Mini guide to Istanbul
Rarely will a visit to Turkey exclude the burgeoning, chaotic, confused, messy,
muddled and glorious wonder that is Istanbul. The city is home to a layering of
civilisation on civilisation, of empire built on empire. It's as momentous as
Rome, as captivating as Paris and as exotic as Bangkok.
The charm and character of Istanbul lie in its endless variety and jumble of
contradictions. Its fascinating history has bequeathed the city a vivid inheritance
of Byzantine ruins, splendid palaces, ancient mosques and churches, Turkish
baths and exotic bazaars. Modern Istanbul exudes trendy bars and nightclubs,
western boutiques, office blocks and elegant suburbs.
Driving around the city is really not an option unless you're into hair-raising
experiences. The Turks are not known for their courteous driving and parking
spaces are virtually non-existent. If you want to see a bit more of Turkey,
however, travelling by car is the only real way to get around, and there are
more than a few noteworthy sights to discover.
The splendid city of Istanbul has many unique and fascinating features. It
is the only city in the world reaching across two continents, with its old city
in Europe and modern Istanbul situated in Asia, separated by the Bosphorus Strait
which runs between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara.
Istanbul's (or Constantinople's) location on the water and role as capital
of the Roman Empire made it extremely desirable as a centre of world trade,
until Mehmet claimed it for the Ottoman Empire in 1453. After the War of Independence,
the capital was moved to Ankara, but Istanbul still remains the commercial,
historical and cultural heart of Turkey today.
There are regular flights into Istanbul from most countries of the world, operated
by a multitude of carriers. There are also major motorways in and out of the
city with good links to Eastern European countries. Additionally, access by
rail is also an option, with regular services running from Western Europe via
the eastern block.
Selection of hotels in this region:
Ceylan InterContinental Istanbul
The Marmara Hotel
Swissotel Istanbul The Bosphorus
Click below for a
full list of hotels and online booking