Holidaying in Istanbul, ‘City of the World’s Desire’

Hagia Sophia Istanbul Turkey

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

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4 Responses to Holidaying in Istanbul, ‘City of the World’s Desire’

  1. Margyle October 2, 2012 at 4:48 pm #

    I’ve always liked the look of Istanbul… the buildings just blow my mind. And I think it has something to do with the whole historical switching back and forth and being pretty much the dividing point between east and west. Being a land of contrast like this makes me think it has a lot to offer travellers!

  2. Marco October 3, 2012 at 2:48 am #

    Sounds like Istanbul strikes the perfect balance between old and new and has something for everyone. Never been here before but it definitely sounds intriguing and a place worth visiting!

  3. Tom @ ActiveBackpacker October 9, 2012 at 11:07 am #

    Istanbul sounds so interesting, definitely deserves a spot in the old to-do list. Thanks for the round up :)

  4. Dana October 11, 2012 at 8:12 pm #

    I am currently in Istanbul and it has something for everyone, whether it’s beach, shopping, history or nightlife. The problem is that hardly anyone speaks English and you rare
    That you find anything written in English. Small correction to the post: the capital city of Turkey is Ankara despite Istanbul being a larger city.

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