The Washington Post

Istanbul is the new cool!


With its millennia-spanning historical heritage, wide array of cultural offerings, mouth-watering cuisine and breathtaki­ng vistas, İstanbul is a destinatio­n guaranteed to inspire visitors from all walks of life. Take a closer look at the city where cultures and continents unite…

As one of the most vibrant locations in all of Europe, İstanbul is a pulsating cultural capital and creative centerpiec­e, drawing inspiratio­n from its thousands of years of tradition and grandeur. Undoubtedl­y, the best place to begin exploring this bustling treasure trove is the Historical Peninsula. Some of the city’s must- see landmarks are within walking distance — from the iconic domes of the Hagia Sophia to the grand minarets of the Sultanahme­t Mosque, also known as the Blue Mosque. Meanwhile, the former residence of the Ottoman sultans, Topkapı Palace, gives visitors the chance to discover the splendor of the empire’s court and the beauty of the harem, the sovereign’s private chambers. While the recently renovated İstanbul Archaeolog­ical Museums continue to pay tribute to the masters of antiquity, a five- minute stroll from these halls will take you deep undergroun­d to the 6th- century Basilica Cistern — a cavernous marvel that has welcomed several Hollywood blockbuste­rs, including “From Russia with Love” and “Inferno.” With recent art installati­ons adorning this hallowed site, the mysterious beauty of this watery subterrane­an setting is bound to leave a lasting impression on all who venture below.

Beyoğlu: At the Heart of the City’s Art Scene

Right across the Golden Horn waterway, one cannot fail to notice the imposing Galata Tower. Dating back to 1348, the tower stood as the tallest structure in the city for most of its history. In the Galata neighborho­od, you’ll be quickly absorbed into the buzz of the city’s contempora­ry life, with a wide array of design studios, art galleries, coffee houses and fine- dining restaurant­s, lining the surroundin­g cobbled streets.

On the far end of the pedestrian thoroughfa­re that is İstiklal Boulevard, Taksim Square is the city’s cultural heartbeat once again, thanks to the renovated Atatürk Kültür Merkezi ( AKM - Atatürk Cultural Center), a vanguard palace for the performanc­e arts. The center’s main Opera Hall, designed in the shape of a giant sparkling- red globe, welcomes a host of operas, symphonies and performing arts extravagan­zas.

Each year, the neighborho­od is also animated by the Beyoğlu Culture Route Festival, spreading over 80 important cultural heritage sites, including the İstanbul Cinema Museum, Emek Stage, St. Antuan Church, the Pera Museum and the Tophane- i Amire Arts & Culture Centre, as well as the city’s state- of- the- art cruise terminal, Galataport. Right next door, you’ll find the new home of İstanbul Modern, the city’s pioneering museum of contempora­ry art, which eagerly awaits the reopening of its gates in 2023. In the newly burgeoning neighborho­od of

Dolapdere, pioneering contempora­ry art galleries and museums like Arter have firmly establishe­d their new presence in modern structures as well.

Rami Library is yet another hidden gem of the city, on the other side of the Golden Horn. The former 18th- century Rami Barracks have reincarnat­ed as the city’s largest library — the first sustainabl­e library in the country— with millions of volumes for all ages and imaginatio­ns.

Neighborho­ods with Character

Every neighborho­od in İstanbul has its own distinct appeal, with Karaköy (Beyoğlu) and Moda (Kadıköy) spilling over with trendy bars, cafes and restaurant­s; Balat and Fener full of timeless charm; and Şişli and Nişantaşı offering a wealth of shopping opportunit­ies. Take a day to mosey off the tourist trail and explore the markets, vintage stores, antique shops, artisan studios and hyper-cool micro coffee roasters in these and other unique haunts. Many of the rustic former fishing villages lining the shores of the Bosphorus have since become hip neighborho­ods where İstanbul society comes to see and to be seen. Arnavutköy, Kuruçeşme and Bebek, famed for their sumptuous array of Ottoman-era seafront mansions, are now home to elegant cocktail bars and gastropubs and the people to match.

A Slice of Country Life in the Metropolis

İstanbul’s delights are far from limited to the banks of the Bosphorus. A pleasant ferry ride takes visitors to the Princes’ Islands — locally known as Adalar and long admired by residents as a wistful escape from city life. On a clear day, these nearby jewels in the Marmara Sea are visible from the city’s coast. The Adalar consist of a cluster of nine small islands that have been explored and enjoyed by a notable line of historical figures. Walk the cobbleston­e streets framed by historic mansions, many festooned with mimosas, bougainvil­lea and other colorful flowers. You can enjoy this proximal escape from the city’s hustle and bustle, indulging in the temptation of the plethora of family- run seafood restaurant­s and cafes lining the picturesqu­e waterfront­s. Don’t forget to take a bathing suit with you, as this is the best place to enjoy the Marmara Sea in all its glory!

 ?? ?? Galata Tower at night
Galata Tower at night
 ?? ?? Cycling in Princes’ Islands
Cycling in Princes’ Islands
 ?? ?? Turkish breakfast
Turkish breakfast
 ?? ?? Basilica Cistern
Basilica Cistern

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