Istanbul activities and tours
Architecture: a city in flux
Istanbul's population is estimated at around 15 million, compared with just 1 million in 1960. Istanbul is a booming city. The crowd is everywhere, all the time, sometimes "overwhelming" as in the streets that go up from Sultanhamam (the clothing district) to the Grand Bazaar.
In recent years, big works (some gigantic even!) were realized. shores of the Bosphorus are connected by 2 bridges built in 1973 and 1985. More recently, many prestigious buildings (mosques and museums) have been restored, and it is not finished. A railway tunnel under the Bosphorus (a huge site known as the “Marmaray project”) was commissioned at the end of 2013. A second tunnel under the Bosphorus (Avrasya tüneli) has enabled vehicles to reach the north of Kadıköy and the European side near Yenikapı since December 2 .
But for a successful renovation, how many failures ... The city suffers from a wild town planning. It pays the price: many pretty traditional houses, with wooden corbels, disappear to make way for buildings without soul. The new expressways and the renovations do not spare some magical places.
Hidden treasures of fallen splendor
Whereville, the slum from the suburbs, jams daily torrents of rain that run down the streets: modernity has its quirks that the visitor must face.
Look up as you descend the Sophie and the blue mosque from the Galata Bridge, at the end of the bridge, appreciate the superbly lit domes of the Yeni Cami (New Mosque) at night. Taste the red of Bosphorus under the light of the setting sun, in the blue of the earthenware Rüstem Paşa mosque. Look for them Byzantine churches with red bricks under the mask of ottoman mosques.
Istanbul hides many treasures of a building or even on the edge of a vacant lot. Gold diggers will not be disappointed!
28 km long, 660 m to 2 km wide, the Bosphorus is a very beautiful arm of the sea that links the Sea of Marmara to the Black Sea. It is one of the most strategic straits in the world! Rather than separating Europe and Asia, the Bosporus brings the two continents closer together because it is indeed a “river route”, taken each year by thousands of ships and ferries. A superb cruise to do, which allows you to appreciate the beauty of this strait and its shores steeped in history.
Where to take a Turkish bath in Istanbul?
Istanbul has few hammams in proportion to its number of inhabitants. The oldest are overflowing with very beautiful architectures, releasing an oriental atmosphere of the most refined.
In general, the massage most often results from energetic and sometimes brutal soaping. It rarely lasts more than 5 minutes. Those with back problems had better avoid them. It is customary to tip masseurs. Some hotels have their own hammam, sometimes accessible to those who do not live there (but paying in any case).
To make the most of the city's riches while pampering your wallet, nothing better than the list of free sites and monuments Sophie, Ahmet I and Suleiman the Magnificent, the İş Bankası Museum, the Doğançay Museum, the Yıldız Park, City Museum, Aşiyan Museum (Bosphorus), Tophane Pavilion, Cumhuriyet Art Gallery, Mısır Apartmanı Art Galleries, Borusan Müzik Evi, Arter, Space of Art and Kasa Galeri (House Minerva), Ataturk's former chamber at Pera Palas, Eyüp's tomb are free every day.
Otherwise, the Sakıp Sabancı Museum (Bosphorus), Pera Museum for students, and the Princes' Islands Museum (on Büyük Island) are free on Wednesdays.
In Istanbul, commerce is more than a tradition, it's a reason for living. The sellers of simit carry their trays on their heads, those of early produce push their handcarts between the cars, those of Sahlep rock the long winter evenings with their haunting voices. Merchants have their temples, of course; the Egyptian Bazaar or the Grand Bazaar.
Pazar (Sunday) is the day of the market saying. But in fact, markets set up in the streets all week; much less touristy but otherwise picturesque, it's a nice way to see the city from the inside.
Each neighborhood has its own day; according to your tastes or your calendar, do your shopping in the middle of the Istanbulites!
Whirling Dervishes (Mevlevi)
In Istanbul, there has been a relative tolerance since the 1950s and about twenty tekke are in activity. Some accept visitors, others are reserved strictly for members of the congregation.
In the traditional tekke, one can attend shows on Sunday afternoon, for tourists (reservations are advised).
- More info on whirling dervishes.
Where to go out in Istanbul?
Istanbul's youth frequent very different neighborhoods according to their standard of living. The more silvery ones spend their nights on the Bosphorus, especially on theOrtaköy, Arnavutkoy et Kurucesme. In winter, rather at Etiler et Levente, modern neighborhoods that we have not included in this guide. In these places, it will be necessary to have a correct dress and to arrive in equal numbers of boys and girls. The middle classes prefer Beyoglu : Tünel, Cihangir and Taksim, but especially Galatasaray.
Young and old from the popular classes come out to Aksaray, Sirkeci and sometimes Beyoğlu (Tarlabaşı). This is where many cabarets called Foliberjer, Şanzelize or Mulenruj flourish! The most seasoned among you will smile. But some tourists continue to fall prey to touts who approach them in French. These easily recognizable places are teeming with prostitutes who bear the misleading name of konsomatris.
The drinks. You also have to take into account the season, Istanbul here.