Wednesday, 22 April 2009
Istanbul is hot. And we’re not talking about the weather. These days, there are more happening restaurants, bars, galleries and clubs around town than there are exquisite Ottoman mosques (and that’s a lot). The international fashion and design press have been talking up İstanbul ad nauseam, but the most significant thing about the accolade ‘World’s Hippest City’ is that İstanbullus themselves have come believe it. The creeping sense of decrepitude that had fallen like a pall over their once-all-powerful home town has vanished, replaced by a sense of energy and innovation not seen since the days of Süleyman the Magnificent.
The city’s over-abundance of important historic buildings and exciting new art galleries and museums provides visitors with more than enough to see during the day, but it’s at night that the place swings into high-velocity, mega-stylish action. Locals are flocking to see and be seen at an ever-growing array of bars, clubs and restaurants, bringing with them an infectious sense of joie de vivre and a discerning ability to judge these places on their standard of service, drinks, music and food as well as their position in the what’s-hot-and-what’s-not stakes.
That’s not to say that the locals are turning their backs on much-loved city institutions such as the rakı-soaked meyhane (tavern) or tranquil çay bahçesi (tea garden), because they wouldn’t dream of doing anything so foolish. They know, after all, that such institutions are one of the reasons that their home is – and always has been – rightfully dubbed the ‘City of the World’s Desire’.
Here is Istanbul….While getting the most out of shopping, does not this metropolis city impress you with the contrast of modern with traditional? Now, let's walk through the Nuruosmaniye gate of the Grand Bazaar (Kapali Carsi) as we breathe in some history. You can not take your eyes off of shop displays filled with many gorgeous merchandise from jewellery to leatherwear, to carpets.
Now, let's walk down to the wonderful aroma of the Egyptian Bazaar (Misir Carsisi). This is definitely going to make you feel like you are walking through history. A small antique piece can easily be reached at Cukurcuma, Horhor or Sisli. Although walking in this city is like walking in time, different shopping centres dispersed throughout the city can make you reach the contemporary designs. You can find the elite boutiques of the world famous name brands under the 19th century buildings in Nisantasi and Tesvikiye, or in elegant stores in Bagdat Caddesi.
A Turkish bath (hamam) is on the itinerary of most visitors to Istanbul. The baths are open to men and women at different hours of the day. Traditionally these baths with their marble floors and basins have been a part of daily life in Turkey. The different units are kept at different temperatures. The center stones are slabs where you can sweat. The personnel, tellak for men and natir for women, will massage the skin with a roul silk cloth (kese).
Grand (covered) bazaar
The Grand Bazaar consists of 4,000 shops on a series of covered streets leading to a central avenue. The oldest sections are the Sandal Bedesten (cloth auction) and Cevahir Bedesten (jewelry market). The streets are named according to the trades, such as gold and silver sellers, carpet sellers, slipper sellers, bootsellers, booksellers, pursemakers, etc. The most oriental atmosphere in Istanbul is found in the bazaar, which also houses many good restaurants and cafes.