Sun, 04 October 2020
We take you through our must-see destinations in the ever-so-popular capital of Turkey!
Turkey’s bustling capital, Istanbul, has long been a favourite holiday destination for most with travellers flocking to the sprawling city from every corner of the world. While most of our travel plans have been blown to smithereens, given the current state of the world with the spread of the coronavirus, Turkey is gearing up to welcome tourists once again. Turkish authorities reported one million tourists in July despite current circumstances and are now introducing rules and regulations city-wide in order to reopen restaurants and popular tourist destinations. With this in mind, our editor Farah Baig takes you through some of her favourite tourist destinations in the capital from her recent trip.
Popularly known as ‘The Blue Mosque, the Sultan Ahmet Mosque is a must-visit when in Istanbul. Be sure to plan ahead and visit as early as possible as the destination can get quite crowded and could lead to you waiting in line for hours. Completed in 1617, the mosque boasts a stunning composition of domes and six slender minarets which beautifully grace the city’s skyline. The mosque is located near the Hagia Sophia and the Byzantine Hippodrome, within a walking distance of the Topkapi Palace. You can easily reach any of these sites by making use of the city’s metro or taking a tour bus.
The Bosphorus, also known as the Istanbul Strait, is an internationally significant waterbody which divides Europe and Asia. It’s no secret that the city lies on both continents which makes for a very interesting experience! One of our favourite experiences on our visit was taking one of the many ferries from one side to the other. Just remember to be sure to check the schedule and take one back before the last one at night or getting back can prove to be somewhat challenging.
This stunning monument is a clear example of Istanbul’s rich history as it was converted from a church to a mosque, a museum then finally back into a mosque. The popular tourist destination, reflects signs of the changes with its Christian mosaics, Islamic scriptures and minarets. Whether during the day or night, the Hagia Sophia is definitely a stunning site to visit.
If you want to see something that will really blow your mind on your visit to Istanbul, check out the incredible Basilica Cistern which is located across the street from the Hagia Sophia. The magnificent cistern is one of hundreds of ancient cisterns in the city of Istanbul. It features hundreds of massive marble columns and is capable of holding 80,000 cubic meters of water. A truly interesting sight to behold at the cistern is definitely the two Medusa heads which support a couple of columns near the end of the cistern.
Delve into the royal splendour of the Topkapi Palace with its rich history, stunning architecture and sprawling gardens. This site makes a wonderful location for a long, leisurely stroll through what is now a museum. The palace complex has hundreds of rooms and chambers,with some of the most important still accessible to the public, including the Ottoman Imperial Harem and the treasury. The palace is dotted with interesting artifacts, intricate designs and mosaics and plenty of interesting information.
A paradise for shoppers all over the world. You’ll thoroughly enjoy taking in the sights and smells at the world-famous, sprawling Grand Bazaar. The spectacular market is over 500 years old and covers over sixty streets and alleyways. Here’s you’ll find a multitude of ornate items including Turkish lamps, spices, traditional soaps, tea sets and a mouth-watering variety of Turkish delight. Be sure to wear comfy shoes and take a large enough carry bag in case you do some major shopping.
A shopoholic’s dream - Taksim Square is frequented by millions of tourists every year and is a perfect entertainment location any time of the day. The lively street is dotted with a multitude of shops from popular international and regional retail brands. In addition, you’ll find quite a few of Turkey’s culinary delicacies sold on multiple corners, arcades, and even Madame Tussauds wax museum!