Istanbul is one of the largest cities in the world and subsequently, stands as the largest city in Turkey. Home to some of the most beautiful and historical artefacts, Istanbul is definitely a tourist hotspot. With two sides to the city, you have the option of visiting either the Asian or European side. The Asian side of the city is less populated than the European side and so as a tourist, the main goings on tends to be situated more so in the European part. Being the centre of trade, the European side of Istanbul is where all the hustle and bustle of a commercialised city takes place.
The Grand Bazaar is one of the world’s most exciting shopping experiences. This market comprises of over 3000 shops that cover 61 streets – impressive! From fresh fruit and aromatic spices to fine pieces of jewellery, handcrafted ornaments and clothes, there’s something to cater for everyone. And if you love a good bargain, haggling is all part of the experience!
Topkapi Palace is an extravagant monument located in the historic district of Sultanahmet. The palace was erected in 1459 and still stands as magnificent as ever today. The intricate designs of the building make it an outstanding tourist attraction. Inside the palace are Muslim holy relics, including the Prophet Muhammed’s cloak and sword. As a marker of respect, cameras and electronic devices are forbidden inside the palace and women must not enter in shorts, vest tops or other flesh revealing clothes.
A popular tourist district also in the European side of Istanbul is Taksim Square. Within the square lies a large shopping centre, many restaurants and the metro station. Aside from the historical artefacts, Taksim is a modern establishment. Walking down the street you will come across many familiarities including Burger King, McDonalds and Topshop. The strong Turkish heat can take its toll during a long day of shopping, but the friendly faces who walk the streets selling bottles of chilled water will put an end to your dehydration!
If Istanbul isn’t already on your ‘to-visit’ list, then I highly recommend you add it. The combination of culture, history and modernity creates the perfect tourist destination. The beauty of this wonderful city can only fully be appreciated through your own eyes. If I could go back tomorrow, I’d be there in a heartbeat.