Usually, travelers, coming back from Istanbul, are so much impressed, that their stories concerning the trip, are like a mess. It is normal, my first story about Istanbul, when I visited it for the first time, was a mess as well :-). But now I am an experienced traveler, and I may say, I am an Istanbul born and bred :-).
After visiting it for more than 10 times, I can easily get from the Asian part of the city to the European one, and I know Sultanahmet and Laleli like the back of my hand. In general, I am flattering myself that I am an insider in Istanbul. That’s why I want to describe you my four favorite places in Istanbul. Are you ready? Let’s go!
I adore this mosque. Of course, I am not going to be converted to Islam :), but the Blue Mosque for me is one of the most important and fascinating places of the city. Many tourists prefer Hagia Sophia. I agree, that the Cathedral of Hagia Sophia is more monumental and awesome, but the fact is that I like light and open space. Only the Blue Mosque gives me it. How the architects have done it, remains a mystery for me :-). Of course, I advice you to visit Hagia Sophia. However, my tourist heart belongs to the Blue Mosque, with its marble fountains in the yard, pillowy carpets, and fascinating turquoise color of the interior.
The Golden Horn quay
Usually, the Turkish people speak about Bosporus. I admit that the strait is very beautiful, especially in the evening. Strange as it may seem, I like it in the foggy weather, when there are seen just some things: some lights of the city, splashes are heard, and water, being dark because of the night, only sometimes appears through the fog. But the Golden Horn is really beautiful, especially in the sunny weather, when the water seems to be golden (it is true!). I was lucky to stay at a hotel with the view of the Golden Horn, and it is very difficult to describe the beauty, I was looking at every morning. By the way, some words about practical aspects. If you are not lucky with hotel, beautiful places of Istanbul will not comfort you :-). As an experienced traveler, I advice you to use on-line booking systems. It helps to save time, and, the most important thing, your nerves. The are many systems, you may look for them in Google. As far as I am concerned, I remember the ‘turkeytps.com’ booking system. It was the case, when the system did not give rise to unfavorable criticism.
The castle is situated at a distance from Sultanahmet, and it may the reason, explaining why tourists seldom get here. It is in vain! The castle represents big towers and thick walls, and is located in the place, where Constantinople ends. It is worth going up the winding stairs in the gloomy towers in order to have a bird’s-eye view of the city and feel oneself a fearless Byzantine warrior. Of course, if this warrior is good for height :-). Local dungeons are impressive, and in the courtyard it is very pleasant to lie on the grass. There is a restaurant as well, but, as I understood, it is more frequently open for festive events, for example, weddings. I could not have dinner here.
Probably, you will be surprised by my advice, but I do not recommend you to buy anything here. It is a touristic place, and goods are overpriced. If you do not know how to bargain, you will never drive down the price. You can buy the same things, but 30-40% cheaper in many shops of Istanbul, which are like supermarkets, but smaller. However, it is WORTH going to the Grand Bazaar. It is a marvelous place for walk, sightseeing â€“ near it there are several beautiful mosques â€“ and familiarizing with the way of life in Istanbul.