Hg2 : The Hedonist

A Hedonist’s guide to…

Istanbul

Greek Orthodox Patriarchate
Seat of the eastern branch of the Greek Orthodox Church; sit (or stand) and stare in wonder.
Efes Basketball
With a name that is probably not as recognisable as that of the other Istanbul teams, Efes are surprisingly the most successful club in the history of the Turkish Basketball League.
Cagaloglu Hamam
A historical hammam that's had a bevy of royals and celebrities dropping in for a visit.
Besiktas
Established during the late Ottoman period, Karakartallar (The Black Eagles) were founded in 1903 and play their home games at the 32,000 seater BKJ Inonu Stadium.
Aquarius Sauna
A gay-only venue, this hammam is open 24 hours a day. A perfect venue if you happen to be sleepless in Istanbul.
Grand Bazaar
To really do justice to the extreme shopping experience of the Grand Bazaar, allow at least half a day - if not more. With antiques, leather, jewellery, fabric, clothes and much more, there's a lot to take in.
Sultanahmet (Blue) Mosque
Located opposite the Hagia Sophia in Sultanahmet, the Blue Mosque was built to prove (unsuccessfully) that Islamic architects could build a structure as wonderful. Nevertheless, it's a must-see.
Topkapi Palace Museum
Sited on a promontory overlooking the confluence of the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus, the Topkapi is within walking distance of Sultanahmet's other cultural treasures.
St Stephen’s Cathedral
Still used by the Bulgarian community for whom it was originally built in 1871, St Stephen's Cathedral is located on the short of the Golden Horn.
Mosaic Museum
Tucked away by the Blue Mosque, this unprepossessing building houses a mosaic floor depicting bucolic and mythological scenes. Afterward invest in more modern artefacts in the Arasta Bazaar.
Galata Tower
This 14th-century tower was converted by the Ottomans into a prison with one hell of a view over the city...
Hagia Sophia
Built by Justinian in AD537, the Hagia Sophia was the largest building on earth for a millennium. With its absolutely stunning interior, if you see one thing in Istanbul, see the Hagia Sophia.
City Walls
Walk the length of the wall from the Yedikule Fortress on the Sea of Marmara or the ruined Byzantine Blachernae palace on the Golden Horn.
Calligraphy Museum
Well worth a detour from the nearby Grand Bazaar, the Calligraphy Museum houses a beautiful if fragmented collection of Korans, tugras, seals and calligraphic writing.
Vefa Bozacisi
From boza (a fermented millet drink unchanged since Turkic pre-history) to sira (a fermented grape juice), a host of traditional pleasures are on offer at the pretty Vefa Bozacisi.
Kumkapi Meyhanes
Although popularity with the tourist hordes has taken some of the joy out of eating at the Kumkapi Meyhanes, it is still a fun experience on a warm night. The fish is, as always, delicious.
Doga Balik
Delicious meze and fabulously fresh fish are served alongside superb views of the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque. Within easy reach of Beyoglu's bars and clubs; head to nearby 5 Kat for a post-dinner drink.
Empress Zoe
Stylish in its simplicity and located in the heart of Sultanahmet, the Empress Zoe takes some beating for cultural visitors. Relax with a drink in the garden or on the roof terrace and soak up the atmosphere of Old Istanbul.yEventWatcherDiv

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