Top Romantic Spots in and Around Istanbul

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Summer, winter, spring or autumn, Istanbul is beautiful year-round whether it’s under a blazing sun or three meters of snow. So, when love is on the mind this Valentine’s Day, do not be surprised when the city manages to exude more charm than usual. The otherwise grey February streets of Istanbul suddenly become a foggy reminder of romantic pasts. The rushing feeling of people hurrying along Istiklal Street seems tenderer; couples huddle together, bundled shoulder-to-shoulder. While beautiful, the city is just the beginning for any romantic.

Whether you are just visiting Istanbul or you are a permanent resident, consider yourself lucky to be windswept in one of the most enchanting cities in the world – if you know where to go.

4 Hiking Trails Near Istanbul

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Geographically, Istanbul is a very unique city. It’s divided by a natural strait, the Bosphorus, it also borders two different seas, the Marmara Sea and the Black Sea, and its land connects two different continents, Europe and Asia. And, with a population of approximately 20 million, Istanbul is one of the most populated cities. Thus, it can be challenging to live in Istanbul and be closer to nature. Indeed, the spaces for long trekking and hiking routes are limited. In this post we’ll introduce you to four hiking trails near Istanbul. They are no more than two hours away by car and perfect for a real hiking experience.

Grand Admiral Mosques in Istanbul built by Mimar Sinan

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Mimar Sinan (1489-1588) -without doubt- was the most important Ottoman architect. In the sixteenth century he built or supervised hundreds of structures in every corner of the Ottoman Empire including mosque complexes, hamams (Turkish bath), bridges, hospitals, madrasas (religious high school), tombs, and many others. Patrons of these structures were either imperial family members or high-ranking officials such as Grand Vizier, Harem Agha, Shaykh al-Islam (Sunni Islam Religious Leader), and Kaptan-ı Derya (Grand Admiral). Among Sinan’s works in Istanbul, there are two mosque complexes (külliye) commissioned by two different Kaptan-ı Derya (Grand Admiral): Sinan Paşa Mosque and Kılıç Ali Paşa Mosque.

Summer Palace of the Byzantine Emperors: Boukoleon Palace

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Boukoleon Palace (Bucoleon Palace) was the summer palace of the Byzantine emperors, which was built along the shores of the Marmara Sea in the south of the Great Palace of Constantinople. It is very probable that it was built during the reign of Emperor Theodosius II (r. 408 – 450 AD) in the 5th century AD and its monumental façade still stands for more than fifteen centuries.

Istanbul Fish and Their Seasons

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Fishing season is -finally- open in Istanbul as of today, September 1st. As a city surrounded by two seas (Black Sea on the north and Marmara Sea on the south) and one strait (Bosphorus) connecting these two seas, Istanbul is rich in terms of fish and seafood. In addition, starting from Ancient Greek period to today Istanbul has a rich and serious history of fishing and fish consumption. For instance, Byzantion -Ancient Greek colony founded in the seventh century BC on the lands that later became Constantinople, and then Istanbul- was a fishermen village and main income of Byzantion was fish and other sea food. Moreoever, we know from primary sources that during the Middle Ages main nutrition of Istanbulites was fish.

Center of Byzantine Istanbul: Hippodrome of Constantinople

Onufrio Panavinio's drawing of the Hippodrome of Constantinople (c. 1600)

Hippodrome of Constantinople was built for chariot racing, which was the most important sports of the Byzantines. Nevertheless, it was more than a place for chariot races and other sports activities. Located in Sultanahmet/Istanbul, the hippodrome was also home to gladiatorial games, official ceremonies, celebrations, protests, torture to the convicts and so on. The word “hippodrome” comes from the Greek hippos (horse) and dromos (way). Hippodrome functioned all in Roman (203-330 CE), Byzantine (330-1453 CE), and Ottoman (1453-1922) periods.

Is Istanbul safe for tourists? Should we refrain from travelling?

Is Istanbul Safe

On the evening of June 28th, Istanbul’s main airport (Atatürk International Airport) was hit by a suicide bombing attack which resulted in – official numbers – 41 dead and 239 injuries. This has been a real tragedy for our country. As Istanbul Tour Studio, we would like to extend our deepest condolences for the victims and their families. In the past few months, the world has witnessed such terror attacks more than ever and we stand together with our friends in Paris, Ivory Coast, Brussels, Beirut and Orlando. As terror globally targets our livelihood and every day life, we all ask similar questions: where is safe nowadays? Should we refrain from travelling?

Throwback Turkish Songs #5 | Erkin Koray & Yeraltı Dörtlüsü – Sana Bir Şeyler Olmuş (1969)

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“Sana Bir Şeyler Olmuş” (Something Has Happened to You) is the cover of Chris Kenner’s “Land of a Thousand Dances” released in 1963 and it is the first live performance of Erkin Koray, broadcasted live at the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) national public broadcaster of Turkey founded in 1960s. Enjoy Erkin Koray’s one of the earliest songs “Sana Bir Şeyler Olmuş” released in 1969.