he strait lying between the two continents is called "The Bosphorus" meaning "The Strait of the Cow" in Ancient Greek. According to the myth, God of the Gods Zeus was married to Goddess Hera. However Zeus was not satisfied with only one woman, by using his attraction and skills, he was having affairs with different women. Io was one of them. Once jealous Hera realized the affair between Io and Zeus, she turned Io into a cow. She ordered a bee to chase Io. Io was in pain ,she started to run like crazy and the way she ran along became today's Bosphorus... Istanbul
Fatih Sultan Mehmed Bridge:It takes its name from the sultan called "Mehmed (the Conqueror)" who conquered Istanbul (Constantinople) in 1453 from the Byzantine Empire... This bridge was constructed in 1988.
In the 2C AD, Byzantium was swept up once again by civil war between the Emperor Septimus Severus and his rival Percennus Niger.After he defeated Niger, he took over and had the city walls constucted. The walls begin at Golden Horn lying to Galata Bridge and end at the lighthouse standing on the coastal road to the airport today. He enlarged the city twice as it was.
In the year 532, Justinian was overthrown by a revolt in the ancient Hippodrome, called "Nika Revolt" which caused many buldings to collapse and badly damaged including the splendid Haghia Sophia. He ordered a big and beautiful Greek Orthodox Church to be constructed as well as the city to be restored. During his reign, Constantinople was one of the biggest cities in the world..
The history of the Byzantium may last pages and pages. The history until today is going to be summarized by the author so that it becomes clearer to understand and associate with today's remainings.
Even though, no one could consider that such a big empire can collapse, that eventually happened. There are various reasons for that. Firstly, there were internal reasons. These were the fightings between the high ranking officials or for the throne, that is the conspiracy theories to mix the agenda and have superiority over one another. Secondly, there were external reasons. As the empired began loosing its territories in the West, it continously started to defend its borders, so a passage from offensive to defensive position... It was an empire based on lies, conspiracy
After Latin Invasions and continuing internal problems, the Empire could not realize the small Turkish Principality which was located in the Southern East of Constantinople, on the other end of Marmara Gulf, so-called the "Ottomans". They were founded in 1299 in a small city Bursa, Sogut and their founder was Osman Bey. His son Orhan Bey enlarged the Principality and his son Murad, went on conquests in Europe, fought the War of Varna. Afterwards Bayezid the Thunder fought many wars and continued to knock the door of Europe. Finally in 1453, 21-year-old Mehmed II(the Conqueror),after years of preparation period, succeeded to conquer the city and the first thing he did was converting Haghia Sophia to a mosque and pray God and prophet Muhammed for his victory...
From then on, the name "Constantinople" was converted to "Istanbul" which is how it was called by the Ottomans. is the name of the city and became a Muslim city. The Ottoman Empire adopted the city as the major city and the center for the government. Mehmed the Conqueror also ordered the "Topkapi Palace"to be constructed and this palace constituted the heart of the whole Empire which lasted more than 600 years.
The Ottoman Empire reached its peak in the early 16C when they conquered Egypt and had the caliphacy pass over to the Ottomans. It meant that an Ottoman Sultan was to be the highest ranking religious person in the Muslim World. However,when the famous emperor, Suleiman the Magnificient, failed in the Battle of Vienna, he was gone into depression. He was a big leader and failure was not of his style. His dreams of conquering Vienna and becoming immortal could not come true and that was the beginning of the end...The splendid Mosque of Suleiman in Istanbul is from those days.
The Ottoman Empire went into a stagnation period in 1699, the Treaty of Karlowitz.. Prior to that time, the empire had continously enlarged its boundaries and was always offensive. This treaty meant that the empire can no way be offensive any longer...
That period was followed by a decline and end period. The Ottoman Empire became the "Sick Man of Europe" to be partitioned by the European Powers after the WW I. IN 1919, a young and talented soldier, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, came to the scene and Turkey started defending herself. He was also the commander of Gallipoli Campaign which was fought against ANZAC, British and French Troops in 1915. The Independence War was successfully won by the Turks and then came the revolutions in Alphabet, Dress, Meaurement Systems and abolishment of the Sultanate as well as Caliph System. Everything was replaced by its modern way which led the way to Modern Turkey. Ataturk died in Istanbul, Dolmabahce Palace; a rather modern palace dating back to 1856. He was born in 1881 in Thessaloniki, Greece and died in 1938. There were many more things to do when he left us...
Currently, Turkey is a Republic with a National Grand Assembly, a Constitution, flag and national anthem. It is a parliamentary system with 550 MPs, a president and a PM.
Transportation in Istanbul is not as convinient as it is in many big cities of the world. Because Istanbul is not surrounded by a good subway network. Instead of metro, other ways of transportation are used.
Bus: Public and private buses are very popular. Those buses operate frequently to different destinations in the city. The problem is that because of the busy traffic, the time tables do not reflect the actual situation. You may wait a bus for 15-20 or 30 minutes. The buses are of three kinds. The first one is the blue-green buses which are privately owned. You pay money to get on them. The fee is 1.3 YTL) which is approximately. equal to 0.80 EUR or 1 USD. Foreign currency is NOT accepted. You can read the name of the place you would like to go, on the sign on the side window in the front. There is a person who will be sitting in front of the bus and after you pay him, you receive your ticket. People usually do not speak English, so you would better learn your destination.
Example:TAKSIM 30B BESIKTAS. 30B is the route number. TAKSIM and BESIKTAS are popular areas.
Second type of buses are the municipal buses which you can see lots of ads on them or regular ones in blue-green or blue- red. For these buses, you can either buy a ticket before you get into the bus or you can pay the fee to the driver. Close to the bus stops, you can come across small ticket offices called "GISE" in Turkish. Sometimes you can find tickets in little corner convinience shops. A ticket costs 1.3 YTL) You can see people using a ringing object as ticket. This is called "Akbil" which means Smart-ticket. It's like phone-cards, you accumulate them in the smart- ticket offices in return for a certain amount and you just touch it to the electronic device set on the bus. The amount is automatically taken out from your account like Electron Bank cards.This is not profitable for short-time visitors because you also pay for the empty device. This buses usually don't have air-con and are very crowded. There are plenty of seats as well as plenty of room to stand in the bus. You can read the destination of the bus on its front and side window.
There's the last type of buses which are double-deckers. They operate for longer distances and are more convinient. You give double tickets for them. If they are green buses, you can also pay cash instead of tickets. Don't worry, they will warn you.....
There are municipal buses which cross the bridge and go to the Asian side. If you plan to go to the Asian Side, you also use double tickets or double fee. I recommend you to try the ferries instead.
Ferry: The ferries in Istanbul operate from different points in Istanbul including Eminonu, Besiktas, Karakoy in European Side to Kadikoy, Bostanci, Uskudar and Bosphorus. If you like to see the Asian Side, you can simply take the ferry from Besiktas to Kadikoy every 30 minutes, 15 past and 15 to .It depends on where you plan to take the ferry. The ferries are also old but nice and convinient. The ferry operated by Dentur Avrasya has shuttle rings from Besiktas to Uskudar every 10 minutes. It costs 1 YTL. If you want to know about a Bosphorus Cruise, find the "Bosphorus Cruise" section. For further info, you can ask for a brochure from the ferry stations.
Minibus or Dolmush: Minibuses are small buses which do not have a specific time table. They begin operating at 6:00 in the morning and they finish very late at night about 1:00. . You pay cash to the driver and the fee changes depending on the line. The driver drives, changes your money, honks for new passengers and gives your change. He does four things together and you watch as if you are on the verge of having a heart-attack... It's still experience and quite a fun thing. You can stand in a minibus if no seats are left. When you want to get out, you simply yell as "Musait bir yerde lutfen" meaning "Drop me at a proper place please."
Dolmushes are slightly different. They usually operate between Besiktas and Harbiye, Besiktas and Taksim,Bostanci(Asia)and Taksim and Kadikoy(Asia)and Taksim . You cannot stand in a dolmush. Whenever it's full, it moves. Its fee is paid cash too. You can see the price written in front of the dolmush.. There are dolmushes which operate all night long, especially on the weekends
Tram: Trams are new and very convinient in the touristic areas. The destination writes in front of the tram and you also buy the ticket beforehand. There are ticket offices at the tram stops. It costs 1.3 YTL. You can simply buy your ticket and travel short distances in convinience. Some trams also go underground and some of them have air-cons.
Subway(metro): The "Istanbul Metro" was opened in 2001 and it is very convinient if you want to see the downtown and commercial centers. You can purchase the ticket upon entrance of the metro. It costs 1.3 YTL. It operates between Taksim and 4 Levent, 6 stations as Taksim - Osmanbey Sisli - Gayrettepe - Levent - 4 Levent.
Taxi: The taxi fee is determined by a taxi-meter. Its starting fee is 1.3 YTL between 6:00 a.m and 11:59 p.m. The night tariff starts from 2.0 YTL and 50% more expensive. There is usually no air-con in taxis. The taxi driver may probably not understand English, you'd better write your destination on a piece of paper or ask a Turkish person to write the necessary words for the cab driver. It's customary to round the meter amount as a tip. Be careful about your money calculation and seem as if you already know the route. The way from the airport to the city center takes about 20 minutes under normal traffic conditions, so arrange a transfer before you come, especially if you arrive at night. The driver may not understand you or he may not find your hotel. It's always more convinient to arrange an airport-hotel transfer in Istanbul.
Rent-a car or limousine service: Rent-a car is reasonable buy may ruin your trip. Istanbul has a big traffic problem so you can rent a car when you want to see neighboring towns etc. Limousine service is given by various travel agencies and Limo Services.
Turkish money currency unit is called YTL (New Turkish Lira).
As of January 2005, Turkish Lira omitted 6 zeros from the currency and the Lira will be called "Turkish New Lira". Therefore 20 million TL is 20 YTL(new lira)
1 YTL. in pink and blue color,roughly equal to 80 cents.
5 YTL.in yellow-beige note. Approximately equal to 3.85 USD .
10 YTL. in reddish color. Approximately equal to 8 USD
20 YTL in green color (20 YTL)
50 YTL looks like a 50 EURO, orange in color.
100 YTL is blue-dark blue color.
If you want to exchange your currency, there are little shops where you can change money.There is an electronic board where you can see the currencies and their TL.equivalent. Most of the shops, restaurants do accept foreign money, especially USD or EUR in Istanbul.
If you wonder about SHOPPING, you should know where the good place to buy things and most importantly, what to buy. Turkey is a good place for leather, jewellry and of course carpets. Turkish Carpets are world-famous and unique examples of art. Traditional nomadic Turkic life influenced the patterns and designs of the rugs. For small souvenirs, The GRAND BAZAAR can be considered as a heaven. Even if you do not have the intention to buy anything, it's a MUST place to be seen.
Turkish Cuisine is of a great variety, a mixture of western and eastern cuisines with the flavor of unique Ottoman Cuisine. It can simply be categorized as;
Hot appetizers(Ara sicak)
Main Course(Ana yemek)
Vegetables cooked in olive oil(Zeytinyagli)
Soups: To begin with, soups do come first. They are very important in Turkish Cuisine. The soups are usually made of chicken juice by adding different things,i.e tomatoes,lentil,rice,yoghurt, eggs and flour. The most famous soups of traditional Ottoman Cuisine are Dugun Corbasi(Wedding Day Soup), Iskembe Corbasi(Tripe Soup eaten with garlic juice and vinegar), Mercimek Corbasi(Red Lentil Soup) and Yayla Corbasi(Yoghurt and rice with dried mint). If the soups do not contain chicken or meat juice, they are deemed to be 'tasteless'...
Cold Appetizers: The cold appetizers are another unique part of the Turkish Cuisine. A good 'Meze Tabagi'(Meze Platter) usually contains Dolma(stuffed green pepper,tomatoes or leaves with rice and pinenuts), Beyaz Peynir(Turkish White Cottage Cow's Cheese), Barbunya(Red Beans cooked in olive oil), Humus(made of chickpeas), Cerkez Tavugu(Circassian Chicken, little chicken-breast pieces mixed with walnut, bread and spices), Haydari(very thick yoghurt mixed with garlic and mint), Ezme(red chilly pepper,tomato paste,mint and spices)and finally Yesil ve Siyah Zeytin(Green and Black Olives).
Hot Appetizers: The hot starters are usually pastries which are called as Boerek. Boereks are of various types; i.e pastry which is made of different, thin dough layers stuffed with ground meat or cheese,cooked in oven or pastry made of two thin dough layers with cheese or ground meat inside, fried in sunflower oil. With boreks, potato or cheese croquettes may be served. The most famous type of borek is called Su Boerek(Thin dough layers shock-boiled in water). Other hot appetizers are Patlican Kizartma (fried eggplants), Kabak Kizartma (fried zucchinis) and fried mussles or calamares.
Main Courses: The main courses usually include meat, mainly lamb and veal. Sometimes chicken is used for some recipies. The meat is accompanied with eggplants, zucchini or potatoes,either smashed or french-fried. The most famous main course is called Doner Kebab(similar to Gyro) and second famous is Shis-Kebab(small pieces of lamb or veal grilled). Other famous main courses are Hunkar Begendi(lamb served on eggplant pureé), Islim Kebab(lamb served in sliced eggplant), or Tandir(very soft lamb grilled) and Manti(Turkish Style Ravioli with garlic yoghurt and red-pepper butter sauce). With them, Ayran(Yoghurt mixed with water and salt) may be served..
Vegetables cooked in olive oil:Turkey is one of the biggest olive and olive oil producers of the world. Therefore, food cooked in olive oil is an indispensible part of our cuisine. The main olive oil dishes are Zeytinyagli Yesil Fasulye(String Beans in Olive Oil), Imam Bayildi(eggplant cut in from the middle, stuffed with onion and green pepper, served cold), Zeytinyagli Kuru Fasulye(Beans in olive oil), Zeytinyagli Enginar(Artichoke cooked with pieces of potatoes,carrots and peas).
Desserts:The desserts can be roughly divided into three,desserts made of milk, desserts made of pastry+syrups, desserts made of fruits and nuts...
Milky Desserts:The famous ones are Tavukgogsu(freshly cooked chicken breast into tiny pieces,mixed with pudding with rice flour,eggs and vanilla), Kazandibi(same dessert,put into oven,the bottom gets red and delicious), Keskul(milk,flour,rice flour, almonds, pistachio,eggs,vanilla).
Desserts with pastry and syrup:The famous ones are Baklava(very thin layers of buttered pastry filled with pistachio or walnuts,at least 20 layers),baked first in the oven, then cold syrup is added), Kadayif(pastry resembling human hair,put into the tray,added butter and walnut,cooked like baklava), Kunefe is a southeastern(Antakya) specialty, instead of walnuts, special Antakya cheese is put inside), Sekerpare(Piece of sugar) (is baked in the oven as a round cookie,nut is put on the top, and syrup is added.)
Desserts with fruit and nuts: The most famous one of this type is Asure which is a sacred desert. It's believed that after the disasterous storm in Mt.Agri of Turkey, the people in Noah's Ark, had to cook a strange food to survive by adding everything aboard, dried figs,apricots, raisins, walnut, chickpeas, white beans, rice, wheat and sugar. It's cooked still the same way by putting cinnamon on the top. The others are Ayva Tatlisi(Quince Dessert), quince boiled with sugar, after color turns to be red, syrup and cream is put on the top), Incir Tatlisi(Fig Dessert), dried figs are boiled in syrup,with cream and walnut toppings.
Soft Drinks: Major soft beverages are Ayran(Yoghurt mixed with water and salt added), Boza(winter drink,made of fermented bulgur wheat, thick as pudding,drunk with cinnamon), Salep(winter drink made of Salep powder and hot milk, cinnamon added), Salgam Suyu (Sugar beet juice), Elma Cayi(Apple tea), Ihlamur(Linden tea) and Turk Kahvesi(Turkish Coffee).
Fish Restaurants: If Turkey is surrounded by three seas and Istanbul is on the shore of Sea of Marmara, how about the fish restaurants? Fish restaurants are of a special style,once you go to have fish, you sit at the table for 1-2 hours and enjoy your meal very slowly by sipping your Raki. Raki contains 45% alcohol, it is quite strong. 1/3 of a typical raki glass is filled with raki, the rest is complemented with cold water,added ice if desired. The water-like liquid; when water is added, suddenly turns out white,a milk-like thing. It's often called "The Lion's Milk" by the Turkish. Raki is made of grapes and it's a non-fermented drink. It should be drunk very slowly with food, therefore the culture in the fish restaurants has developed...
In the fish restaurants, the food comes as if eating is a ritual, not an easy and quick thing. Cold appetizers, like white cheese, melon, beans in olive oil or shrimp do come first. After having some from each of them and starting sipping your "raki", comes the hot appetizers, like boreks or fish balls with a big bowl of fresh seasonal salad. Finally while you are enjoying the appetizers, your fish gets ready and you enjoy the most delicious part of your ritual. Finally you enjoy a light dessert or fresh fruits before putting an end to this pleasure. You waive you hand to the chief waiter who knows you for long years and go back home happily and relaxed... Restaurants