Istanbul is a ‘must-see’ city so let us inspire you to go.
The village wing of Fethiye Times was in Istanbul for a wedding in mid-May and, having made the journey with four other British residents of Ovacik, we stayed on after the wedding to see some (very few) of the famous landmarks of this amazing city. So we thought we’d tell you about this trip and maybe inspire some of you to also visit.
We flew from Dalaman on Turkish Airlines, which isn’t cheap, but you can also take a sleeper train from Denizli or, if you really want to save money, catch an overnight bus.
Istanbul, formerly Constantinople and before that Byzantium, was the capital of Turkey until the Republic was founded in 1923. At that time Ataturk, intent on creating a new country from the remains of the Ottoman Empire, established a new capital in Ankara. Presumably he wanted to start from scratch, and so he chose a place geographically located in the centre of the country, and in the middle of the Anatolian (Asian) heartland. Eighty-five years later Ankara has a population of just over three million and is home to the parliament, embassies and several universities. Istanbul’s official population is around 13 million but unofficial figures put it as high as 17 – 20 million. It is still the country’s main centre for trade, business and the media and is increasingly recognised as one of the great cosmopolitan cities of the world.
Istanbul is a city surrounded by water. The Bosphorus divides Europe from Asia (it is the only city in the world which straddles two continents) and joins the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara. The Golden Horn divides the old city of Istanbul (home to the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace and the Grand Bazaar amongst countless other historical sites) from the ‘newer’ European area originally known as ‘Pera’. Though ‘newer’ is somewhat arbitrary as the Galata Tower, a very conspicuous landmark in this part of the city, dates back to 1340 whilst the Grand Bazaar was first established around 1460.
Istanbul has something for everyone. If you want to shop you can go from the Grand Bazaar (4000 shops, banks, restaurants, cafes and even a post office) to any one of around 45 modern shopping malls scattered around the city. These include the largest mall in Europe (the Cevahir Mall) – so you are never very far from M & S. If you enjoy historical sites, look no further. We’ll be writing about some of them here but, we feel bound to reveal, the village wing of Fethiye Times lived in the city from 1969 – 72 and, despite exploring the city on at least one day each weekend, there are still many places of historical interest she hasn’t managed to visit. It’s a treasure chest of history which we hope to tempt you into exploring ……………….. watch this space.