If you’ve had a chance to visit one of the local cinemas recently, you were able to enjoy scenes of Istanbul (or, Constantinople, back in the day) in the remake of the Murder on the Orient Express. And what scenes they were, magical, just as magical as this magnificent city itself.Constantine the Great founded the city in 324 AD, as the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. The city withstood numerous attempts of invasion and in 1453 became a part of the Ottoman Empire. Built in a place where East meets West, Istanbul got the best of both. It has an extraordinary cultural heritage shaped by four strong civilisations.
Today, almost 15 million people live in this metropolis. Old and new, European and Oriental meet and intertwine here like nowhere else in the world. The pearl of Bosphorus joins Europe and Asia. Thanks to its geographical location, the city was destined to become a metropolis and be the most desired target of numerous conquerors.
Istanbul, actually, is three cities in one. In addition to the Asian part, the European part is split into old and new parts, separated by the Golden Horn bay and linked by the Galata bridge. A tower of the same name, a guardian of history, dominates the city as one of the most recognizable landmarks. The old part of town, with its oriental domes and turrets that can be seen from afar, narrow setted streets and old wooden houses, stands a proud opposite to the modern part of town which will charm you in a completely different way, with its architecture, numerous clubs, malls, corporate buildings.
What is certain is that you will be able to enjoy extraordinary gastronomic pleasures, whatever part of town you find yourself in.
Istanbul is a true archaeological treasure vault. Take as many free days as you can for your visit and, believe us, you will still be at least one day short. This makes it a city you can always return to. Three major airlines fly to Istanbul from Belgrade airport: Turkish Airlines, Pegasus and, since recently, AtlaGlobal. The flight is about an hour and a half. When you beat the city rush hour, pick a part of town to explore. The famous Hagia Sophia, witness of all empires, is the ultimate piece of Byzantine architecture, built as a church, only to be transformed first into a mosque and then into a museum.
As you cross the square, you run into Basilica Cistern, the largest of several hundred such buildings in the city. Cistern was erected in sixteenth century, during the rule of Justinian the First. Another interesting film was shot right here, from the famous James Bond series – From Russia with Love.
The square between this part of town and the Blue Mosque is the Constantinople or Constantine’s horse racecourse, former horse racecourse and the cultural centre of Constantinople. It was built by Constantine I the Great, at the location of an older horse racecourse from the time of Septimius Severus.
The Blue Mosque, with its six minarets and 20,000 blue tiles is unique in this city and in the country. The Süleymaniye Mosque and many other smaller mosques are in close proximity as well, but we will let you discover them as you explore the city. Another important landmark to mention is the Great Bazaar, the epicentre of commerce, built in 15th century and representing the oldest roofed market in the world.
The widely known Chora church and the Museum of Kariye, enchanting with the beauty of its mosaics, is also located in this part of town. In another part of town stands the Galata Tower, the Tower of Genova, landmark of Beyoglu district with its famous street Istiklal, with many a modern shop.
Two of Sultan’s palaces, Topkapi and Dolmabahce, dominate the view over the Golden Horn and Bosphorus. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the contemporary Turkish state, lived and died in the Dolmabahce palace. As you walk down the coast, looking at the Bosphorus bridge, you will come to the beautiful Mosque at Ortakoy. Stop, take a deep breath and enjoy your surroundings, enchanted by the typical smells of this beautiful city because, without a doubt, Istanbul is one of the most intriguing metropolises in the world.
Obilićev venac 21,
By: Aleksandra Beko i Slavka Ivanović