Tips for Your Perfect Trip to Istanbul
Turkey has been in the news a lot recently for its political and security issues, but in many respects that makes it the perfect time to visit. By nature the Turkish people are warm and welcoming, and with fewer visitors traveling to Istanbul at this time, you’ll experience their warmth and hospitality more than ever.
For a first time visitor to Istanbul, its organized chaos can seem overwhelming, but we at Osiris are here to help organize your perfect Turkey private tours.
Istanbul is literally teeming with exotic wonders, and is the quintessential example of where east meets west. Set either side of the Bosphorus Straights, it is the European gateway into Asia, and offers a delightful taste of both continents.
The Wonders of Istanbul on our Turkey Luxury Tours
The Sultan Ahmed Mosque
The early 17th century Sultan Ahmed Mosque, or so-called Blue Mosque, is one of only several mosques in the world with six minarets, and is an icon of Istanbul. Its beautifully curvaceous exterior boasts a cascade of domes, and is a photographer’s dream, especially seen from across the reflective pond nearby. Why is it called the Blue Mosque? Well, blue İznik tiles adorn the building’s interior, and in a certain light the exterior grey domes can also appear blue.
The Basilica Cistern: Posh Plumbing
Don’t be fooled by the name. Unexpectedly pretty and romantic, the Basilica Cistern offers a wonderful subterranean experience for visitors. Built in the sixth century, the cistern is now fitted out with lights and music, and supported by over three hundred columns, it is a unique experience. The upside-down head of Medusa is a fun addition.
Aya Sofya: Upscale Recycling
Emperor Justinian’s 6th century Byzantine masterpiece, the Aya Sofya, is a magnificent example of recycling. Once a church, then a mosque, and now a museum, it is, quite simply, breathtaking.
Upstairs, visitors can admire glittering mosaics while below, the recently opened tombs of several early Ottoman sultans and their slaughtered sons offer a more grisly cultural perspective. The sultans would kill anyone who represented a threat to their rule, so in obvious displays of mistrust, infanticide was a common occurrence.
Istanbul is home to dozens of classic bath-houses, but since 2011 it’s possible to try out the spectacular 16th century Ayasofya Hürrem Sultan Hamam. With its acres of marble, combined with the sound of running water and beautiful architecture, you’ll experience a massage fit for a sultan.
Topkapi Palace: The Fanciest of Harems
Home to generations of sultans and their wives, the Topkapi Palace is vast and majestic. Surrounded by a collection of lush green courtyards, the palace boasts a treasury to shame the Queen of England’s crown jewels, and not to mention the fantastic views over the Sea of Marmara and the Bosphorus Straights. The legendary harem is a maze of richly tiled rooms around a spectacular Turkish bath.
Istanbul has many exceptional museums, including the Architecture Museum and the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum.
A highlight of the Architecture Museum is the sarcophagus of Alexander The Great, which depicts the glory of his life in vivid 3D. While a model Trojan Horse will wow the kids, one of the city’s oldest Ottoman structures, the beautifully restored Tiled Pavilion, will wow the rest.
The Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum houses a wondrous collection of beautiful carpets from all over the country. There is also a fully-fitted nomad tent, and the grandiose interior of a 19th century Bursa mansion. Don’t leave without trying a thick black Traditional Turkish coffee in the cafe.
Visits to the Süleymaniye Mosque, the Chora Church and the Galata Tower, which offers an unforgettable bird’s-eye view over the entire city, will leave all visitors in awe of the many wonders of Istanbul.