Istanbul for the "History Freaks"



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Istanbul has been home to many different civilizations and nations over the centuries. What were once pagan temples were then converted churches, and then were embellished as mosques. Living quarters were arranged such that there were both a mosque and a church for all residents from differing nationalities and religions to pry. Even now in every old neighbourhood, you will see a church placed delicately a few blocks away from a mosque; and you will notice the irony as you observe Muslims going into a church to celebrate the Christmas or to light a candle. Palaces, in fact “sinking” palaces were constructed to host Sultans and the Pashas. The fortresses, that is now surrounding what used to be the old city, still tells the stories of war and conquests, glamour and courage. The hammams, where the mothers once used to observe the neighbours’ daughters and pick among them for their sons to marry, are still frequented by ladies –although the parade like atmosphere of the old times no longer exists. To finalize, the culture and history of many civilizations are still embedded in the lives of the local people. It is in a shop, in a gesture, in a tradition or a in a routine. But, it is not far away; and with this guide hopefully, those thriving on history and culture will be able to satiate their appetites. The guide has been designed assuming that the visitors are in a treat for a week. However, days 1&2 can easily be combined to reduce the number of days for the trip. The recommended time of the year for the trip is April or May, as the weather will be cool enough and warm enough for enjoying the city in open air and walking around it at ease.

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Author: aisha


Day 1 - Istanbul


Below you will find some recommended places to stay during your visit in Istanbul. The Four Season is a luxury stay, for which you will have to expand your budget, but you will definitely not regret it. Pierre Loti Hotel is a 3 star hotel, located just next to the tram line. Those who have stayed here always praise its unbeatable convenient location, which is only a few minutes away from the major attractions in Sultanahmet. The hotel staff is friendly and they promise you "a comfortable sleep in history." Kybele Hotel is a cozy boutique hotel offering its guests a unique experience. In fact, many tourists who have stayed here over the years describe their stay as an overwhelming experience and the place as home away from home. Once you have checked in at your hotel, get out onto the streets. Give yourself some time to get accustomed to your whereabouts. Wander around these old, but lively streets. Stroll through the side streets and have a look at jewelry stores, antique shops, and historical buildings. The Sultanahmet Square, where you should be or should eventually beat your path to, is the first of the seven hills on the promontory of Istanbul/ It has been the most important and the most dynamic part of the city in all ages. Start treasure hunting in this dynamic district from the Hippodrome, around which are many other monuments that you will want to see, including the Egyptian Obelisk -also called The Obelisk Of Theodosius I- (an imitation of the real obelisk; it is located on the southern side of the Hippodrome), the 8-meter high Serpent Column erected in the middle of the Hippodrome, the octagonal domed fountain at the entrance to the Hippodrome and the Cistern of thousand and one columns located to the west of the Hippodrome -also called the "Sinking" or the "Underground" Palace by the locals. During the renovation of the Cistern, small booths for vendors, a cafe, and new exhibition areas were constructed. Enjoy your lunch or coffee break here inside at the café within the borders of a historical and mystical place. If you have time other historical points of interest would include: the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art, The Augusteion and Millairium victory arch. Most of the sights in the old city are close enough to be reached on foot, as they are located in or around the Sultanahmet Square. For many others, just follow the tram line. For dinner you may go to any of the following restaurants you will see below. For fish, Balikci Sabahattin is known for his delicious meals, although the locals would claim that he is a bit overpriced. Hotel Four Season's Restaurant is always a delicacy on its own; you may also consider a decent dinner there and feast on delicacies from Ottoman cuisine to world cuisine.


1

Four Seasons Hotel

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Location:

Tevkifhane Sokak No. 1
Sultanahmet-Eminönü
34110 Istanbul, Turkey

Contact:

tel: 90 212 402 3000
fax: 90 212 402 3010


2

Kybele Hotel

Location:

Yerebatan Caddesi 35
34410 Istanbul, Turkey

Contact:

tel: 90 212 511 7766
fax: 90 212 513 4393


3

Pierre Loti Hotel

Location:

Piyerloti Cad. No: 1,
Sultanahmet - Cemberlitas
34400 Istanbul, Turkey

Contact:

tel: 90 212 518 5700
fax: 90 212 516 1886


4

Hippodrome

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Location:

Sultanahmet Meydani (Square)
At Meydani (Horse Plaza), Sultanahmet
Istanbul, Turkey


5

Egyptian Obelisk

Location:

Hippodrome Square
Istanbul, Turkey


6

Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarayi)

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Location:

Yerebatan Caddesi 13
(Near St. Sophia)
34110 Istanbul, Turkey

Contact:

tel: 90 212 522 1259


7

Balikçi Sabahattin

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Location:

Seyit Hasan Koyu Sokak 50,
Cankurtaran Caddesi
Istanbul, Turkey

Contact:

tel: 90 212 458 1824


Day 2 - Istanbul


Use your second day to complete your tour in the Sultanahmet square. Start your morning early around 8 or 9 am with "simit, kasar, and cay" (Turkish bagels, pale yellow cheese from sheep's milk, and traditional Turkish black tea) at any of the "kahves" (cafes) around the Sultanahmet square. Kahve is an open coffee shop. You will observe a lot of kahves in the district and around Istanbul. Then, head for the Topkapi Palace, which is also in the proximity of Sultanahmet region -walkable distance. The Palace is an overwhelmingly beautiful and huge place. It is likely to take more than 3 or even 4 hours of your day. In fact, there is a likely possibility that you may in fact get lost in this huge and magnificent place! Once you are out of the Palace, enjoy your lunch Tarihi Selim Usta Sultanahmet Koftecisi: famous meatballs of Sultanahmet (see below for address details). If you still have room for desert go to the Pudding shop, a fine print of the generation of the 60s, the Turkish baby-boomers. Next, head for the Hagia Sophia. If you have started the day early enough, visit the Blue Mosque as well. Blue Mosque is an imperial mosque and a perfect example of classical Turkish architecture. It is the only mosque that was originally built with six minarets. Built between 1609-1616, the mosque used to be part of a large complex, including a covered bazaar, Turkish baths, public kitchens, a hospital, schools, a caravanserai, and the mausoleum of Sultan Ahmet. Some of these social and cultural buildings have not survived to our day. The blue of the paintwork, which gives the mosque its name, was not the original color of the decorations; they were painted blue during the restorations. For dinner, Asitane is highly recommended. Located next to the Kariye Museum (a must-see as well, although not open after 16.30 and not open at all on Wednesdays), Asitane is a delightful cultural and gastronomic experience. Very friendly service, not overly obsequious, and elegant... The prices are not overwhelming either, but a decent dinner would be around 35-40 euros a person. If you may, try to contact the Kariye Museum or the hotel to see if you may be able to visit the museum after hours -before you enjoy your Ottoman style dinner at Asitane.


1

Topkapi Palace

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Location:

Sultanahmet Meydanı
34122 Istanbul, Turkey

Contact:

tel: 90 212 522 4422
fax: +90 212 528 5991


2

Tarihi Selim Usta Sultanahmet Köftecisi

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Location:

12 Divan Yolu
34110 Istanbul, Turkey

Contact:

tel: 90 212 513 1438


3

Pudding Shop

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Location:

18 Divan Yolu
Sultanahmet (across from the tram)
Istanbul, Turkey

Contact:

tel: 90 212 522 2970


4

Hagia Sophia

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Location:

Sultanahmet Square
Istanbul, Turkey


5

Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Mosque)

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Location:

Tavukhane Sokak 5-27
34420 Istanbul, Turkey

Contact:

tel: 90 212 518 1802 (Sultanahmet tourist info office)
fax: 90 212 518 1802 (Sultanahmet tourist info office)


6

Kariye Museum

Location:

Kariye Camii Street
Istanbul, Turkey


7

Asitane Restaurant

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Location:

Kariye Camii Sokak 6
Kariye Hotel
34240 Istanbul, Turkey

Contact:

tel: 90 212 635 7997
fax: 90 212 521 6631


Day 3 - Istanbul


Start as early as 8 and go to Grand bazaar early in the morning to see how the locals open up their businesses, stands and also to benefit from the lack of people swarming around –Grand Bazaar may get overcrowded in the afternoon especially on the weekend. Give yourself enough time to enjoy the 3000 jewelry, cloth, leather, handcrafts, and antique shops that are found inside. Enjoy a light lunch inside of the bazaar inns (there are numerous coffee shops and restaurants inside). From the Bazaar, head for the Beyazit Square, which is very close to the Grand Bazaar –walking distance. The square derives its name from the Beyazit Mosque inside the square. The mosque was built in the 15th century. The square was also sometimes called “Forum Tauri” (Square of Bulls), because there used to be a gigantic triumphal arch in the center with bronze bull heads. A few marble blocks and column fragments remains now of the triumphal arch. To the north of the square, is the campus of the University of Istanbul, which now occupies the ground on which Mehmet the Conqueror built his first palace. The monumental gate of the university and the fire lookout tower in the garden are from the 19th century. Walking along the Fuat Pasa Caddesi, you will reach the Suleymaniye Mosque. The Suleymaniye Mosque is an architectural masterpiece, commissioned by Suleyman the Magnificent -the longest reigning among the thirty-six Ottoman sultans (ruled for 47 years in this century)- to be built. Later, head for the spice market, where you may also enjoy a timely dinner after a long day of sightseeing around the city. The spice market is another interesting place. As the name suggests itself, there are many spice vendors inside the market. However, there are also many different stores selling various stuff from cosmetics to pets...


1

Kapali Çarsi (Covered Market)

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Location:

22 Kalpakçılar Caddesi
34975 Istanbul, Turkey

Contact:

tel: 90 212 519 1248


2

Süleymaniye Camii (Süleymaniye Mosque)

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Location:

Süleymaniye Mosque, next to Istanbul University's north gate, Suleymaniye, Fatih
34110 Istanbul, Turkey


3

Spice Bazaar (Mısır çarşısı)

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Location:

Behind the New Mosque in Eminönü
Istanbul, Turkey


4

Pandeli Lokantasi

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Location:

1 Misir Çarsisi
Eminönü (immediately inside the entrance to the Egyptian Bazaar)
Istanbul, Turkey

Contact:

tel: 90 212 522 5534


Day 4 - Istanbul, Beyoğlu


Go early in the morning to Taksim before the place gets crowded with people in the afternoon. Take the tram from Sultanahmet to Karakoy, from where you connect to Taksim square with the funicular. From the main square, take the Istiklal street, one of the only pedestrian streets in Istanbul. Walk all the way down this street, slowly, seizing your moments. If you are interested in second-hand items, have a look at the inns around Galatasaray, where second hand items and handcrafts are sold. Most well known passages include El-hamra,Halep and Aznavur… When you get tired rest at one of the pastries: Dilek, Barselona, or Ozsut (all located towards the south end of the street). Or, go to the Inci Profiterole Pastry, the only original and authentic pastry of its kind making delicious profiterole -located on the upper end of the Istiklal. For lunch, try Hala Restaurant. They make traditional Turkish dumplings (manti) and tortillas (gozleme). Or. you may want to go to an "Ocakbasi" restaurant, which is a traditional kebab house. Below is a recommendation. However, if you do go to a kebab house during the day, eat light, as the meals at kebab houses tend to be fatty and heavy. Leave some room for your dinner. Once you reach to the bottom of the street, which is called the Tunnel among the locals, pay a visit to the Dervish Lodge, another historical-philosophical epitome of Istanbul. Visit also the Anglican Church and the St. Antoine Church, the Pera Museum and the galleries inside the famous Misir Apartmani -all again on the Istiklal Street. If you are interested visit a Turkish steam bath / hamam in the afternoon. For dinner make reservations at 360 Istanbul, "a" quality restaurant offering a panoramic view of the city. Or, you may go to La Brise, which is a French bistro inside one of the side streets of the Istiklal. Later on you may enjoy a performance at the Ataturk Culture Center; or go to Nisantasi to listen to Jazz.


1

İstiklal Caddesi

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Location:

İstiklal Caddesi
Istiklal Cad., Beyoglu
34437 Istanbul, Turkey


2

Galata Tower

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Location:

Galata
Istanbul, Turkey

Contact:

tel: 90 212 245 11 60


3

Galata Mevlevihanesi (Dervish Lodge)

Location:

Galip Dede Caddesi 15
Tünel
34430 Istanbul, Turkey

Contact:

tel: 90 212 245 4141


4

Anglican Church

Location:

Serdar-ı Ekrem Caddesi
Beyoglu
Istanbul, Turkey


5

Saint Antoine Church

Location:

İstiklal Caddesi
Galatasaray
Istanbul, Turkey


6

Musa Ustam Ocakbaşı

Location:

14 Istiklal Caddesi
Istanbul, Turkey

Contact:

tel: 90 212 245 2932
fax: 90 212 249 4023


7

Galeri Apel

Location:

Hayriye Cadessi 7
Galatasary
800060 Istanbul, Turkey

Contact:

tel: 90 212 292 7236
fax: 90 212 251 7174


8

Galerist

Location:

Istiklal Caddesi
311 Misir Appartments
34340 Beyoğlu, Turkey

Contact:

tel: 90 212 244 8230
fax: +90 212 244 8229


9

Platform Garanti Contemporary Art Center

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Location:

Istikal Cadessi No. 276 34340
Beyoglu
80050 Istanbul, Turkey

Contact:

tel: 90 212 293 2361
fax: 90 212 293 3071


10

Galatasaray Hamam

Location:

Junction of Turnacıbaşı and Capanoglu Streets No:24 Galatasaray
Galatasaray
Istanbul, Turkey

Contact:

tel: 90 212 252 4242


11

360 Istanbul

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Location:

Misir Apt. K:8 N:32/309
Istiklal Caddesi
80600 Istanbul, Turkey

Contact:

tel: 90 212 251 1042 / 90 212 251 1043
fax: 90 212 251 1048


12

La Brise

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Location:

Asmalı Mescit Caddesi 28
Istanbul, Turkey

Contact:

tel: 90 212 244 48 46


13

Ataturk Culture Center

Location:

Taksim Square
Taksim
80090 Istanbul, Turkey

Contact:

tel: 90 212 252 3500


14

Kerem Görsev Jazz Bar

Location:

Abdi Ipekçi Caddesi 61/1
Tesvikiye
Istanbul, Turkey

Contact:

tel: 90 212 231 3950
fax: 90 212 231 3928


Day 5 - Istanbul


If you haven't yet been to the hamam the day before, use early morning as an occasion to do so, and visit either Gedikpasa or Cagaloglu hamam -both near Sultanahmet region. Later go to Karakoy and visit Istanbul Modern Museum (http://www.istanbulmodern.org/). Enjoy your lunch inside the museum's sophisticated and elegant cafe, which is located right next to the sea. After you have re-cooped your energy, go to the Dolmabahce Palace, and later to Istanbul Archaeological Museum. For dinner make reservations far in advance at Feriye Restaurant in Ortakoy. Literally positioned on the sea, this restaurant is sophistication, delicacy and elegance... If you would rather keep it low and light for the night, go to Assk Cafe for a wine and gourmet cheese plate. Also located by the sea, Assk Cafe is locals' choice for a tranquil and cozy night.


1

Gedikpasa Hamam

Location:

Caddesi Neviye 21
Beyazit
34126 Istanbul, Turkey

Contact:

tel: 90 212 516 8753
fax: 90 212 516 0488


2

Cagaloglu Hamam

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Location:

Prof Kazim Ismail Gürkan Caddesi 34
Cagaloglu
Istanbul, Turkey

Contact:

tel: 90 212 522 2424
fax: 90 212 512 8553


3

Istanbul Modern

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Location:

Meclis-i Mebusan Cad. Liman Sahasý Antrepo No: 4
Karaköy
Istanbul, Turkey

Contact:

tel: 90 212 334 7300
fax: 90 212 243 4319


4

Dolmabahçe Palace

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Location:

Dolmabahce Caddesi
Besiktas
Istanbul, Turkey

Contact:

tel: 90 212 236 9000
fax: 90 212 236 3577


5

Istanbul Archaeological Museum

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Location:

Osman Hamdi Bey Yokusu Gülhane
34425 Istanbul, Turkey

Contact:

tel: 90 212 520 7740


6

Feriye

Location:

Çırağan Cad. No: 40
Istanbul, Turkey

Contact:

tel: 90 212 227 2216
fax: 90 212 236 5799


7

Aşşk Kahve

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Location:

Muallim Naci Cad. 170/A
34975 Istanbul, Turkey

Contact:

tel: 90 212 265 47 34
fax: +90 212 287 5780


Day 6 - Istanbul


Use this day to relax yourself and your tired feet and enjoy the city in a laid back way. Start your day with a large breakfast by the coast. Go to the Rumeli Fortress, where there are numerous little "kahves" to have breakfast at. Or, for something more upscale go to Assk Cafe or Mangerie; and then walk or take a cab to the Fortress to pay a visit to these loyal walls that have surrounded the city for centuries. Mind that Assk Cafe, which we said is a tranquil place at night, is quite the opposite during the day. Assk Cafe gets quite busy from 11 am to 8 pm during the weekends. After you have seen the Fortress, do the Bosphorus tour with the ferry. Although it is not a must-see, if you are interested, get off at Uskudar and pay a visit to the Beylerbeyi Palace. In the afternoon relax and shop around Nisantasi or go back to Istiklal to discover the authentic little towns behind this main street: Cukurcuma, Galatasaray and the French Street. For dinner depending on your mood try Hunkar (Ottoman cusine in Nisantasi), Haci Abdullah (a very old Turkish restaurant in Taksim), Changa (a very authentic and sophisticated restaurant in Taksim Siraselviler), or the Kiz Kulesi, which would totally off the trail, but worth the effort. Kiz Kulesi Restaurant is located inside the Kiz Kulesi Tower and is on an island in the middle of the sea. If you feel like chilling out on a Saturday night, try NuTeras, Cezayir or Hayal Kahvesi.


1

Sade Kahve

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Location:

Yahya Kemal Caddesi No:36/1 Rumelihisari
Rumeli Hisari
Istanbul, Turkey

Contact:

tel: 90 212 358 23 24
fax: 90 212 257 29 48


2

Mangerie

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Location:

Cevdetpasa Caddesi 69 Bebek
80810 Istanbul, Turkey

Contact:

tel: 90 212 263 51 99


4

Istanbul Ferry

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Location:

Various locations
Istanbul, Turkey


5

Beylerbeyi Palace

Location:

Abdullahağa Caddesi Beylerbeyi Uskudar
34676 Istanbul, Turkey

Contact:

tel: 90 216 321 9320
fax: 90 216 321 9322


6

Hünkar

Location:

Mim Kemal Öke Caddesi 21
Nişantaşı
34360 Istanbul, Turkey

Contact:

tel: 90 212 225 4662 / 90 212 225 4665


7

Changa

Location:

Siraselviler Caddesi 87/1
Taksim
Istanbul, Turkey

Contact:

tel: 90 212 249 1348
fax: 90 212 249 1157


8

Haci Abdullah

Location:

Sakizağacı Caddesi 17
Beyoğlu
Istanbul, Turkey

Contact:

tel: 90 212 293 8561


9

Kiz Kulesi Restaurant

Location:

Bosphorus Strait
Üsküdar
Istanbul, Turkey

Contact:

tel: 90 216 342 47 47
fax: +90 216 495 2885


10

Cezayir

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Location:

Hariyre Caddesi 12
Galatasaray
34425 Istanbul, Turkey

Contact:

tel: 90 212 245 9980


11

Hayal Kahvesi

Location:

Büyükparmakkapi Sokak 19
(off Istiklal Caddesi)
Istanbul, Turkey

Contact:

tel: 90 212 244 2558
fax: +90 212 292 7837


12

Nu Club

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Location:

Tepebaşı Mesrutiyet Caddesi 147-149
Petit-Champs Passage
Istanbul, Turkey

Contact:

tel: 90 212 245 6070


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