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Tips for Indian Travelers to Istanbul

August 03, 2018

Tips for Indian Travelers to Istanbul

Turkey’s population is heterogeneous; when the Ottoman Empire imploded, Slav Muslims, Greeks, Albanians, Crimean Tatars, etc. came in as refugees. Being a bridge between Asia and Europe, Istanbul (formerly known as Constantinople) has been the capital of both Christianity and Islam. Here you will find mosques next to churches and bearded men in skull caps along with the young people in designer jeans who rarely visit a mosque.

Hagia Sophia, originally a church, it had the largest enclosed space when it was built in 532. Its dome, 30 meters in diameter collapsed 20 years later and a new one was built. This dome too collapsed and was rebuilt in its present-day form in 989. On May 29, 1453, the city was captured by Mehmet the Conqueror and the church became a mosque. Hagia Sophia was made a museum in 1934.

Sultanahmet Camii or the Blue Mosque has six minarets and when construction began in 1609, there were objections because it would rival the mosque in Mecca but Sultanahmet l overruled them. The mosque is best viewed from the Sea of Marmara or the Topkapi Palace. Non-Muslims are welcome but are restricted from the main prayer hall.

Topkapı Palace was the center of the Othman Empire and the sheer luxury of the palace is still evident. The palace is designed around a number of buildings with their own by courtyards and gardens.

Beyoglu is the pulsing heart of Istanbul for both the tourists and the young locals. If you find accommodation here, this is the place to stay. The main boulevard, Istiklal Kadessi is a great place for shopping or clubbing, winning or simply promenading. At the northern end is the Taksim Square with numerous hotels and bus and metro terminals.

Theodosius II’s land walls were rebuilt in 447 AD after an earthquake brought the original ones down. Expecting Attila the Hun to attack, the citizenry, regardless of rank had to help rebuild them. The main wall built is 5m thick and 12m high. This is protected by an outer wall 2m wide and 8.5 m high. All this is defended by an outer moat 20m wide. As expected, Attila failed to conquer the city.

Bosphorus is the narrow passage between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara, 48,000 ships pass through annually. This is an extremely narrow passage for such a large volume of shipping. Find a café overlooking the straits, relax with a coffee and watch the ships negotiate the straits.

Visiting Turkey is economical and full of surprises and if you plan to visit it, you should start now. Planning well in advance will get you many discounts and advantages. Don’t forget to get adequate local currency for all your travel expenses and get travel insurance as well. For all your foreign exchange needs, visit www.buyforex.com and get the most competitive forex rates and your EbixCash World Money multi-currency card delivered to your home. Do not forget to buy travel insurance as well.

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