Istanbul, Binbirdirek Mahallesi, Hotel Daphne, Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
This magical meeting place of East and West has more top-drawer attractions than it has minarets (and that's a lot).
İstanbul's strategic location has attracted many marauding armies over the centuries. The Greeks, Romans and Venetians took turns ruling before the Ottomans stormed into town and decided to stay – physical reminders of their various tenures are found across the city. The fact that the city straddles two continents wasn't its only drawcard – it was the final stage on the legendary Silk Road linking Asia with Europe, and many merchants who came here liked it so much that they, too, decided to stay. In so doing, they gave the city a cultural diversity that it retains to this day.
The conquering armies of ancient times tended to ransack the city rather than endow it with artistic treasures, but all that changed with the Byzantines, who adorned their churches and palaces with mosaics and frescoes. Miraculously, many of these remain. Their successors, the Ottomans, were quick to launch an ambitious building program and the magnificently decorated imperial mosques that resulted are architectural triumphs that together form one of the world's great skylines. In recent years, local banks and business dynasties have reprised the Ottomans' grand ambitions and endowed an impressive array of galleries, museums and festivals for all to enjoy.
Some ancient cities are the sum of their monuments, but İstanbul factors a lot more into the equation. Chief among its manifold attractions are the locals, who have an infectious love of life and generosity of spirit. This vibrant, inclusive and expanding community is full of people who work and party hard, treasure family and friendships, and have no problem melding tradition and modernity in their everyday lives. Joining them in their favourite haunts – çay bahçesis (tea gardens), kahvehans (coffeehouses), meyhanes (Turkish taverns) and kebapçıs (kebap restaurants) – will be a highlight of your visit.
If you are seeking an unparalleled variety of historical architecture, and a glimpse into a different culture, then the city of Istanbul in Turkey is the perfect destination. A visitor to this beautiful city might find it difficult to know where to begin exploring its many delights, as there is so much to see.
Many choose to start with the world-famous 17th century Blue Mosque, so called because of its covering of blue tiles. Of course, the mosque is a place of worship, so you will need to be aware of some important requirements, such as removing your shoes before entering, and dressing respectfully. Women must cover their hair, but head coverings are provided free. There is no charge to enter the mosque, but you are requested to behave thoughtfully, e.g. by avoiding flash photography and speaking quietly. Remember to avoid the five daily prayer times, as the mosque is closed during prayer.
Another famous historical building is the Hagia Sophia, which started life as an orthodox basilica, then became a mosque, and is now a museum. The architecture shows the influence of both the Byzantine and Ottoman eras, and it is famous for its mosaics, some of which date back to the 13th century. Other features include massive marble doors, the library of Mahmut I, and the 16th century marble jars, each fashioned from a single piece of marble.
No holiday here would be complete without a visit to the Topkapi Palace, which is the world’s oldest and largest surviving palace, and was the residence of the Ottoman sultans for 400 years, as well as an important administrative centre. Set high above the city, with panoramic views across the Bosphoros Strait, this imposing palace is surrounded by 5km of wall, and is a fine example of Turkish architecture. There is a wealth of features to explore here, including secluded courtyards, many different rooms, and the palace gates. You can visit the harem (once forbidden to outsiders), the kitchens and the council hall, as well as looking at the exhibitions which include the wonderful jewellery of the Treasury, displays of historical costumes and weapons, and a collection of clocks.
Of course, the city’s wonders are not limited to architecture. It is also home to the world-renowned Grand Bazaar, where you can spend an entire day exploring. The bazaar was established in the 15th century, and is one of the largest in the world. Here you can haggle for a huge variety of things, including fashion, jewellery, carpets, textiles, spices, antiques and Turkish ceramics, to name but a few. The bazaar also has two mosques, several fountains, and many places where you can eat or relax with a coffee.
There are many hotels in Istanbul to choose from, but naturally you will want to find a hotel which is centrally located, making your visits to the attractions easy.
With such a wealth of beautiful places to visit, it is easy to see why Istanbul in Turkey deserves its nickname ‘The City of the World’s Desire’.
The Hotel Daphne is a shining jewel, nestled in the heart of Istanbul. The name is taken from the Byzantine palace that once stood beside the Hippodrome. It is a charming property waiting to welcome you to Sultanahmet, only a few minutes stroll from the major historical cultural sites of Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Underground Cisterns and the Hippodrome (At Meydanı).
This Special class hotel combines traditional Turkish hospitality with attentive service and comforts, elegantly decorated with a warm ambiance. Complimentary wireless internet is available throughout the hotel.
At our ISTANBLUES terrace - bar restaurant you can enjoy the sea view and historical ambience.
In the evenings, the a la carte restaurant offers a delicious variety of Turkish cusine while you watch the moonlight over the sea.
Check in :
Check out : 11:00 AM
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