Historical, traditional and modern all at once, Istanbul has captivated the world with everything from its bazaars to local cultures
Istanbul is a magnet attracting every kind of visitor. It provides enough fodder for the history buff, while delighting the gastronome with its multi-national cuisine and filmmakers with its stunning backdrop. But beyond that, it is a haven for those looking to experience something different. Full of historic mosques and monuments, Istanbul is equally abounding in fancy boutiques, restaurants that are particularly appealing to the artists and fashionistas. The city feels decidedly modern and travellers from all over the world are taking note.
But perhaps the highlight of being here is the chance to have breakfast on one continent and lunch on another or dine between the two! Where in the world could you experience that?
One of the most famous buildings in Istanbul is the Hagia Sophia, which in many is another most visited attraction. The 67 metres high Galata Tower lording over the shoreline and the Istanbul Archaeological Museum with its vast collection of objects of civilisation from all over the world too add to its historic charm.
Movie-makers dream site
For years Hollywood and Bollywood filmmakers have turned Istanbul’s streets and bazaars into a playground for spies and intelligence agents. From James Bond to Indianised version of the same, spies have trawled this city looking for clues or singing in the streets so often that visitors are known to head straight to the Grand Bazaar or Ciragan Palace in the footsteps of the heroes. The picturesque city with tall minarets, bazaars, high fashion streets provides the perfect backdrop for film settings. Its vibrant nightlife has a reputation of being high-energy and known to keep you rocking till the early hours of dawn. Famously located along the Bosporus or Taksim, there are many popular hangouts for youngsters looking to experience the nightlife of Istanbul. It is said of Istanbul that once here, the likelihood of loving any other place in the world is nil.
Influenced by Asian, European and Middle Eastern cuisines, the Turkish culinary scene is as lively and flavourful like its streets and is easily one of the country’s main exports. Be it the humble shawarma or kebab, the richness of flavour and subtlety of taste is hard to put in words. Turkish Delights are but a must buy for every visitor and the locals swear by their ayran (a yogurt drink) as the best in the world, if and only if consumed from a copper bowl. Meats, fish and cheese are available in many varieties and the modest eggplant and zucchini turns into gourmet meal here! In Turkey, there is always food to choose from.
Words: Anjaly Thomas