Mysteries of Istanbul, Turkey

74 images Created 15 Oct 2010

Turkey might be the world's most contested country. Its landscape is dotted with battlegrounds, ruined castles and the palaces of great empires. History buffs can immerse themselves in marvels and mementos stretching back to the dawn of civilisation.

Then again, it is also a great destination to simply unwind, spend an afternoon being pampered at a hamam, or let the warm waters off the Mediterranean coast lap at your toes. Bon vivants need look no further than ?stanbul, where the markets, the meze, tables piled high with scrumptious treats and bars are among the most stylish and atmospheric, and the mod Ottoman cuisine rates as the tastiest, in the world.
The country's tumultuous history has left a deep legacy. People who've never had to suffer for an idea or fight for a patch of land can be overwhelmed by the passion of ordinary Turks for their country. But for ordinary Turks that passion finds its outlet, not in martial ardour, but in simple pleasures: family, food, music, football, and friendship. Turks have an inspiring ability to keep things in perspective, to get on with everyday life and to have a bloody good time in the process. Sharing their joy in the simple things is a highlight for every visitor. Afiyet olsun! Istanbul especially one can retrace the steps of the byzantine empire when visiting Sultanahmet's extraordinary monuments and museums; marvel at the magnificent mosques built by the Ottaman sultans on the city's seven hills; and wander the cobbled streets of the ancient Jewish, Greek and Armenian neighbourhoods. With half of Istanbul in Europe and the other half in Asia, one can literally hop between the religiously conservative suburbs in Asia to the hedonistic entertainment hot spots along the European shore.
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