Istanbul is a vibrant city where you can lose yourself in Istanbul’s grandiose history. Take a stroll around the city and admire the amazing mosques, museums and the Great Bazaar or why not visit a Turkish bath and get very clean!
It’s said that if you’ve never tried a Turkish bath then you’ve never been really clean. The visitor moves through several hot rooms and finally arrives at the massage table for a real going over. Men and women bathe separately, exceptions are made at certain times for tourists. Here is one recommended bathhouse:
Çemberlitas Hamam. Situated near the Bazaar, this is the oldest hamam in town and was reputedly built by the master architect Sinan.
The palace of the sultans with its many courtyards and gates brings on a nostalgia for times forgone. There are several special museums in the area; highlights include the Treasure Chamber, where the famous dagger and Spoonmaker's diamond are true stars of the collection, and the harem, where the sultan’s wives and children lived (the two are not included in the ticket price to the palace).
Aya Sofya is a remarkable mixture of Christianity and Islam, a church with minarets and a mosque with pictures of the Virgin Mary. The building is one of the wonders of world architecture which was only surpassed after a thousand years by St. Peter’s church in the 16th-century.
Built at the beginning of the 16th-century, this is the only mosque in Istanbul with six minarets. The building was given its name by the 20.000 blue Iznik tiles used in its construction.
Süleymaniye is the largest mosque dating from 1557 and also contains the mausoleum of sultan Süleyman and his wife Roxelane. The master architect Sinan built many of Istanbul’s mosques during the 1500s and is buried next to the mosque.
The Monastery was founded in the 5th century and contains wonderfully beautiful frescos and mosaics dating from 1000-1300 representing the Virgin Mary and the life of Jesus.
The Great bazaar attracts many people – far too many if you come at rush hour. It’s a good idea to arrive early in the morning and enjoy a cup of tea in one of the cafés whilst the bazaar comes to life. There are thousands of stalls, selling virtually everything, carpets, gold, cloth, spices. The bazaar is a world of its own and it’s easy, but fun, to get lost in the teeming alleyways.
Boats travel along the shores of the Bosporus from Eminönü, they chug quietly under the bridges that connect Europe and Asia. One hour away is Anadolukavagi, a little Asian fishing village with lots of pleasant restaurants.
You can travel to the largest of the Prince Islands with a Seabus, departing from Kabatas below the Dolmabahçe Palace. If you want to visit more of these islands, you can take the ordinary boat from Eminönü.