“If the Earth was a single state, Istanbul would be its capital” – Napoleon Bonaparte.
I probably wouldn’t go so far in my judgement as Napoleon there, but I can assure you that Istanbul is certainly a place worth visiting!
The city, previously known as Byzantium and Constantinople, was founded in 330 BC and since then has played an important role in the history of both Europe and Asia. As most of the historic sites in Istanbul have survived in good condition till date, the long and colourful history of the city is visible at almost every corner of Istanbul’s old districts, enriching the experience of any tourist coming here.
Our first impression about the city was very different from what we expected. Since we got here from Egypt, we were mentally prepared for the usual pushy touts at every corner, reckless drivers, bumpy roads and much more… but to our surprise, the city turned out to be far more European than Middle-Eastern (if you can make such a generalization at all).
It also needs to be mentioned how scenic Istanbul is. It spreads across many lush green hills topped with numerous mosques pointing their minarets straight into the sky, and with the Bosporus Strait flowing right in the middle; it makes for truly picturesque scenery, especially in the warm colors of the sunset.
Nowadays Istanbul is an extremely busy metropolis with over 13 million citizens, modern commuting system (including metro, trams, buses and ferries), designer stores, stylish dressed women and men strolling through the streets, well preserved historical buildings as well as countless restaurants and cafes. It’s simply a city that you would like spending your time in… doesn’t matter if your interests lie in visiting historical sites, sampling the regional cuisine, partying at a hip nightclub or simply meeting the friendly local people.
Having said all that, here are several important reasons why I think you should visit Istanbul and why I’m sure you will remember your visit for a long time to come:
The touristic ferry we took for about 2 hours was 10 TL each (approx. 5$), the local one is for 2 TL.
Women will have to cover their heads while entering the mosques and everyone is handed a plastic bag to carry your shoes in as you have to take them off before entering. Both men and women should avoid wearing shorts if you’re planning to visit any of the mosques.
A post about Lavanya’s rather funny experience at the hamam coming up soon!