Istanbul is one of the most popular cities in the world. The city that is spreading on two continents divided by Bosporus offers a great mixture of culture and the combination of old and modern. The city is a passage, a bridge that connects and combine Asia and Europe. Tourists from all around the world come to this city to witness the great Ottoman architecture, monuments, palaces and mosques.
Although it is the largest city in Turkey with population of more than 16 million people, it is not the capital as it was in the past.
The city of Istanbul has been a human settlement for more than 3000 years. It was first know by the name of Lygos. In the 7th century BC, it became a Greek colony by the name of Byzantion. After that it was concurred by Roman Empire and it was renamed into Constantinople. Constantinople was the capital of Byzantium Empire until its fall in 1453. when it become capital of Ottoman Turks.
1923 the Treaty of Lausanne formally established Republic of Turkey, which moved its capital to Ankara. Old Constantinople, long known informally as Istanbul, officially adopted the name in 1930.
What to see in Istanbul
There is 39 district in Istanbul and each of them is consisted out of neighborhoods. If you are visiting Istanbul for the first time, there are a couple of parts that are a must on your list. Taksim, Besiktas, Ortakoy, Kadikoy, Karakoy and Fatih district, the biggest and most conservative district of Istanbul which consist of 57 neighbourhood (Sultanahmet, Eminonu are the most popular ones).
Fatih district is the biggest and we can say capital district of Istanbul, it is on European side of Turkey, connected with Galata bridge to other part of European side.
For everyone coming to visit Istanbul, this is an inevitable stop. First thing is wright next to the sea and famous Misir bazar or Egyptian/Spice bazar. As it name says you can find a lot of spices there, types of tea, coffee, dry plants, etc. Spice Bazar is located in a great hall, but outside of that bazar is another bazar that sells literary everything: clothes, nuts, lokum, coffe, tobacco, sheets, things for home, etc. But the place is very crowded, it is hard to walk around there.
But if you continue your way up for about 20 minutes or so, You will reach Sultanahmet, a place where there is Blues mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkaki Palace (resident palace of Turkish Sultans), old hammams, old underground cisterns, the Grand Bazar, Süleymaniye Mosque, a great 16th century mosque built by the great imperial architect of Suleiman the Magnificent, Mimar Sinan. This place is usually very crowded, full of local people and tourists.
Karakoy is a modern name for the ancient Galata. It is part of Beyoglu district. This districs is famous for Istiklal street, a street full of shops, food, caffees. It is usually packed with people.
From the side of Istiklal street there are many side alleys with bars, pubs, caffees. It is a lively area where people mostly goes for relaxing. One of the important things to see there is Galata tower which was an observation tower built in 14th century.
Besiktas is a neighbourhood close to Karakoy.
It is famous for its young vibe and area where young people go out. There is an entire part full with coffees and bars at one place. It is the place where young locals hang out.
The most impressive touristic side there is Dolmabahce, a summer palace for sultans wright next to the Bosporous. The palace is consisted out of two parts, one is a main palace for sultan and the other is harem, a place where sultans wife and mother were staying.
If you go a bit further from Besiktas, You will reach Ortakoy, a place famous for great view on Bosporus bridge and the food kumpir.
Kumpir is a baked potato stuffed with things such as meat, vegetable, cheese, sos. You can find many places there selling kumpir and add as many toping and filling as you want inside. There is also Ortakoy mosque there located wright on the coast.
Kadikoy is a district located on Asian side which you can reach either by boat or metro.
Kadikoy is alternative part of the city, it is a mixture of young, hipsterish culture and typical Turkish markets, especially fish markets and foods. The place has a special vibe, Asian spirit and it feels more like a real Turkey then the European side. It is less crowded with tourist and also cheaper then European side.
The easiest way to go around is by purchasing Istanbul card which cost 10 lira and after that you top up the card with the money. Usually one direction ride is around 3/4 lira and sometimes if it is more, you can get refund, if you are not making exit on the last stop.
The best thing to eat while in Istanbul are Turkish breakfast, witch is basically a table full of food like menemen (egs with vegetables) , different types of cheese, fresh vegetables, olives, break, cigara boregi, fries, jam, butter, honey and kajmak.
The Turkish breakfast is usually eaten a bit later, it is sort of an brunch. It usually makes you full until dinner, so the lunch is skipped. You can try out kokorec (animals intestines’ with spices in bread), pide (sort of a pizza with toppings), kebaps, sis meat, doner, durum, sandwich with fish, etc.)
In a lot of places they offer you a chance to dress up in classical Turkish Ottoman Style and then take photo of you. The most popular photos are usually taken on the roof.
The Istanbul is indeed a good choice for travelling, weather you are a backpacker on budget, or a you are going just for enjoyment and experiencing royal life, it does not matter. Every person can find something for themselves in this endless city.