The following has been contributed by author Semih Gencer. Semih is an international student, originally from Turkey, currently attending the Touro Graduate School of Business.
“If the Earth were a single state, Istanbul would be its capital.” – Napoleon Bonaparte
My hometown of Istanbul is the only city in the world that spans two continents: Asia and Europe. The Bosphorus River, meandering through the heart of the city, combines the waters of the Black Sea and Marmara Sea. For that reason, as one article describes, for thousands of years, Istanbul was one of most aspired to cities in the world. It was a city that everyone wanted, and it was all because of its location. We can say that Istanbul has for a long time been the heart and soul of Turkey. It has a huge history. Istanbul has been the capital city of four empires: the Roman, Byzantine, Latin and Ottoman Empires. Istanbul has a rich history, and so much remains of each of these empires that you can still see. There is much interesting historical information about Istanbul, but if you ask me why I love Istanbul a lot, I have strong reasons to explain in the following parts.
1. The Food
Turkish food is considered to be among the top three greatest cuisines in the world, along with French and Chinese, so Istanbul is a place where you may try different tastes from different parts of Turkey. In Istanbul, you can find the best samples of the country’s food. I strongly advise that every single person should try Turkish food. Firstly, my suggestion is to try traditional Turkish mezes (small plates) paired with Turkish Raki. Traditionally, Turkish people call this the lion’s milk since it looks like milk, but it is actually a very strong and alcoholic drink.
Another delicious suggestion is the traditional Turkish breakfast. Popular options include scrambled eggs with briny olives and sheep’s-milk cheese, as well as honey and Turkish clotted cream on warm bread. Also, there are many different kind of meat kebabs and of desserts. Istanbul is the one of the best baklava spots too. The most important thing is that in Istanbul, when thinking about food, there is no need to compromise on taste. This is a unique experience for people who like to try new things.
2. Its History and Architecture
Istanbul remains one of the world’s great cultural and architectural centers, as well as a place where European and Asian cultures meet. There are hundreds of museums and tours of Ottoman palaces like Dolmabahce and Topkapi Palace. Also, The Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sofia are the most popular historical places in Istanbul. According to one city guide, “The biggest dome in the world is the Hagia Sophia, and it’s the perfect fusion of Islam and Christianity. The cathedral was built when Istanbul was known as Constantinople, so it is perfectly combines significant artifacts of two of the world’s biggest religions, and you can see and learn a lot about Istanbul’s history here.” Moreover, Istanbul is an outdoor museum. As one blogger describes, “wherever you go, you will find twisted streets, ancient buildings, and fantastic grandeur.” Also, I think Istanbul has to be one of the most photogenic cities in the world. This immense city is full of mysteries, and I guarantee that Istanbul will be an unforgettable place for you.
3. The Bosphorus
The Bosphorus is “a narrow, natural strait and an internationally significant waterway located in Turkey”. It has own magical view over the Istanbul. As a suggestion, a Bosphorus cruise tour is one of the most enjoyable activities ever. You can take great photos of the city during the boat tour and see the expensive historical houses along the river. In addition to the view from the water, a hotel with a view of the Bosphorus is a wonderful way to experience the city. I hope you will visit some day.
Further Reading from Touro Libraries:
Graf, C. (2016, February). One city, two continents. Faces: People, Places, and Cultures, 32(5), 8.
Groen, D. (2015, November) A Novel Take on Istanbul, Chatelaine, 88, 28.
Finkel, A. (2011, Dec 14). From the buzz of the bazaar to the beauty of the Bosphorus. Financial Times.