Istanbul City Guide
Reveling in breathtaking architecture, magnificent history, and energy unlike any other city, Istanbul, is truly the crossroads for East and West. Once the center of the world, it continues to play a huge role in international culture, commerce, and politics, and its expansive breadth is filled with enterprising new ventures as well as some of the most treasured historic sites of Europe and Asia.
Located on the banks of the Bosphorus strait before the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara, Istanbul rests on the northwest corner of Turkey and is the country's center of commerce and culture; it was formerly the seat of the Roman Empire and capital of Turkey until the end of the Ottoman era, when Ankara took the reins as administrative lead. Its long legacy as a significant settlement on the Silk Road, its ties to empire, and continuous influence have cultivated a rich and interesting city.
A bridge between two worlds
Walking along the wide thoroughfares, marketplaces, and myriad districts will reveal that this is a city that has seen history pass through from two very distinct parts of the globe. Perhaps the best example of this is the Hagia Sophia – once a basilica, then a mosque, and now a museum – which features some of the most impressive architectural aspects in the known world since its construction began all the way back in the 6th century.
Take a river cruise and let the splendor of the city enthrall you as you sail past landmarks such as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, the Dolmabahçe Palace, and the Topkapı Palace. With buildings and artifacts dating all the back through to the times of the Greeks and the Neolithic period, visitors can truly witness the unraveling of history in the place once known as Byzantium and Constantinople.
The Istanbul Archaeology Museums provide the ultimate experience in historical delights; founded in 1891 by Osman Hamdi Bey, it comprises some of Turkey's – and the world's – most treasured collections. The Pera Museum, Santral Istanbul, İstanbul Modern, and Sakıp Sabancı Museum are fairly new additions, and also worth a visit for catching a glimpse of some of Istanbul's magnificent contemporary and classic sights.
Equally spectacular are the modern districts such as Levent, the main economic sector. Showcasing the tallest skyscrapers in the city, it forms a startling contrast to the older landmarks and emphasizes Turkey's continued financial power.
Sports fans will want to pay a visit to the Atatürk Olympic Stadium, Türk Telekom Arena, Sinan Erdem Dome, and Ülker Sports Arena. All host major international sporting events, while venues such as Istanbul Park have hosted several world-class tournaments in the past, such as the Turkish Grand Prix and the F1 Powerboat World Championship.
Going to market
If Istanbul's impressive history is present in every street and corner, its exuberant markets are no exception. The Grand Bazaar remains one of the world's largest covered markets since its beginnings in 1461, and is the perfect place to experience the spirit of the Turkish market and practice your skills at haggling for that handmade hookah or beautiful rug. Mahmutpasha Bazaar (and open market) and the old Egyptian Bazaar (perfect for finding a great selection of spices) are also worth browsing, while the more modern centers such as Galleria Ataköy, Akmerkez, İstinye Park, and the Zorlu Center offer several brand names as well as entertainment venues.
Making the most of Turkish cuisine
The most quintessential aspects of the Turkish diet – delicious kebabs, Turkish Delight, and the excessively sweet baklava can be found virtually anywhere in the city. However, what Istanbul is truly renowned for is the succulent seafood dishes that grace its restaurants port-side and inland. Excellent fish restaurants can be found in the Arnavutköy, Ortaköy, Beylerbeyi, and Bebek neighborhoods, as well as Kumkapı along the Sea of Marmara, along with the Princes' Islands, which are a popular draw for tourists because of their opulent mansions and attractions as well as food.
Istanbul’s international flair means a huge selection of world cuisine as well. Kadıköy, Beyoğlu, Şişli, and the Beşiktaş districts are great places to find a foreign restaurant, as well as İstiklal Avenue, housing famous wine houses such as Çiçek Pasajı. Hookah bars are aplenty, serving tea, treats, and other delicacies, as well as flavored shisha.
With its lively markets and festive allure, nightlife makes the city indistinguishable from daytime. When the sun sets on Istanbul, its avenues continue to flow with an unquenchable spirit that endures until dawn. Club-scene hotspots include Beyoğlu, Ortaköy, Bebek, Nişantaşı, and Kadıköy.
Some men even travel to Istanbul for the ultimate in exotic destination bachelor parties.
There is something for every taste and style to experience in this vibrant city.
Home away from home
Whether you wish to greet your mornings with a spectacular view of the ancient world or the promising energy of the new one, or you desire a beachfront vista over a penthouse room in the heart of the shopping district, World Escape will find you a home away from home that matches your tastes and budget. Get in touch today!