İstanbul: Heir to Empires
A gastronomic experiences, and breath-taking vistas of a constantly buzzing city. glamorous cultural scene, an elegant historical heritage, refined The city where continents meet is ready to greet you with its matchless beauty, flawless services, and unique tailor-made experiences. İstanbul knows how to inspire you.
İstanbul, the ancient capital of Eastern Roman and the Ottoman Empire, knows how to combine its contemporary culture with ancient traditions. As one of the most happening cities in Europe, the city has a lot to offer – revived art scene, cutting-edge contemporary designers, high-end fashion shows, glittering gastronomic scenery, notable music events, and much more. İstanbul is a fashion-savvy cultural hot-spot that relies on an enriching heritage of thousands of years and knows how to provide exclusive experiences.
Charming Accommodation Options
In İstanbul, spectacular accommodation alternatives can cater to all tastes. You may opt for a formerly Ottoman-era distillery, a 19th-century apartment building in the city’s old European quarter, a late-Ottoman-era prison at the very heart of the Historical Peninsula, a former summer retreat of an Ottoman governor hugging the waterfront on the European side of the historic Bosphorus Strait, century-old hotels built to accommodate travellers arriving on the Orient Express train from Paris, or a modern, bold structure with audacious architecture within an upmarket shopping centre.
All these superb options are complemented by the world-famous, traditional Turkish hospitality to embellish your stay. Then, all you have to do is to choose the experiences that will accompany your visit.
A Thriving Scene of Art, Design, and Culture
İstanbul is home to talented up-and-coming designers and artists. Contemporary designers’ works showcase astonishing artistic components inspired by the heritage of the city as well as the marrying together of Asia and Europe.
The city knows how to satisfy all needs and expectations. In addition to classical prime museums like Topkapı, Dolmabahçe, Archaeology museums, etc., some new-age museums have started popping up in the city. Amongst these, Masumiyet Müzesi (the Museum of Innocence) provides the chance to discover the life of an İstanbulite in the mid to late century.
Here, fashion has no limits. You may book a private tour for designer shop hopping or even have a private fashion show in a special venue.
İstanbul’s fabulous year-round calendar of events and festivals is full of films, music, jazz, and dance performances. Events range from orchestral recitals in thousands-year-old cathedrals to “boutique” concerts in the gardens of Bosphorus mansions.
The prestigious İstanbul Biennial is a breathing space for artists and art enthusiasts and gathers thousands of spectators at different spots in the city. Every year, art aficionados and professionals meet also at Contemporary İstanbul, the famous artistic event in the city. Art galleries and art centres around cheerful and lively neighbourhoods like Nişantaşı and Karaköy launch side events and exhibitions for art lovers. Make an appointment with an art dealer or art critic to discover the city’s promising art scene.
İstanbul is filled with an allure that has been inspired for centuries. Surrounded by the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus Strait and the Black Sea, the city has a particular relation with water, and it is an important source of inspiration for artists and an irreplaceable component of the urban texture. Every day millions of inhabitants take ferries to cross to sea, and water taxis on the Bosphorus are one of the most attractive ways to get around the city –avoiding traffic jams!
A Pampering Break
The city’s relation with water surpasses the seas to reach the bath! Scattered throughout the city, historical hammam buildings have a particular architecture. The hammam (Turkish bath), the ancestor of the spa break, provides a unique oriental spa experience. As a thousand-year-old purification ritual, this gender-separated relaxation break in the mystical atmosphere of a bath is a traditional way to get yourself squeaky clean and a natural tonic to the stress of modern life.
Take a seat on the marble, and slab pour water over yourself with a gold or silver-plated bowl. Then lie on the warm marble bed in the middle and surrender to the knowledgeable hands of the tellak or natır, who would rub your body with a coarse bath glove for a healthy peeling, the soap you down, and then offer you a silky massage for perfect relaxation. If you feel like it, you may want to test the acoustics of the place by singing a good song! At the end of the ritual, enjoy an ice-cold beverage in one of the specially designed shared spaces.
For those who are interested in traditional arts and crafts, an ebru –Turkish paper marbling– workshop is an incredible experience. A UNESCO-listed art, Turkish marbling has unique techniques that date back to Seljuk and Ottoman times. While you admire the dance of colours on water, local artists transform colour pigments, oily water and paper into a memorizing artwork. Then take a walk on cobblestoned streets to discover artisanal shops, cafés and restaurants and again fall in love with the dynamism of life.
A Shopper’s Paradise
From traditional treasure hunters to fashionistas, the city is a paradise for every shopper. İstanbul offers a wide variety of shopping opportunities to travellers – covered bazaars, beautiful markets, workshops that continue ancient craft traditions, shopping malls with all major local and international brands, and department stores.
The sine qua non of a shopping adventure in İstanbul is the Grand Bazaar and its frenetic opulence. The shops in the bazaar present a collection of different tastes, smells, voices, and textures –hammam supplies, ceramics and glassware, carpets and rugs, lamps and lights, copper work, antique jewellery, leather goods and silk garments, and all kinds of wearables. Here, you can find the finest quality of hand-woven Anatolian rugs and flat-woven kilims highlighted by well-aged natural dyes.
Also, cast an eye on the jewellery stores –the bazaar has been the very centre of Turkish jewellery tradition, and you might find unique creations that showcase the combination of the city's legacy of impeccable craftsmanship with new and alluring contemporary designs. Stop by one of the traditional coffee shops to have a cup of Turkish coffee or tea to feel the dynamism and admire the daily rush of the bazaar. Then you may visit the dazzling Spice Bazaar (Egyptian Bazaar) to admire the iridescent colours and divine scents of thousands of spices and dried fruits.
Sandwiched between Galatasaray and Cihangir neighbourhoods, the small yet one-of-a-kind quarter of Çukurcuma hosts around 150 antique shops and offers a unique experience for treasure hunters. Actually, a well-known centre by antique devotees, the neighbourhood is a gem, especially if you are into vintage toys, Ottoman-style jewellery and accessories. Whether you are an avid collector or seeking an heirloom piece for the future, you might find what you are looking for –be it the 19th-century vase you've been dreaming of or a unique piece for your doll collection.
As for modern shopping, İstanbul has a valid reputation for contemporary lavish shopping malls that offer countless products, including luxury brands in many sectors varying from upscale clothing to jewellery. You might prefer to attend a private shopping tour of the most prestigious brands to find high-quality, hand-picked selections. Also, home to some distinguished restaurants and cafés, these shopping malls offer surprising dining options.
Dining on the Bosphorus
With the Black Sea in the north, the Marmara Sea in the south and the İstanbul Strait running in all its glory through the middle of the city, İstanbul offers its visitors the privilege of enjoying an intimate, exclusive and luxurious adventure.
İstanbul’s cuisine, while representing traditional Turkish and Mediterranean characteristics, is also beginning to show fusion and progression.
In top-notch restaurants serving century-old classics, you may taste recipes from Ottoman cookbooks like baked aubergine with grilled mincemeat, tomatoes, and green peppers or spring chicken stewed with almonds, dried apricots, and red grapes, seasoned with honey, cinnamon, and lemon juice.
As for modern Western Turkish cuisine, the recipes are largely based on olive oil and fresh ingredients instead of heavy spices. So, the culinary tradition of İstanbul incorporates a huge range of vegetable dishes known as zeytinyağlı yemekler – dishes cooked in olive oil and fresh fish and seafood. Gastronomic restaurants that combine Turkish traditions with international cuisine offer tasting menus paired with wonderful Turkish wines.
That said, the best culinary adventure would be on the Bosphorus. Imagine that a private boat picks you up and offers pre-dinner drinks on the way over to dinner; you watch the hues of sunset and admire the sea, the beautiful mansions, and the edifices of both continents. Take a deep breath and enjoy the heavenly atmosphere of the Bosphorus. Join us in İstanbul for the most luxurious holidays!