From grand capital of empires to vibrant metropolis, have passed centuries but Istanbul remains faithful to itself, an age-old cultural crossroads where a new generation of entrepreneurs and patrons donated new blood making the city a bustling center of taste and trends.
Start your day in Sultanamet, where you will find some of the most famous buildings of the city such as the Hagia Sophia, nose up to admire the cupola and the extraordinary mosaics, and the Blue Mosque, with a thousands of ceramic tiles that adorn the dome and the walls. Braving the lines, are certainly worth a visit the Topkapi Palace, the Basilica Cistern and the Galata Tower.
Before leaving the old part of the town, get lost in the legendary Grand Bazaar, the largest and oldest covered market in the world, impossible to get out empty-handed while if you love spices or culinary delights you cannot miss the Egyptian market, a veritable kaleidoscope of colors, flavors and aromas.
Once you cross the Galata Bridge, walking through the district of Beyoğlu, the core of the new city, you can experience the local urban turmoil with a succession of boutiques, cafes and art galleries. As soon as you start to feel hungry succumb to the many local delicacies offered by street vendors and refresh yourself with a pomegranate juice; once you have regained energies the options are many, a visit to the Asian side of the city, a walk along the Bosphorus in Ortakoy or in the eccentric Çukurcuma, in any case, remember these 3 names for a little high-quality shopping: the Midnight Express concept store, the now legendary A La Turca and the vintage sought after by Leyla Seyhanli.
When sun goes down climb to the top to enjoy the stunning view, up to you the difficult choice between the best terraces for an unforgettable dinner or drink: Mama Shelter, 360 Istanbul and Ulus 29.
A trip to Istanbul would be complete without trying the Hamam ritual for a traditional experience, while to enjoy an architectural beauty the right place is the Çemberlitaş Hamam. For the most refined palates and less hardliner there is the Spa at Four Season Bosphorus and since you’re in the area, it’s worth moving on to the boutique Lokum Istanbul (lokumistanbul.com), where you will find the Turkish sweets of the same name and a nice selection of fragrances and candles, ideal for local souvenirs but super refined.
Text and photos by Elena Bottai