A Note From Greg:
Istanbul, was Constantinople.
Now it’s Istanbul, not Constantinople.
Been a long time gone, Constantinople.
Now a Turkish delight, on a moonlit night.

Man, those lyrics have been running around in my head since first hearing that They Might Be Giants song on Tiny Tunes when I was a kid. Now, Aleix has written in with this great description of Istanbul, not Constantinople. In the mean time, before it starts, I found the actual video that has been stuck in my head for the past 20+ years.

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Istanbul is one of the most special cities in the world, because it’s the bridge between Europe and Asia, where these two continents that could not be more different from each other, come together and mix the best of these two continents. A visit to this city is truly magical.

Istanbul
Istanbul

There’s only one city around the world that is in two continents. Some cities combine their traditional traits with the more widespread western ones, some combine tourism and authenticity and some combine nothing at all.

(photo courtesy of City Pictures)

However, a city that combines the best of Europe and Asia, a city that’s the bridge between these two continents that couldn’t be further apart ideologically and traditionally speaking, has to be something special. That city is Istanbul.

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Istanbul: Turkey’s Largest & Most Famous City

Istanbul is, contrary to what some people think, not the Turkish capital, with that title falling to Ankara, on the Anatolian peninsula. However, Istanbul is Turkey’s largest city and the most famous one.

Hazy Istanbul -- Photography by bass_nroll - http://www.flickr.com/photos/bass_nroll
Hazy Istanbul — Photography by bass_nroll – http://www.flickr.com/photos/bass_nroll

The city that used to be called Constantinople and Byzantium in ancient times, is today the most modern and contemporary face of this country, bringing the best of Europe and Asia together in this huge city of 13.5m people.This amalgamation comes together to perfection, with the Bosphorus straight separating the city.

(Hazy Istanbul — Photography by bass_nroll)

In Istanbul, one can enjoy excellent Islamic architecture, but none more than the world famous Hagia Sophia, what was the largest cathedral in the world for almost a thousand years. This iconic construction used to be an Orthodox church at first, a mosque later and is now a museum.

Another of the main landmarks of this city is Topkapı Palace, a huge palace that used to be the home of the many Ottoman sultans that inhabited the city throughout the centuries. Today, you can visit most of its rooms and chambers and enjoy this monument which is the biggest emblem of the Ottoman Empire.

The Sultanahmet Mosque is another important landmark in the city, also known as the Blue Mosque, and by this name you can imagine its beauty. Perhaps the most aesthetically beautiful, this mosque is the biggest in Turkey, where you can still pray but also visit. Its courtyard in the evening is quite an unbelievable sight.

Istanbul is also famous for its Grand Bazaar, one of the most emblematic bazaars in the Islamic world. What you can’t buy here, you can’t buy anywhere else. There are over 3000 stalls that sell anything from food, spices, clothes, antiques, jewelery, phones, and souvenirs, and haggling here is a must. Get lost amongst its stalls and find the bargain you’ve been looking for at the right price. This 551 year-old bazaar receives over 300,000 visitors per day and is open Mon-Sat from 9am-7pm. A must if in Istanbul.

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Istanbul Nightlife

Bars on Nevizade Sokak, Beyoglu, Istanbul, Turkey
Bars on Nevizade Sokak, Beyoglu, Istanbul, Turkey

Another of Istanbul’s greatest aspects is its nightlife and social life. This is a city where you spend most of your time on the streets, on bar terraces or simply admiring the sights.

(image courtesty of Telegraph.co.uk)

Make sure you try the excellent Turkish coffee and perhaps, if you’re lucky, someone will read your fortune from the remains of the coffee grains in your cup. To enjoy its vibrant nightlife and bar scene, visit the Beyoğlu district, where the city comes to life at night and the vibrancy is everywhere in the air.

Turkish cuisine is also a great aspect of this city. The most famous food here is the döner kebab, but forget about those you’ve tried anywhere else, the döner here is something different. The meat and the pitta bread are quite simply delicious, whether it’s chicken, beef or lamb (try the lamb!), and the spices and sauces that go inside are quite simply delightful.

It’s quite hard to explain such an amazing city in such little space, and this article is only a small insight. Check out the apartments in Istanbul prices vary and go and enjoy this city because it will be one of the most amazing experiences that you’ll ever have. And, if anything, that’s an understatement.

About the Author: Aleix Gwilliam is a 24 year old from Barcelona who looks English but thinks like a Catalan. He enjoys travelling, especially on old Czech trains, and trying to start conversations in Hungarian with people at Pecs station, even though his Hungarian is as good as his Bulgarian, in other words, not very good. He’s a trier.

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