Istanbul Journals

Istanbul Idyll

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A March 2002 trip to Istanbul by Idler

In Topkapi Sarayi Photo, Istanbul, Turkey More Photos
Quote: Drawn to the mystique of both ancient and modern Istanbul, a family of three spends five days exploring the city, taking in mosques, museums, meyhanes, bazaars, and the vibrant street scene.

Istanbul Idyll

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Overview

In Topkapi Sarayi  Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
Istanbul is a feast for the senses. Indulge yourself! Take in the sights and smells of the Spice Bazaar and the dazzle of the Grand Bazaar. Let history wash over you in Aya Sofya, Topkapi Palace, the Archeological Museum, and numerous other cultural standouts. Stand on a promontory and look out over the Golden Horn and Bosphorus. Join in the vibrant night life centered in the Taksim district. Enjoy one of the world's great cuisines. Take in performances of Turkish music and dance. Let yourself be seduced by this magical city at the crossroads of Asia and Europe. Quick Tips: The Sultanahmet district hotels place you closest to many of the key museums and attractions of the city, b...Read More

Hotel Empress Zoe

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Hotel

Hotel Empress Zoe Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
GRACIOUS LADYAs attractive as its website's photos, the Empress Zoe is a small "artistic hotel" of great charm. If you like intimate hotels and are comfortable climbing narrow staircases, then you might consider this friendly bijou hotel. The Empress Zoe is tucked in a quiet side street near the main attractions of Seraglio Point and Sultanahmet. The hotel has only 19 rooms, arranged more or less vertically on successive floors. Hence the caveat about the stairs. The first set, an open spiral staircase, is in the small reception area. Thankfully, two small but incredibly strong men carried our suitcases up to our...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 12, 2002

Hotel Empress Zoe
Akbiyik Cad. No:4/1 Sultanahmet
Istanbul, Turkey
(90 212) 518 25 04

Istiklal Caddesi, (Independence Street)

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Attraction | "Istiklal Caddesi (Independence Street)"

Istiklal Caddesi, (Independence Street) Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
When you’ve fended off your twentieth carpet salesman in Sultanahmet, which is generally about the same time that you’ve developed ‘tourist neck’ from milling endlessly with your fellow tourists, head tilted back gazing at the ceilings of Aya Sofya and the Blue Mosque, you might find yourself in the mood for something more relaxing. Less regulated. More hedonistic. Less antiquarian. More 21st century. Something…. different. That’s the time to jump in a taxi and head across to the opposite shore, to Taksim Square in the Beyoglu district. There, on Istiklal Caddesi, you can slip effortlessly int...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 21, 2002

Istiklal Caddesi, (Independence Street)
off Taksim Square, Beyoglu
Istanbul, Turkey

Archaeological Museums

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Attraction | "Archaeology Museum"

Archaeological Museums Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
Istanbul’s Archaeological Museum is divided into three separately-housed collections: The Museum of the Ancient Orient, located in the building closest to the entrance; another building which housed the original Ottoman Imperial Museum and now contains a collection of Turkish tiles and ceramics; and the Archaeological Museum proper, located in the third and largest of the buildings ranged around a gravel courtyard. Many visitors, in their rush to see the "big three" of the old city (Aya Sofya, the Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace), pass up the opportunity to visit this museum, which is next to Topkapi Palace a...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 14, 2002

Archaeological Museums
Osman Hamdi Bey Yokusu
Istanbul, Turkey
+90 212 5207740

The Cavalry Bazaar

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Attraction

The Cavalry Bazaar Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
Only a few minutes’ walk from the Blue Mosque, running parallel to Torun Sokagi, is a pleasant alley of shops built in what used to be a stable yard used by the cavalry. The "Cavalry Bazaar," as it’s called, is one of the less overwhelming places to shop in Istanbul, largely due to its self-contained, simple layout. The small shops line either side of one long street, in contrast to the maze of shops in the streets near the Grand Bazaar or Spice Market. There is one long stretch of small shops, and that’s it. If you’re in a less aggressive shopping mode or simply not up to tackling the larger markets, this is a good place to go. There are a fair number of the ever-present carpet shops here,...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 15, 2002

The Cavalry Bazaar
Behind The Blue Mosque
Istanbul, Turkey

The Mosaic Museum

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Attraction

The Mosaic Museum Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
Almost all that remains of the Great Palace complex, the emperor's residence and setting for the lavish ceremonies of the Byzantine court, is displayed at the small Mosaic Museum. It’s a sobering thought: here, on these tiled floors, Justinian once walked; here, in one of its bedchambers, the valiant emperor-general Nicephorus Phocas was assassinated, betrayed by his wife and her lover; here Crusader leaders swore fealty to the emperor; here, a century later, knights of the Fourth Crusade turned on an emperor unable to meet their extortionary demands, sacked the city and palace, carried off Byzantium’s tr...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 21, 2002

The Mosaic Museum
Arasta Carsisi, Sultanahmet
Istanbul, Turkey

Basilica Cistern

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Attraction | "Basilica Cistern (Yerebatansaray)"

Basilica Cistern Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
"Boy, this would be the perfect place for a murder!" whispered my pre-teen son as we descended into the hushed, cavernous Basilica Cistern, or Yerebatansaray ("Underground Palace"). He had been playing a computer game called Byzantine: The Betrayal before our trip. In the game, a murder occurs in the cistern. The cistern is, indeed, atmospheric in the extreme. Entering a non-descript building on Yerebatan Street, just across from Aya Sofya, we had descended into a vast underground space. It's an impressive engineering feat, considering that it was created almost 1500 years ago. Twelve rows o...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 13, 2002

Basilica Cistern
Southwest of the Hagia Sophia
Istanbul, Turkey

Quote:
One of the great pleasures of travel is anticipatory reading. I did a great deal of it prior to our Istanbul trip, and I thought it might be useful to share the books I enjoyed with others. The following books are, with one exception, widely available in the U.S. Some are guidebooks in the conventional sense, others are historical books or historical fiction, and still others are useful resources for learning about Turkish food, language, or culture. The best overall guidebook we used was Eyewitness Guide to Istanbul. While the information...Read More
Blue Mosque at sunset Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
I've just returned from Istanbul, a city where history conspires to waylay the visitor at the oddest places. It’s a land of colorful bazaars and old-fashioned courtesy existing alongside cell-phone chatting youth and CNN International News on TV. Tantalizingly foreign (but not disconcertingly so), we found Istanbul a relatively easy city to travel in. On our first Istanbul morning we were woken at the crack of dawn by what sounded at first like an air siren. Sitting groggily upright in bed, the sound resolved itself into a discernibly human voice. Ah, the morning call to prayer. Of course – how could I have forgotten? Our hotel was located near the Blue Mosque, but within range o...Read More
Cennet Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
Lovers of traditional Turkish music – and I count myself among them – should not miss the opportunity while in Istanbul to visit some of the many small taverns, or meyhanes, and cafés which feature live music or where the patrons themselves provide musical entertainment. A Turkish meyhane is a world of its own, frequented by the young and old, the fashionable and dowdy, the rich and poor alike. The great leveler is raki an anise-flavored drink that fires the spirit. Make no mistake, a meyhane is not a quiet place. Smoke-filled, bustling, loud, and often crowded, meyhanes are popular settings for celebrations, as well as providing a home away from home for the solitary wanderer seeking...Read More