Sixt Europe Travel Guide – Istanbul
Today the focus of our European attention will be Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey and gateway to the Middle East. Istanbul has a fruitful history and is one of the most historically significant cities in the world, being the former capital of four empires; the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Latin Empire, and most recently the Ottoman Empire.
Of the most spectacular attractions to see while in Istanbul, the breathtakingly stunning Mosques must rank highly. There are 2691 active mosques in Istanbul. Religious or not, the majesty of these buildings is not to be ignored. Aya Sofya is perhaps the most extravagant mosque in the city, which was, ironically, originally built as an Orthodox patriarchal basilica church in the year 537 and was used as thus until the Ottoman conquest in 1453. It is now secularized and the peace is used as a museum. The dome roof, and intricate mosaic are the main differentiating features and has served as inspiration for the other grandeur mosques in Istanbul. One of those being, the Blue Mosque, this mosques initial motivation was to surpass the nearby Aya Sofya. Which one of these magnificent buildings you prefer is down entirely to personal preference, however people generally come to the conclusion that overwhelming interior of Aya Sofya is matched with the blue mosques extraordinary exterior.
Along with the religious buildings, Istanbul is also home to some stunning palaces, where displaying opulence was the intention, and was truly what was delivered. The 2 palaces I am referring to are Dolmabahçe Palace and Topkapi Palace, Topkapi Palace was home to some colorful, Sultan, characters throughout the period of the Ottoman Empire. At its peak the palace housed as many as 4000 people on their complex. Tickets into the palace include a tour around the grounds and look at the royal jewels and Muslim holy relics. Then there is Dolmabahçe Palace, the lovechild of Sultan Abdül Mercit I and architect Garabet Balyan, who decided that Topkapi wasn’t quite splendid enough so designed a new palace that has been referred to as an ‘imperial pleasure palace’.
If you feel waned out by all the historical buildings of Istanbul, make sure you check out the Grand Bazaar. It is one of the largest covered markets in world, stretching across 61 streets and with over 3000 shops located in the heart of the old city. Get lost in this labyrinth of authentically Turkish stalls and shops and ensure to go down each little side street for more hidden treasures. Perfectly complementing a day in the Gran Bazaar is a walk up the Galata Tower, where you can experience the best panoramic views in the city!
Neighboring Istanbul is the unspoilt fishing village of Anadolu Kavagi which is perfect respite from the lively city. Rent a car from one of the 6 Branches of Sixt in Istanbul and drive the short distance in a BMW Z4 Auto convertible to escape from the scorching heat and leave the metropolis in style.
If you are travelling with children, they will love the Water Planet Aqua Park, the most popular water park in the Mediterranean. As well as a large variety of slides and rides, there is a bungee jump for the adventurous among your group! Drive your BMW with the roof down to enjoy Turkey largest city in all its splendor and leave your mark with Sixt rent a car, for more information regarding the cars available to rent and discount and deals available please visit Sixt car rental Istanbul.