If you're planning to book a hotel near the Blue Mosque in the heart of old Istanbul you won't want to miss seeing one of the city's two most beautiful religious buildings.
Hotels near the Blue Mosque
The Blue Mosque lies across a small park from the Aya Sofia mosque. But did you know that the 17th-century building is one of only a handful of mosques in the world to feature six minarets? The mosque houses the tomb of Sultan Ahmet I who commissioned it. To see it as it was intended to be seen enter by the side off the Hippodrome. Its courtyard is the biggest of all the Ottoman mosques.
Arts and culture
Cultural highlights include a visit to the Istanbul Archaeology Museums, three buildings which showcase archaeological and artistic treasures from the Topkapi collections. Don't miss the sarcophagi from the Royal Necropolis of Sidon. And get right up to date at the Istanbul Modern on the shores of the Bosphorus which has an extensive collection of Turkish 20th-century paintings.
Catch some traditional Turkish music at Kallavi Meyhanesi. A meyhane is a bar or restaurant with strong links to live music. Singing and dancing form part of a night out for Turks, and at this venue several musicians warm up the diners with a singalong which soon gives way to dancing.
Things to see and do
A visit to Topkapi Palace is a must-see on any visit to Istanbul. This sumptuous complex was the home of the rulers of the Ottoman empire for around 400 years. At its peak it was home to as many as 4,000 people. Today it is a museum, home to countless treasures including the Topkapi Dagger, Spoonmaker's Diamond, the fourth largest in the world, and the cloak of the prophet Muhammad.
Explore the complex which offers stunning views across the Bosphorus with its palace kitchens, royal audience chamber, harem, royal treasury and courtyard of the eunuchs.
Tour the walls of Constantinople which has encircled and protected the city since Roman times. Take a ferry boat down the Bosphorus and take in the views from the 14th-century Galata Tower.
Eating and drinking
Sample Turkish street food such as Simit, freshly baked dough, dipped in molasses and covered in sesame seed – a breakfast staple and irresistible. Or try Tantuni – beef, tomatoes, peppers and spices wrapped in a thin tortilla – and don't miss out on dessert – baklava, deliciously sweet. For some of the best that Istanbul has to offer head to Develi Baklava restaurant at Hasircilar Cadessi.
One of the best nightspots in Istanbul is Dogstarz which has DJs and local bands on the first two floors, but the cognoscenti head to the rooftop bar. Listen to Dubstep and watch the sun come up.
Also worth checking out is the Harbiye Amphitheatre, home of the Istanbul Jazz festival for many years, which has hosted acts such as Bjork, Bryan Ferry and Buena Vista Social Club.
Anyone wanting to shop is directed to the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world with over 3,000 shops. Be prepared to haggle.
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