Ask any friend to compose top favorite cities, and with a ninety percent probability Istanbul will be among them - this is an ideal place for a weekend trip, but at the same time it can easily entertain travelers for more than a week. You can fly to Istanbul with a direct regular flight from thirteen Russian cities, here it is inexpensive, tasty and very authentic. We will tell you what must be done in this city, what to inspire and where to take cool photos.
Text: Evgeniya Pisman
One of the most beautiful mosques in the world, lined from the inside with soft blue tiles from the city of Iznik craftsmen. According to legend, the sultan ordered the construction of four golden minarets, but the architect got carried away and built six. “I swear by Allah, O lord, you said 'alty', that is, six,” the architect justified. “I said 'altyn', golden minarets,” sultan Ahmed roared. A scandal was brewing in the Islamic world - the Blue Mosque had as many minarets as the Forbidden Mosque in Mecca. The sultan scratched his beard and ordered the completion of another minaret in Mecca so that it remained unsurpassed.
If you have only three hours in Istanbul, they should be spent in the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Byzantine Empire, at the sight of which the ambassadors of Prince Vladimir were speechless long ago: "We do not remember ourselves, where we stand - in heaven or on earth!" One wants to admire the Church of Hagia Sophia like Russian ambassadors: you can look at the walls of twelve types of marble for a long time, like a dome suspended from the sky and runic and Cyrillic inscriptions on the parapets, where the Varangian guards of the emperor and Russian pilgrims bored side by side.
The main palace of the Ottoman Empire. A city in a city where about fifty thousand people lived and twenty-five generations of sultans were replaced. Part of the episodes of the series "The Magnificent Age" was filmed in the interiors of Topkapi. Today's palace is a complex of museums and panoramic views of the Bosphorus. Among other things, the palace serves as a reminder of the terrible cruelty to women: through a special trough, objectionable concubines were thrown straight into the Bosphorus in the same sack with a wild cat.
The largest mosque in Istanbul and a masterpiece of the architect Sinan. Sinan was obsessed with Hagia Sophia - he sat for hours in front of the temple and thought how to surpass him. This is how the Suleymaniye Mosque appeared - it repeats the outlines of Sofia, but the dome of the mosque is six meters higher than the Christian temple. Sinan thought over every detail - once an official complained to Sultan Suleiman, they say, your architect does nothing, sits in a mosque and smokes a hookah. The Sultan personally came to the mosque to punish the negligent architect. It turned out that Sinan was researching acoustics using a hookah and looking for a place for two hundred hollow bricks that would carry the voice of the imam.
The most richly decorated Byzantine church that has survived to this day - you need to go to it for the bright mosaics that cover the vaults of the church. When, after the capture of Constantinople, the Turks entered this temple to convert it into a mosque, they did not knock down the mosaics, but covered them with plaster. Thanks to this, the old decoration was restored, so now you can admire the festive palette of the Byzantine masters.
An ancient underground reservoir, a reserve in case of a siege. Three hundred columns were brought here from abandoned ancient temples, and the result is a marble forest that goes into the water. Twilight, fish wagging their tails in the water. The wooden walkways lead to the columns with the head of Medusa the Gorgon at the base. One head is turned down, the other is on its side. They say this was done by tourists from the past, so as not to accidentally meet the gaze of the terrible Medusa and turn into stone.
Fener and Balat
Old non-festive quarters of Istanbul.Drop by to see steep streets where kids play soccer, faded linens blown by the salty Bosphorus breeze, picturesquely ragged walls, crooked balconies, and colorful houses that carve through space like the prow of a ship. Fener is a once thriving Greek quarter, Balat is a Jewish one. Today the real life of Istanbul is in full swing here.
Catch it on Istiklal Boulevard to combine the past of Istanbul and the front facades in one shot. It is a pity that the sound of the tram, the aroma of fresh Semitic bagels and the cries of seagulls will not enter the frame. The more desperate take selfies on the footboard.
On the ground floor there are fish restaurants, on the second there are Istanbul fishermen, who hatch the panorama of Istanbul with fishing rods. Fishermen stand on the bridge in any weather, as calm as Istanbul cats. Small mackerel, sardines and other trifles - anchovy - are splashing in the buckets. You can admire the Galata Tower on one bank and the domes of the New Mosque on the other.
View from above
It was built by the Genoese as if in order to admire Istanbul even more conveniently. In addition to this good reason, the sailors were guided by the tower, and the sentinels guarded the peace of the Genoese colony. The tower also worked a little as a fire watchtower, an observatory and a place from which the brave Turks pushed off and flew over the Bosphorus on homemade wings - in the 7th, for a minute, century. Today, the tower can be reached by elevator and take some cool panoramic shots of Istanbul.
It is the tallest building in Istanbul with sixty four floors. There is a closed observation deck overlooking Europe and Asia at the same time. Bridges over the Bosphorus, high-rise buildings in business districts, minarets. For completeness, you can go on a 4D tour "Flight over Istanbul by helicopter".
Visit the hammam
For winter travel, this item is a must in order to expel the dampness of the Bosphorus from the bones. Go for a historic one - for example, the three-hundred-year-old Cagaloglu Hamami. In the middle of the hall there is a huge marble circle, where the attendants are brought back to life by the bathhouse attendants: they soap, massage, wash their hair like a mother. The Istanbul Dream package for 50 euros includes a ten-minute peeling with a special glove and twenty minutes of foam massage.
Watch the dance of the dervishes
Sufi monks of the Mevlevi order dance as if they were the last time - they whirl in white robes to achieve union with God. The right hand is raised up and receives the blessing of heaven, the left goes down and blesses the earth. Dance-meditation, mystical trance, when the dervishes think that the world revolves around them. The performance of the dancing dervishes can be seen in the hall of the cultural center of Khojapash - every day at seven in the evening the dervishes begin to spin, and the audience is fascinated to watch.
The legendary Istanbul sandwich with mackerel should be eaten at the Eminonu pier - the freshest fish is fried right on painted boats, put in a roll, and onions are added. You make your way between the barrels, where, it seems, half of Istanbul decided to eat balyk-ekmek. Find an empty barrel with a bottle of lemon juice and salt on it. You can sprinkle lemon juice on the fish and climb to the seventh gastronomic heaven without an elevator.
blogger, moved 7 years ago to Istanbul for work
To all the loud sights of Istanbul, I prefer the central residential quarters, where they do not strive to sell you carpet, gold or tickets to the dance of the dervishes. So I gently urge you to spend more time in the districts of Beyoglu and the less touristy Sultanahmet. A few favorite places in the area:
Drinking a cup of Turkish coffee is a must in a place with history. Cemil Filik opened this once tiny cafe for three tables in 1967. Then he brewed coffee for twelve hours, it turned out 300-400 cups. Residents of the city have a reverent love for this place, believing that the real Istanbul remained only in the alleys of Beyoglu.
The address: Asmalımescit Mahallesi, İstiklal Caddesi, Olivia Geçidi, 1 / A
You can combine shopping and visit a typical Istanbul apartment in the Cihangir quarter at number 11.Here is the Vintage Istanbul vintage jewelry and accessories store, which Ozge Tan Ozge finds all over the world. The experience of working in a well-known fashion publication did not pass without leaving a trace - the girl intuitively feels the beauty, which obviously complicates the task for her customers.
The address: Cihangir Mah. Batarya sok., 11, D: 2
In 1989, a Greek named Panayot Papadopulus came to Istanbul and opened the first wine house in the city. Guests came to the Pera region for a slice of Greece and the aromatic wines of the Aegean region. Currently, Pano has over 150 local and international wines on its wine list, and boiled potatoes and Easter eggs are still served on the cheese platter. What's the last story? Feel free to ask at the restaurant. Traditions are honored here.
The address: Hüseyinağa Mh., Hamalbaşı Cd, 12 / B Galatasaray, Beyoğlu
Photos: scaliger - stock.adobe.com, Santi Rodríguez - stock.adobe.com, Artur Bogacki - stock.adobe.com, Özgür Güvenç - stock.adobe.com, Anna Kucherova - stock.adobe.com