Visiting Turkey is a delightful experience with exceptional sightseeing and much more, reports Farah Najam
Turkey is a unique republic located on the eastern end of the Mediterranean. The friendly, courteous Turkish people have been hosting visitors in one form or another for centuries. Driving is surprisingly safe, scenery ranges from dull to mind-boggling, beaches are fair, prices are low and shopping is excellent, especially leather ware in Istanbul.
“Go for the history, but stay for the food,” is often said of Turkey
The stylish eating-place at the garden level offers gourmet specialties dating back to the Ottoman age along with contemporary dishes.
Bosphorus Hotel Restaurant
It is converted into a fine restaurant, which was formerly a boathouse of a historical resident. The restaurant’s site is directly on the Bosphorus river.
Buzz Bar Restaurant
The breakfast, snacks, dessert and meals through the day are served in a shady vineyard garden. A selection of mezes is accompanied by a glass of Raki or “lion’s milk”.
Breads, pastries and pancakes
Among the simple pleasures in Turkish food are the Simit, a ring-shaped bread covered by sesame seeds. Gözleme, a kind of pancake, is often the basis for light dinners. Tea (çay) is the national drink. Turkish coffee, the Kahve is served in a small cup, optionally with a glass of cold water.
Variety of eateries
The Kebab is grilled meat. Then we have the Sis kebap and the Döner kebap (stacks of meat that are kept in a vertical stick, rotating to keep warm and roasting, are surface-cut to tiny flakes that fall into a piece of bread). Several types of cheese are eaten but the soft, slightly salty and whitish Tulum tops all. The Bklava, is a small rectangular pastry made of dozens of layers with either pistachio or walnut, imbibed in sugar syrup.
This mosque was built during the reign of Sultan Ahmet in the early 1600s. Even today it is the centre of religious demonstrations. As this mosque has numerous blue Iznik tiles in the interiors, which illuminate from the light of the two hundred and sixty windows, it was given the nickname of blue mosque. This is the only mosque in the world, which has six minarets.
Fatih Sultan Mehmet built this palace in the fifteenth century, and it served as an Ottoman residence from the 1500’s to the 1800’s. It is located at the junction of the Bosphorus,
Marmara Sea, and the Golden Horn. There are several gardens, courtyards and beautiful trees. Inside, you will find a display of oriental porcelain, crystal and silver, jewels and clothing worn during the Ottoman reign.
In recent years, it has been used as a guesthouse for visiting foreign dignitaries. The palace has a pool and fountain leading up to a magnificent staircase. Kiosks and pavilions are the decorations on the grounds. One of the highlights is the terraced garden of magnolias at the base of the Bosphorus Bridge.
It is located on the European shore of the Bosphorus and was built as a showplace by the Ottomans. One gets to see exquisite crystal items here, even a piano! This three-story building has two hundred and eighty five rooms, four large salons, six galleries and six bathrooms.
The purpose of the fortress was to block ships from going in and out of Istanbul.
Yerebatan Palace Inside the huge building, there is a few feet of water but wooden walkways have been built for visitors. The interior of the building has special dim lighting to create an eerie atmosphere.
Eyüp Sultan Mosque
Built by Mehmet the Conqueror, this is one of the most sacred places in the Islamic world. This mosque covers the tomb of Halid bin Zeyd Ebu Eyyûb (known as Eyüp Sultan) who was the standard bearer for the Prophet Mohammad (saw).
Yildiz Palace and Park
The Sultan’s carpentry workshop, Marangozhane, is now a museum where you can see some of his woodwork projects. The park is a popular spot for the locals who want to enjoy the gardens and get away from the bustle of the city.
The original church was named Church of St Saviour in Chora, which means the church in the countryside. Built in the 11th century, it was converted to a mosque in 1453. It is used as a museum now, containing the finest display of Byzantine mosaics in the city.
Turkish and Islamic Art Museum
It contains over forty thousand items and some date back to the 17th century. Included in the collection are textiles, metalwork, calligraphy and woodwork. The feature of this museum is the carpet display that has some exhibits dating back to the 13th century.
The museums were opened in 1891 in Turkey. Osman Hamdi Bey, a 19th century painter and archaeologist fought the government in order to stop the smuggling of antiques out of the country. There are over one million items in this large collection of artifacts from Egypt, Mesopotamia, Lebanon, and Turkey.
Furthermore, there is a diversity of things to do ranging from water sports to mountain trekking, archaeology to river rafting. Whether you leave Turkey with magnificent gifts or an appreciation of its history, you are likely to want to go back for more.
The Grand Bazaar consists of 4,000 shops on a series of covered streets leading to a central avenue. The oldest sections are the Sandal Bedesten (cloth auction) and Cevahir Bedesten (jewellery market). The streets are named according to the trades, such as gold and silver sellers, carpet sellers, slipper sellers, boot sellers, booksellers, purse makers, etc.
Altamira is a bit of an Aladdin’s cave of a place; furniture, bric-a-brac, ornaments, clocks, it is all here. Fascinating bits and pieces are crammed into the little 2-storey shop.