I found the National A...Read More
Leanders Tower Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
If a city speaks of defeat, destruction, deprivation, melancholy and poverty, the Bosphorus sings of life, pleasure, and happiness. Istanbul draws its strength from the Bosphorus. But in earlier times no one gave it much importance: they saw the Bosphorus as a waterway, a beauty spot, and for the last two hundred years, a fine location for summer palaces.Orhan Pamuk, Istanbul: Memories of a City, 2005I cannot think of any other city in the world where you can visit two continents in one day.There are places in the world where you countries converge (usually at major waterfalls) and you can visit up to three countries in a day. But there are few places ...Read More

Dolmabache Palace -

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Story/Tip

Dolmabache Gatehouse Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
Sultan Abdul Mejid had just one stipulation - "it must surpass any other palace of any potentate anywhere in the world." The Palace itself was rococo gone mad. Over fourteen tonnes of gold leaf were used in the decoration. Mejid spent the Empires dwindling coffers on this monstrosity. The famous extravagant last gasp of the Ottoman sultanate before its demise.Noel Barber, Lords of the Golden Horn, 1973Whether it is crowds storming the Winter Palace in St Petersburg, Henry VIII jealously seizing Hampton Court from Wolsey, or the Chinese revolutionaries ousting the Emperor from the Forbidden City - all the great palaces of the world have a touch of pathos about t...Read More