The largest city in Turkey, Istanbul is the heart of the country. It is one of the largest cities in the world, with a population of almost 14 million. The Bosphorus runs right through Istanbul– it’s a strait that is a boundary between Europe and Asia – and thus Istanbul is the only city that is located on two continents. Istanbul is a major shipping lane for many countries, including Russia, and has been the crossroads of both trade and culture for millennia. Istanbul was the home of the Eastern Roman Emperors, the Byzantine Dynasty, and the Ottoman Sultans.Istanbul is composed of many areas. One of the most visited is Sultanahmet, which is where most of the historic sites are located, including Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar, Topkapi Palace, and the Basilica Cistern. This historic district is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The heart of the City is Beyoglu, which is a multicultural district that boasts beautiful architecture, the Golden Horn (the natural harbor), shopping, the arts, Galata Tower, Taksim Square, and great food (more on that in a bit).
- Watch these two (video one and video two) very different videos exploring Istanbul. Do you think each traveler makes their own experience? Does it seem like they were in the same city at all? Which kind of traveler are you?
- Do you love shopping? Read about Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, and then this article on how to haggle in the Bazaar. Have you ever been somewhere where you had to haggle over prices? How did it make you feel? Do you think that it is disrespectful of a haggling culture to NOT participate in this cultural tradition?
- Istanbul has 16 synagogues, 40 churches, and 3,028 mosques. Have you ever been to a mosque? Take a look at these beautiful photos from travelers to Suleymaniye Mosque and other various mosques in Istanbul. Reflect upon the importance of religion in both history and daily life. What surprises you most about this historic yet urban modern city?
- Ah, the food. Turkey is perhaps most famous for their incredibly delicious food. Peruse this articlefrom a foodie friend of mine – she travels JUST for food. Do you ever travel just for food? Many people travel to Turkey, just for food. This G+ community is all about Turkish food and recipes, and there are entire websites centered around Turkish food. What is your favorite food from Turkey? Do you have a recipe to share?