Sep 16

ISTANBUL: TOP 3 ACTIVITIES IN A ROMANTIC CITY BREAK

The best time to plan a city break in Istanbul is when you need an explosion of life and color – especially in the spring, if you want to open your appetite for Oriental experiences. Istanbul can be explored on a journey of three days and one of the first things you need to do to mingle along the city like a local, not a tourist, and that means using the public transport. Check if the hotel in Istanbul where will you accommodate is near the subway or ant bus lines that pass through the area. It’s good to know that taxis are quite expensive in Turkey.

 

Serve a delicious lunch among the Galleries on Istikal Street

If you like to walk around and observe people, but look for a special place where good things happen and at the same time enjoy the Turkish cuisine at its best, you must go on the pedestrianized Istiklal, where you will find everything you want, from cafes, to restaurants and traditional doner. So you can stay for more in the area for a delicious lunch. Anyway, the place is special in itself for its Art Nouveau architecture and 19th century European air – you will surely love it!

On Rue Francaise you can listen to live music, even in French, and if you want to flee two hours away from the crowds, you can invite your pair in a film, if you are both passionate about movies. You may walk on Istikal Street early morning after taking breakfast at the hotel.

From here you must not miss a ride on the nostalgic tram, where you can get down anywhere you want just to get lost together for a while. The Nostalgic Tram, as locals call it, begins its schedule on Istikal from early morning until late in the evening, at intervals of 15-20 minutes. In addition, the street is one of the liveliest places in Istanbul, so you will always encounter curious and friendly locals and tourists alike in this fascinating and lively area.

 

Buy a magic carpet from the Grand Bazaar

You will not see anywhere such an overwhelming explosion of color and diversity than during your vacation in Istanbul (maybe the Holi festival in India, when everyone is covered in vivid colors, but we will talk about it some other time). And one of the places where you could stop for a magical experience together with your partner is the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul itself. If you are lucky, you can find a magic carpet.

What could you buy? If you think about it, you could even purchase the engagement ring, wedding rings or gold jewelry at prices that are more than convenient, if you still choose a city break in Istanbul. And if you cannot find a magic carpet, handmade carpets though are absolutely gorgeous; you could opt for handmade souvenirs such as shoes, carpets and cashmere scarves. Whatever you buy, remember to negotiate for each product in order to preserve the local tradition. If you don’t have this innate talent and don’t know how to do that, you can buy anything at a price that will delight you.

 

Take a romantic walk on aristocratic roads of Princes’ Islands

If you thought that only means Istanbul oriental music and belly dancing, a day trip on the Princes’ Islands near Istanbul will change your opinion. The Princes’ or Princesses’ Islands (as they appear in other sources) will make you feel that you transported yourselves into a place in Europe of the last century, and almost nothing reminds you that you still are at the Gates of the Oriental world, where you arrived at first.

If you choose a city break in Istanbul together with your pair, you could opt for one of the less touristy islands of the nine islands in the Sea of Marmara. The largest and most popular is Buyukada Island, which seems to be a European colony, where moving carriages and Art Nouveau houses rise all over the area, giving the place an air of downright bourgeois. Conversely, if you want to go on a one day trip to enjoy a little more privacy, you can stroll along one of the smaller islands, such as Heybeliada, where you’ll find many restaurants and shops, or on the Burgazada Island. Weekends in Istanbul are quite busy, so you better choose a smaller island if you want to avoid crowds in Buyukada.

Photo source:

Picture 1: lonelyplanet.com; Picture 2: tripadvisor.com; Picture 3: theguardian.com; Picture 4: atbholidays.com; Picture 5: oskartours.com; Picture 6: mayartravel.com; Picture 7: lonelyplanet.com
Jul 04

ISTANBUL AND KUSADASI – TWO OF THE FAVORITE TURKISH LOCATIONS (ISTANBUL AND KUŞADASI )

Istanbul is the only city in the world that is placed on two continents. It is settled on the shores of Bosphorus, where the Black Sea waters meet the Marmara Sea. Istanbul seems to have been destined to become a capital city; we all remember that it was the capital of three former empires that left their mark on the world history.

Even today, the city still preserves the prints of these former civilizations and represents a harmonious bond between East and West, past and present, antique and modern, in all its splendor and mysticism.

Istanbul offers some of the most prolific and complex history and is one of the most beautiful charming and lively cities in the world. It has a life style and an atmosphere of its own because of the locals and the touristic attractions. So, when you get there, make sure you’re planning your schedule very wisely, as there are many things to do and see.

The old palaces, the ottoman mosques, the Byzantine churches, the bazaar and all the rest are wonderful and fascinating places that deserve to be discovered.

One of the most spectacular palaces is the Topkapi, on the shore of Marmara Sea by Suleiman the Magnificent. Also, Dolmbahce palace, built in the first half of the 19th century by Sultan Abdulmecit I; the Beylerbey palace, built in the same century by Abdulaziz and is entirely made of white marble; Yidiz and Gosku are two more wonderful palaces that will take your breath away.

Around Istanbul there are plenty of sights that will definitely impress any visitor; you must not miss the Islands of the Princes’ Islands, which is an archipelago of nine islands in the Marmara Sea, where the Byzantine princesses have been exiled by the ottomans. The Belgrade Forest, in the surroundings of Istanbul, is the widest forest in the area; here, you will find the vestiges of the aqueducts build at the order of Sinan Pasha. Also, you have the opportunity to visit the Birds’ Paradise and the Botanical Park in Bayramoglu-Darica (38 kilometers from Istanbul), which hosts numerous species of plants and birds from all over the world.

From Istanbul, you can continue your epic throughout Turkey. If you next stop is Kusadasi, you should know that it is one of the main resorts in the country, which will offer you unforgettable holiday memories. Kusadasi is located on the west coast of Turkey and is one of the most attractive places on the Aegean shore, being very close to important historical settlements such as Ephesus, Didyma, Priene, Zeus’s Tub 9other than the one on Olympus!!), Pamukale or Miletos.

The many beaches with warm and clear blue waters create the perfect environment for a perfect vacation; here you can windsurf, water ski or beach volley ball – just to mention a few of the possibilities for those who want to have an active holiday.

Besides the historical sites mentioned above, the city of Kusadasi have preserved many Ottoman mosques situated downtown: the Fortress Mosque, built at the order of Okuz Pasha in the 17th century is probably the most impressive. Hanim Mosque, erected in 1658 in the name of Haji Hatice Hatun, destroyed in 1922 and rebuilt between 1951 and 1957. Haji Ibrahim Mosque is another amazing example of spectacular Ottoman architecture, next to the Turkmen Mosque and Cami Atik Mosque, also found in the center of the city.

Kusadasi also follows the same pattern of the rest of oriental cities and it hosts a bazaar (not as big as the one in Istanbul), a modern city center with malls and luxurious shops, where you can find anything – from leather jackets to precious jewelries, souvenirs and food.

The place is packed with hotels that offer a wide range of conditions: from three to five stars, but regardless of the number of stars, they are all clean, welcoming and have great food.

Either way, you will love this experience!

Photo source

Picture 1: iffom.com; Picture 2: planetware.com; Picture 3: topdeck.travel; Picture 4: panoramio.com; Picture 5: stunningplaces.net; Picture 6: sf.co.ua; Picture 7: angelshomehotel.com; Picture 8: tripwow.tripadvisor.com; Picture 9: gotourturkey.com
Apr 25

HAGIA SOPHIA, THE EVERLASTING GREATNESS OF BYZANTUM (HAGIA SOPHIA)

http://www.dailyistanbulcitytour.com/

http://www.dailyistanbulcitytour.com/

The 1400 year old monument located in Istanbul, Turkey, is a magnificent structure of grand proportions, whose building is a proof of architectural mastery, considering that it has no steel structure and it completely functional after all these centuries of turmoil that have passed by, and is a living symbol of the greatness of the Byzantine Empire.  Another awing detail is the six-year span of the building process, compared to latter marvelous constructions, such as the Notre Dame in Paris, which, in Medieval times, needed almost a century to be finished.

http://www.bloggang.com/

http://www.bloggang.com/

The building began during the rule of Emperor Justinian I, in the year 532 A.D. and was opened to worship on the third day of Christmas, in the year 537. Its name means “Divine Wisdom”, but it was commonly known as “Megalo Basiliko” – the Great Church.

Hagia Sophia that we know today is a greater replica build after another great cathedral had been burned in a riot against Justinian I. The prior has been built by Emperor Constantine on the same spot, and Justitian I, who survived the riot, decided to make another one, greater and more outstanding.

http://www.dailyistanbulcitytour.com/

http://www.dailyistanbulcitytour.com/

The great edifice was made at tremendous cost, but it was meant to last over the ages, earthquakes, conquests and several alterations, including a transformation into an Islamic mosque (in 1453 by faith Sultan Mehmet) followed by a conversion into a museum (in 1935 by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the progressive Turkish president), which is today.

The entire grandeur is topped by the central dome with a diameter of 31 meters, which stands 56 meters above ground and seems to be supported by an invisible thread coming from the very sky.

Mosaics made of gold, silver, terra cota, semi-precious stones, the polychrome green, pink, yellow and white marble, the upper windows stairs and the several strategic entrances – each dedicated to a certain social rank – prove that Hagia Sophia is one of the architectural marvels of all times. Emperor Justinian gave order that the greatest materials to be brought from all the regions of the empire, such as Anatolia, Syria, Ephessus and Egypt. It is said that Emperor Justinian I exclaimed upon the finishing of the oeuvre: “Solomon, I have outdone thee!” Modern architects say that no photography can comprise it’s grace and refinement and

https://ro.wikipedia.org/

https://ro.wikipedia.org/

The filigree mosaic representing Jesus Christ, Holy Virgin Mary, John the Baptizer and pendentives of seraphim images have been covered in clay at one point during the Ottoman rule, but they are still is visible, despite the carefully placed layers, which is an unexplainable, if not miraculous fact.

http://www.livescience.com/

http://www.livescience.com/

Besides the structure itself, there is a number of five tombs belonging to Ottoman Sultans and their family members. The Ottomans have added a madrasa (higher level school) and minarets to serve to the Islam assessment and four calligraphy panels stating Quran verses.

Currently it works as a museum, welcoming tourists from all over the world and its beauty and divine brilliance doesn’t cease to awe and fascinate the visitors.