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The President Hotel - Istanbul

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The ancient Hippodrome, the scene of chariot races and the center of Byzantine civic life, stood in the open space in front of the Blue Mosque, an area now called Sultanahmet. Of the monuments which once decorated it, only three remain: the Obelisk of Theodosius, the bronze Serpentine Column and the Column of Constantine. Remains from the curved-end section of the Hippodrome's wall can be seen on the southwest side of these three monuments. Today, the square forms the center of Istanbul's historical, cultural and tourism activities. You should take particular note of the surrounding wooden houses, particularly the l8th century ones on Sogukçesme Street. Delightfully restored, they have new life as small hotels and one houses a fascinating library of books on Istanbul.

The Ahmet III Fountain, built in 1729, stands at the entrance to Topkapı Palace. Deep overhanging eaves shade the water spouts where the parched could stop for a cup of refreshing water. This highly ornate, free-standing fountain is a superb example of the late Ottoman style.

Mahmut II built the Beyazıt Tower (85 meters high) in 1828 as a fire tower. Today it stands within the grounds of Istanbul University.

The Bozdoğan-Valens Aqueduct, built in 368 A.D., supplied the Byzantine and later the Ottoman palaces with water. Today part of the remaining 900 meters of double-tiered arches straddle the major highway that runs through the old part of town.

The Istanbul land walls, once an impenetrable fortification, stretch seven kilometers from the Sea of Marmara to the Golden Horn. Restored recently, and many times previously, these walls date from the fifth century and the reign of Emperor Theodosius II. UNESCO has declared the land walls and the area which they enclose to be one of the cultural heritages of the world.

The Galata Tower, a Genoese construction of 1348, rises 62 meters high over the Golden Horn. From the top, you see a marvelous panorama of the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus. In the evening, tourists enjoy its popular restaurant, nightclub and bar.

Rumeli Hisarı, or the European Fortress, was built by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1452 prior to his capture of Istanbul. Completed in only four months, it is one of the most beautiful works of military architecture in the world. (Open every day except Mondays.)

Leander's TowerKnown as Leander's Tower, Kız Kulesi is one of the romantic symbols of Istanbul. First constructed in the l2th century on a tiny island at the entrance to Istanbul's harbor, the present building dates from the l8th century.



Istanbul Boğazı (Bosphorus)

BosphorusA stay in Istanbul is not complete without the traditional and unforgettable boat excursion up the Bosphorus, the winding strait that separates Europe and Asia. Its shores offer a delightful mixture of past and present, grand splendor and simple beauty. Modern hotels stand next to yalı (shorefront wooden villas), marble palaces abut rustic stone fortresses, and elegant compounds neighbor small fishing villages. The best way to see the Bosphorus is to board one of the passenger boats that regularly zigzag along the shores. You embark in

Eminönü and stop alternately on the Asian and European sides of the strait. The round-trip excursion, at a very reasonable cost, takes about six hours. If you wish a private voyage, you can contact one of the agencies which specialize in organizing day or night mini-cruises.

During the journey, you pass in front of the magnificent Dolmabahçe Palace; farther along rise the green parks and imperial pavilions of Yıldız Palace. On the edge of this park, on the coast, stands Çırağan Palace ,now restored as a grand hotel. Refurbished in 1874 by Sultan Abdülaziz, it stretches for 300 meters along the Bosphorus shore, its ornate marble facades reflecting the swiftly moving water. In Ortaköy, the next stop, artists gather every Sunday to exhibit their works in a streetside gallery. The variety of people create a lively scene; sample a delicious bite from one of the street vendors. In Ortaköy, there is a church, mosque and a synagogue that have existed side by side for hundreds of years - a tribute to Turkish secularism and tolerance. Overshadowing Istanbul's traditional architecture is the Bosphorus Bridge, one of the world's largest suspension bridges linking Europe and Asia.

BosphorusThe beautiful Beylerbeyi Palace lies just past the bridge on the Asian side. Behind the palace rises Çamlıca Hill, the highest point of Istanbul. You can drive here to admire the magnificent panorama of Istanbul as well as the beautiful landscaped gardens. On the opposite shore, the wooden Ottoman villas of Arnavutköy contrast with the luxurious modern apartments of neighboring Bebek. A few kilometers farther out, facing each other across the straits like sentries guarding the city, stand the fortresses of Rumeli Hisarı and Anadolu Hisarı. The Göksu Palace, sometimes known as Küçüksu Palace graces the Asian shore, next to Anadolu Hisari. The second link between the two continents; the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge straddles the waterway just past the two fortresses.

From Duatepe Hill, on the European side, you can admire the magnificent panorama of the bridge and the Bosphorus. Below Duatepe, beautiful Emirgan Park bursts with color when the tulips bloom in spring. Opposite, on the Asian shore is Kanlıca, a fishing village now a favored suburb for wealthy Istanbulites. Crowds gather in the restaurants and cafes along its shores to sample its famous yogurt. Shortly after Kanlıca and Çubuklu is the Beykoz Korusu (Abraham Paşa Woods), a popular retreat. In the cafes and restaurants you can enjoy the delightful views and clear fresh air. On the European side, at Tarabya Bay, yachts seem to dance at their moorings. The coast road bustles with taverns and fish restaurants from Tarabya to the charming suburbs of Sarıyer and Büyükdere. Sarıyer has one of the largest fish markets in Istanbul and is also famous for its delicious varieties of milk puddings and börek (pastries). A little further on past Sarıyer, the narrow strait widens and disappears into the Black Sea.

Haliç - The Golden Horn

Haliç/Golden hornThis horn-shaped estuary, divides European Istanbul. One of the best natural harbors in the world, the Byzantine and Ottoman navies and commercial shipping interests were centered here. Today, lovely parks and promenades line the shores where the setting sun dyes the water a golden color. In Fener and Balat, neighbourhoods midway up the Golden Horn, whole streets of old wooden houses, churches, and synagogues date from Byzantine and Ottoman times. The Orthodox Patriarchy resides here at Fener. Eyüp, a little further up, reflects the Ottoman style of vermicular architecture.

Cemeteries sprinkled with dark cypress trees cover the hillsides. Many pilgrims come to the tomb of Eyüp in the hope that their prayers will be granted. The Pierre Loti Cafe, atop the hill overlooking the shrine is a wonderful place to enjoy the tranquility of the view.


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