Travel Postcard: 48 hours in Istanbul

Fri Mar 19, 2010 10:17am EDT
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By Simon Akam

ISTANBUL (Reuters Life!) - Turkey's largest city is a 2010 European Capital of Culture filled with the treasures of a glorious past from the Roman and Ottoman empires, while straddling the Bosphorous Strait where Europe meets Asia.

Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors to get the most of out of a 48-hour visit.


6:00 p.m. Start your visit in Galata, on the European side of the Bosphorus. Take the Tunel funicular up the steep hillside, and then head down Galip Dede Caddesi to the Galata Tower. The cylindrical structure dates from the 14th century, when it was built to defend the Genoese colony in Constantinople. The lift-accessed viewing gallery offers a broad view across the waters of the Golden Horn inlet to the old city and the Sea of Marmara.

7:00 p.m. Stroll to Istiklal Caddesi, Istanbul's main shopping street, which runs through the Beyoglu neighborhood.

In the 19th century the area was the city's principle European quarter, and the thoroughfare is lined with fine apartment blocks in the Parisian style. International boutiques stand cheek-by-jowl with purveyors of Turkish delight and pastries, while Denizler Kitabevi (Istiklal Caddesi 199/A, +90 212 249 8893) is stocked with antique maps and prints of Istanbul. Keep an eye out too for the antique tram and the church of St Mary Draperis at No. 429.

8:00 p.m. Still on Istiklal, eat at 360 (Misir Apt N:311 K:8, +90 212 251 1042) a restaurant perched in the penthouse of an old apartment block with a view of Istanbul's former embassies. The menu offers a modern riff on traditional Turkish cuisine, with mezes, sushi and the prospect of Death by Chocolate to follow.

10:30 p.m. If stamina permits Babylon (Sehbender Sok. No:3, +90 212 292 7368) in Beyoglu has built up a reputation for live music in Istanbul in winter, while shipping out to the Aegean in the summer months. Founded in 1999, acts from Patti Smith to Afrika Bambaata have stopped by. Elsewhere Jazz Stop (Tel Sok. 5/A, +90 212 252 9314) and the Nardis Jazz Club (Kuledibi Sok. No:14, +90 212 244 6327) are a way into a different scene.   Continued...

<p>People walk in the compounds of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul April 5, 2009. REUTERS/Osman Orsal</p>