Monday, July 15, 2024

Istanbullian Tells;20 Places to Visit in Istanbul



In this article, I made a must-do travel plan to visit Istanbul… The reason is that I have been asked about the beautiful places of Istanbul for years and we talked about places to visit. Some had traveled a lot about Turkey, some who had never been there… But generally, people had seen Istanbul and had some information about it. I’ve lived like this in Boston, New York, Miami… Oh wow!!! I say “but” here because everyone can visit Istanbul, but if you want to make good use of time, stop there and see… You should listen to an Istanbulite…
As a former Istanbulite, I decided to introduce you to the historical places of Istanbul through the eyes of an Istanbulite…
If you want to visit Istanbul in detail, you should spare at least 10 days. Each travel destination I have listed below; will take at least half a day and maybe a full day, but when you finish the day, you will see that it was worth it. I can say that you will no longer be the same person. If you want to go to different worlds and times, follow me! Today I am your Istanbul guide…

1.Welcome to Istanbul with our bonus “Bosphorus Bridges”: Istanbul, the only city in the world with 3 bridges connecting the Asian and European continents, has a special magnificence with its night lights. You can see it in plenty of Turkish TV series that America admires.
Old Istanbul must be visited! The destination is Sultanahmet, located on the European side… I recommend that you start such a trip early and have breakfast at the Four-Season Hotel Sultanahmet. It will be a very classy start, trust me.

A very nice start to the day by feeling the Italian atmosphere in Istanbul, then we will go back and forth between the Ottoman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, and the Genoese because…
Hagia Sophia, Sultan Ahmet Mosque, Basilica Cistern, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, and Grand Bazaar are located in the same location in Sultanahmet Square. You should spend at least 3 days in this region. Because each one is a different world, you will understand when I write.

2.Hagia Sophia Museum: It is located in Sultanahmet. It awaits its visitors with its magnificent colors and timeless majesty. Although it has been shuttling between museums and mosques lately, it has started to be used as a museum again for tourists. You should go!

Hagia Sophia means sacred wisdom, divine wisdom. The word “Hagia”, that is, “Aya”, comes from the sacred word, and the word “Sophia”, that is, “Sofia” comes from the Ancient Greek word “Sophos”, which means wisdom. Divine wisdom is considered one of the three attributes of God in Orthodoxy.
It was a basilica-planned patriarchal cathedral built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian the First the old city center of Istanbul’s historical peninsula between 532 and 537. After the conquest of Istanbul by the Ottomans in 1453. It was converted into a mosque by Mehmed the Second.

Photograph: Johannes Moths

3.Topkapi Palace; Needless to say, it is a must-go! You should go to the heart of the Ottoman Empire and especially see the “Harem” section. A world where only women live… You may hear the whispers of the most beautiful women in the world who lived there a long time ago. Their pain, happiness, loneliness, and intrigue are like perfume permeated on its walls… I have always been very impressed by the Harem, where great secrets are hidden in silk walls.

4.Basilica Cistern; Basilica Cistern is a closed water cistern built in Istanbul in 526-527 to meet the water needs of the city. It is on Soğukçeşme Street, southwest of Hagia Sophia. It is popularly called the Basilica Palace because of the many marble columns rising from the water. (Wikipedia)

I last visited it in the summer of 2022, believe me, it was fascinating! You will also be very impressed by the current sculpture exhibitions in the cistern, where you will also see the Medusa statue.

If you ask why there is a Medusa statue; Since Medusa is a woman of misfortunes and a story of war that does not give up, the usage area of the symbol is also expanding.
Medusa is a woman with a snake head. The most famous legend about Medusa is that she fell victim to jealousy. This is already in the destiny of beautiful women, even I can tell you the stories of jealousy.
Anyway; According to legend, Medusa was a very beautiful woman with black eyes and long hair, and she was in love with the demigod Perseus, the son of Zeus. Athena, who was in love with Perseus, took Medusa’s beauty away out of jealousy and turned her hair into snakes. After this curse, every man who dared to look at Medusa was turned into stone. Perseus then cut off Medusa’s head and defeated many enemies with her power. According to another legend, Medusa, one of the three sisters, had the power to turn those who looked at her into stone. Because of this protective feature, Medusa’s head has been used to protect important places since Ancient Greece.

Weeping Column (Column of Tears): The Weeping Column, which resembles a tree trunk with pruned branches and has motifs called peacock eyes, looks wet, unlike other columns, and this column, like the Medusa Head column, has legends. According to legend, these motifs on the column are a representation of the torture suffered by the slaves working during the construction of the Basilica Cistern. The column is located in the middle of the cistern. There is also a popular belief that the wishes of those who put their finger into the hole in its body will come true. That’s why this column is also called the “wish column”.
The cistern, built by Byzantine Emperor Justinian the First, was later connected to Hadrian’s waterways, which met the water needs of the regions between the first and second hills of the city. After the conquest of Istanbul by the Ottomans, it served as a water distribution center around Sarayburnu and Bahce Kapisi.
Today it is used as a museum and event venue. It is operated by Kültür A.S., one of the subsidiaries of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality.
If you visit the museum these days, you can also see the exhibition called “Deeper (Daha Derin)”. There are works by Ali Abayoglu, Yasemin Aslan Bakiri, Berkay Bugdan, Malik Bulut, Aslı Irhan, Jennifer Steinkamp, Gunes Terkol, Muzaffer Tuncer and Ozan Unal.
Its place in popular culture and its place in me ?
The Cistern is the subject of Dan Brown’s thriller and mystery novel “Inferno”, published in 2013. The novel was adapted into a movie in 2016. For the Basilica Cistern sections in the movie starring Tom Hanks, a replica of the cistern was made on the film lot in Budapest, and shooting was done there in order not to damage the historical texture of the cistern.
When I visited it, I felt very mysterious due to the lighting, ambiance, columns, and statues. You should see it!

5.Grand Bazaar: The most wonderful and mysterious place of my childhood has a special place in my heart. I still feel like that kid holding his grandmother’s hand and wandering around with fascination every time I go there ? (My dear grandmother, I miss you so much)

I especially recommend you enter through the Nuruosmaniye Gate. I always prefer this door. If you want to see the products of all kinds of leather shops, jewelers, spice shops, and designers, come to the Grand Bazaar. You should especially drink Turkish coffee in the Historical Ottoman Coffeehouse. You can find everything you are looking for or not with the smell of all kinds of spice shops, lamps as if they came out of a thousand and one nights, silk textiles. To travel properly, it may take a day, I tell you ?

6.Raki – Fish on the Bosphorus; Yes, you finished Sultanahmet, it’s evening, what will you do? No sleep ?
Now we have come to the indispensable stop of Istanbul… We will have raki and fish on the Bosphorus in the evening…

An Istanbulite knows the most beautiful, most secluded, most magnificent raki-fish restaurants of Istanbul. I will give you a few addresses of my favorite spots. You can choose from these districts according to your budget. You can easily choose the raki-fish restaurants located in the magnificent mansions on the coastline in Arnavutkoy on the European side, and you can be sure that you will have a wonderful night with your appetizers, fresh fish and raki under the magnificent lights of the Bosphorus. Be sure to ask for the appetizers! If you go, will you remember me too? Cheers!
On the Anatolian Side, you can find quality raki and fish restaurants on the Cengelkoy-Anadolu Kavagı line.

7.Eating bread and “simit” on the ferry: Please inhale the smell of iodine while eating bagels and bread on the ferry and throwing them to the seagulls, as millions of Istanbulites have always done this.

8.Dolmabahce Palace; is a must-see! It is the place where the founder of our country, the Great Leader Atatürk, closed his eyes, but before it was the palace where the last Ottoman sultan Vahdettin lived. Maybe it’s for these reasons that I also feel both magnificence and sadness…

9.Bosphorus tour at sunset, be sure to do it ? You can participate in all kinds of sightseeing tours.

Photograph: Johannes Moths

10.You can decide by walking in Arnavutköy-Kuruçeşme-Bebek, watching the mansions, taking photos, and having a cool drink in Bebek, or whatever you want, according to the ambiance and your mood, you will see that it is suitable for every occasion.

11.Visit the Museum of Modern Art

12.Fener Greek Patriarchate: It has a special place in the Orthodox sect because it is located in the capital of the Byzantine Empire and is the mother church of most Orthodox churches today. The ecumenical patriarch holds the title of first among equals among other Eastern Orthodox bishops and, unlike the Catholic Church, does not interfere with autocephalous churches, which are fully autonomous. Despite this, he is considered the representative and religious leader of approximately 300 million Orthodox Christians in the world. (Wikipedia)

13.The Balat-Fener tour should be done and visited, and those who go there know; They are the similar streets of Naples, Italy…

14.The islands and especially Buyukada should be visited and if possible, stay at least one night. Tour the island on foot and observe the relaxed and cool style of the islanders, the magnificent waterside mansions will fascinate you.

15.Bagdat Street, the most decent street on the Anatolian side, is in the Kadıkoy district. Bagdat Street, which hosts the most decent and elite districts of Istanbul such as Suadiye, Erenkoy, Caddebostan, Goztepe, and Ciftehavuzlar, has always been a center of attraction with its wide sidewalks, shops of world-famous brands, luxury cars, modern and wide-ranging cafes, and restaurants. It is in the top 5 as the best and most stylish shopping street in Europe.

16.Nisantasi is a rare district where you can shop on foot and see stylish Istanbulites. The magnificence of the buildings, the “simit” shops on every corner, and the Tesvikiye Mosque are the symbols of the district. I recommend it for shopping and a stylish lunch. You will see a Turkish celebrity. Because someone’s fashion designer is there.

17.Watching a concert on the Harbiye Cemil Topuzlu stage is wonderful. I wrote about it in a previous article. I’m leaving the link, please read it there, I won’t write it again ?

18.Anyone who has not visited Istiklal Street / Taksim and Tunel once is not one of us ? I always compare it to the squares of Barcelona and Madrid.

19.Maiden’s Tower: Here’s another detail you won’t find anywhere else… We all grew up with the story of the princess who was locked in the “Maiden’s Tower”. The beautiful princess could not escape death and died in the “Maiden’s Tower” due to the bite of a poisonous snake.

According to the legend; Warned by a fortune teller that his daughter would die due to a snake bite, the king built a maiden’s tower on the rocks off Salacak to protect his daughter and placed his daughter in this tower. The king sends his daughter various foods in a basket at certain times, and one day, a snake hiding in the fruit basket poisons the king’s daughter and causes her death.
Another legend is about the Ottoman hero Battal Gazi. Seeing Battal Gazi stationed across the city, the Byzantine Tekfur became alarmed and hid his treasures and his daughter in this tower. But Battal Gazi, who captured the tower, took both the treasures and the princess and continued, passing Uskudar on his horse. It is rumored that this incident is the source of the expression “The one who took the horse passed Uskudar”.

20.Galata Tower: It was founded by the Genoese in the 13th century and has become a very important symbolic structure in the history of the Byzantines, Ottomans, and Turkey. A photo of Istanbul that does not include the Galata Tower, opposite the Blue Mosque and Topkapı Palace is unthinkable.

There is Pierre Loti Hill, which I did not list but could not pass without mentioning. As the name suggests, it was named after a Frenchman. If Paris has Cafe de Flore, we have Pierre Loti. Just ambiance ?
Finally, I would like to talk about one of the hundreds of reasons why our newspaper was born. While I was living in Boston, I had a brief conversation with a well-to-do person. He was a professor at a well-known university in Boston. He had his teeth fixed in Turkey / Istanbul. (Dental treatment in America is a difficult task, and Turkey is preferred due to its quality and non-astronomical prices.) Personally, as a Turk, I was happy. I asked excitedly if he was a well-known doctor and where he was from. Satisfied with the quality and the fact that the professor had his implants done at a reasonable price compared to America, he proudly talked about the place where he had them done: Bagcılar… I heard, I hesitated and couldn’t say anything ? Only Istanbulites will understand me here… But when many events happened on different issues like this, I realized that this is a need! And here we are today.
At ARTTMODERNMIAMI NEWSPAPER, we can provide contemporary, culture, life, travel, health, and much current news.
I think you should continue to follow us because if you go to Bagcılar from America, we will never meet.
I am humming one of Sezen’s songs and holding a glass of red wine in my hand…
“Istanbul, Istanbul olalı…” (Since Istanbul has been Istanbul)
Best regards
Tugba Yazici
Artist & Producer
Facebook: Tugba Yazıcı

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