No place like Istanbul-A City of Wonders!

The Times Kuwait Report

A captivating destination that offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty, Turkiye can never fail to impress or amaze you no matter how many times you visit.

From the rich history and architecture to the stunning landscapes and delicious cuisine and beautiful beaches Turkiye has something special to offer for everyone and every age group making it the fifth most visited country in the world.

Turkiye is a tourist paradise, a charming place full of treasures waiting to be explored, and a year round destination so there is never a bad time to visit this modern nation, which has a blend of ancient history and vibrant culture that everyone must experience once in a lifetime.

Among the many places to visit in Turkiye, Istanbul should be on top of the list. As one of the world’s greatest cities, Istanbul is a tourist paradise with its grand Byzantine basilica, Aya Sofya, and the Ottoman Sultans’ lavish Topkapı Palace attesting to the city’s centuries-long history as the capital of powerful empires. But Istanbul is not just about its past. The city is vibrant and dynamic, offering a blend of modern neighborhoods and ancient sites.

Straddling two continents, Istanbul is a city where the past and the present, the East and the West, blend seamlessly. This vibrant city, once the capital of three successive empires: Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman, is a treasure trove of historical and cultural wonders.

On a recent trip to Turkiye, our first stop, the Hagia Sophia, is a Marvel of Byzantine Architecture and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is a must-visit landmark in Istanbul. Built in 537 AD as a cathedral, it was converted into a mosque in 1453 and then into a museum in 1935. Today, it is a mosque again, showcasing the city’s rich religious history.

Just a stone’s throw away from the Hagia Sophia is the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, popularly known as the Blue Mosque. Its six minarets and cascading domes make it one of the most iconic symbols of Istanbul.

We then moved on to get a glimpse into the grandeur of the Ottoman Empire. The Topkapi Palace, once the main residence of the Ottoman sultans, offers a fascinating glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of the Ottoman Empire.

For a panoramic view of Istanbul we then headed to the Galata Tower. This medieval stone tower offers a 360-degree viewing gallery of the city. There can be nothing more relaxing after a steep walk through history, than with a cruise along the Bosphorus Strait, the waterway that separates Europe and Asia. The cruise offers stunning views of Istanbul’s skyline, dotted with palaces, mosques, and fortresses.

Istanbul is filled with an allure that has inspired travelers for centuries. From traditional treasure hunters to fashionistas, the city is a paradise for every shopper. İstanbul offers a wide variety of shopping opportunities to the travelers — covered bazaars, beautiful markets, workshops that continue ancient craft traditions, shopping malls with all major local and international brands, departmental stores, and much more. Here, you can find something for every taste and budget.

Often considered as one of the world’s biggest tourist attractions, the graceful Grand Bazaar offers a unique shopping experience. Founded in the 15th century, the world’s largest and oldest covered market, expands over a total area of 30.700 m2. With 55 streets, 20 entrances and more than 4,000 shops, the bazaar offers almost limitless choices for every budget from souvenirs to hand crafted jewelry.

The shops in the bazaar present a collection of different tastes, smells, voices and textures — hammam supplies, ceramics and glassware, carpets and rugs, lamps and lights, copper work, leather goods and silk garments and all kinds of wearables.

The vibrant and colorful Egyptian Bazaar is the perfect address for those who want to spoil themselves with a pleasure break. Follow the smell of the freshly ground coffee in the streets to find the entrance. Shop stalls are full of traditional indulgences such as Turkish delights and confectioneries for the sweet tooth, and a huge selection of multi-coloured herb and fruit teas and infusions.

Other than historical and street markets, Istanbul is also home to numerous modern shopping malls, regularly visited by locals. With around 120 shopping malls around the city, İstanbul has more shopping malls than many European countries do in total. All equipped with air conditioning, parking spaces and disabled facilities, these shopping malls offer countless products including luxury brands in many sectors varying from clothing to jewelry, entertainment and electronics, and besides being a place to shop, these centers are also considered recreational areas.

From world known fast-food chains to artisanal restaurants, the food courts within the malls have a wide range of choices and alternatives, whilst the cafés, often with outdoor terraces, are just perfect for a quick break of refreshment. No visit to Istanbul is complete without enjoying the city’s great shopping experience. The newest addition to Istanbul’s shopping landscape is the Galata Port Mall. As the largest mall in the historic port on the Bosphorus that has been rebuilt and renovated with a huge cost of $1.7 billion, the mall redefines luxury with high end restaurants and designer boutiques.

However, not to be missed is the world famous Taksim square. It is the most cosmopolitan part of the city and hosts a wide range of shops with several big brands concentrated in and around the famous, 2-kilometer-long İstiklal Street.

With historical bazaars, world class designer boutiques and modern upmarket malls, every year İstanbul attracts millions of shoppers. Amazing colors, divine scents, stunning designs and impressive curiosities await you in one of the most beautiful cities of the world.

Our brief but enchanting trip made it clear to us that Istanbul is indeed a city of wonders, where every corner holds a piece of history, a slice of culture, or a stunning view. Whether you are a history buff, a culture vulture, or a foodie, Istanbul has something to offer everyone. A metropolis with layers and contrast where old and modern co-exist, a city that never stands still, there is no place like Istanbul for a holiday.

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