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Weekend Break in Istanbul - Weekend Break in Istanbul Page Two

The Church of the Divine Wisdom or Ayasofya is still regarded as one of the most important buildings ever constructed. When Emperor Justinian first built it on the site of Byzantium in 537 AD, it was an incredible architectural feat. The church remained the largest Christian church in the world for many years, until Rome’s St Peter’s Basilica was constructed and claimed the title. Upon being seized by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1453, the church was renamed a mosque, and in 1935 the building was reclaimed as a museum.

Also in this area is the crossroads to old Asia Minor, officially named Eminönü. You can catch one of many ferries across the Golden Horn to Karaköy. Both sides of the river are great places to shop for all kinds of local produce, from fish, cheese, baklava and other pastries, to hardware, silks and clothing.



The Spice Market is one such example. Also known as the Egyptian Bazaar, the market is home to all kinds of exotic fragrances and tastes from the East, including a variety of spices, dried fruits, nuts, seeds and Turkish delight.


There are restaurants and cafes aplenty in the centre of Istanbul offering typical local dishes as well more International cuisine. For traditional meyhane dining experience, visit Nevizade Sokak or Asmelimescit Caddesi in Beyoglu, where you can sample lamb Dolma or Sarma, followed by a sweet pastry and a small cup of thick, black coffee. There is also a very reputable fish restaurant called Balikçi Sabahattin, on Seyit Hasan Küyü Sokak Street, Sultanahmet, where you could try fish börek; a filo pastry dish made with the fish of your choice.

Where to stay - With the huge influx of tourists and business visitors, there is a wide range of hotels catering for every budget. A cost effective option would be the Hotel Agan, located in Sirkeci, which has prices starting from just 25 euros per night. The Hotel Sultan’s Inn, in Sultanahmet, is slightly prettier, but still modestly priced and prices start from 26 euros. More expensive hotels include the Madison Hotel in Taksim and Topkapi, near Sultanahmet.

If you want to sample the exotic delights Istanbul has to offer, then set aside a weekend to visit this vibrant and historical city. Hosh Geldiniz!