Thanks to its position between Europe and Asia, Turkey has enjoyed the influences of many different peoples, but thanks to this fusion a country has emerged that is rich both in history and character.
As a holiday destination, the country is ideal; it is just two hours ahead of the UK, so no debilitating jet lag and its capital, Istanbul, delivers summertime highs of 28°C – perfect!
As Turkey’s largest city, with a population of more than 12 million, Istanbul is the epicentre of the country in more ways than one. Boasting the largest companies and banks, hosting the head offices of Turkey’s advertising and media agencies – as well as providing a meeting point for art and culture that embraces opera, ballet, art exhibitions, theatres, concerts and festivals – it’s all going in in this vibrant city.
With an area of the city referred to as the “Peninsula of History”, it’s unsurprising that Istanbul is the perfect destination for history buffs. The Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman works found on this ‘peninsula’ are intermingled with stunning buildings including The Topkapı Palace, home of the Ottoman Sultans; the mosques of Süleymaniye and Sultanahmet, and – the epitome of Byzantine architecture – the Hagia Sophia or Ayasofya in Turkish, which has been an Orthodox patriarchal basilica, a mosque, and is now a museum.
Throughout Istanbul, past and present collide to delight both first-time and seasoned visitors. Palaces, mosques, churches and monuments compete with ultra-modern shopping centres to decorate the city, while ancient walls and ruins are juxtaposed against skyscrapers to form Istanbul’s distinctive landscape. For people-watchers and culture tourists, Go Turkey describes the capital as an “intricately woven carpet, a subtle blend of eastern and western cultures”.
The up-to-the-minute shopping centres and department stores are not the only attractions for those who love to spend some of their holiday splashing the cash on clothes, gifts, homeware and shiny things; Istanbul’s bazaars and street vendors offer a whole new range of products, not to mention a shopping experience, that just isn’t on offer in the UK.
For those dreaming of a shopping spree-filled vacation, fantasies of the very best accommodation are sure to follow. Istanbul is home to some fantastic hotels, and for its on-site heated infinity pool, spa, shopping arcade and hair salon, the Ciragan Palace Kempinski hotel is perfect.
For those who can bear to tear themselves away from the luxury of their Istanbul accommodation, the city’s night-life is a sight to behold. But why just watch? Take the locals’ lead and head to the super-stylish restaurants, bars and clubs.
For history, culture, elegance and luxury, Istanbul certainly earns its nickname as the ‘City of the World’s Desire’.
photo by rigoli on flickr