The Turkish capital of Istanbul is the country’s historical and cultural heartland. The city, which lies on the border between Europe and Asia, has long been a passageway for travellers and this has not changed today. Istanbul is a dreamland filled with the scent of rich perfumes and ethnic spices, steeped in culture, history and heritage and so if you can find cheap apartments in Istanbul then it truly offers visitors the opportunity of a lifetime to experience the cultural fusion that happens where two continents meet. Here is a selection of some of the top places to visit when you get to Istanbul.
1. Haghia Sophia
The museum of Haghia Sophia is a must visit when in Istanbul. Housed in an orthodox church that later became a mosque, it is home to many priceless artefacts from the various Empires that ruled Istanbul over the centuries. Building started on the church in 532AD and the museum still houses original mosaics that were built at this time. The building itself is breathtaking to behold, even for people that aren’t interested in architecture, and the dome forms a key piece of the Istanbul skyline.
2. Basilica Cistern
This cistern was built in the 6th century and was used as a kind of underwater aqueduct to bring water to the city. Located 150m below the surface, the cistern is the largest of several hundred cisterns that were used to provide water to the people of Istanbul. It is also home to two famous carvings of the head of Medusa and is definitely worth a look, even if it is just to see for yourself how they managed to dig such a large cavern so many years ago!
3. The Grand Bazaar
A trip to Istanbul wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the incredible Grand Bazaar market. This place is every bargain hunter’s dream and, housed in an old mosque, is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. You can literally buy anything here, from “genuine” Prada bags, to furniture, spices and incredible pashmina scarves. Get your bartering boots on as vendors will try to rip you off; make sure you haggle and never pay over 60% of the original asking price. If this hasn’t convinced you, it was also featured in the latest James Bond movie, Skyfall… if it’s good enough for 007, it’s good enough for you!
4. The Blue Mosque
Sultan Ahmed Mosque, more commonly known as The Blue Mosque because of its blue interior, is an active mosque that is architecturally stunning. Built in the 1600s by Sultan Ahmed, the mosque faces toward Mecca and men and women are still separated here during prayer. Be sure to cover up when going to visit as visible skin is not permitted but donning an extra shirt is worth it for the amazing blue interior alone.
5. Galata Bridge
Chilling out under a bridge may not sound like an ideal (or safe) way to spend your time in Istanbul, but under Galata Bridge you’ll find a treasure trove of bars and cafes that offer unparalleled views of the seven hills of Istanbul. During the day, the bridge is home to many vendors hawking their wares but at night, strolling along it allows you to soak up the beautiful Turkish sunset – something that you can’t miss on your visit to the city.