İstanbul has been shaped by centuries of competing cultures that have moulded it into a uniquely diverse city engulfed by its history. Nothing sums this up like mighty Bosphorus, the focal point between the Asian and European continents.
Another quite extraordinary indication of this cities diverse history is that it has had three names since its beginnings as a Greek city-state on the European side of the Bosphorus.
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Divine Bosphorus & A True Blend of Competing Cultures and Traditions
Another quite extraordinary indication of this cities diverse history is that it has had three names since its beginnings as a Greek city-state on the European side of the Bosphorus. From Byzantium to Constantinople and from Constantinople to İstanbul, this city has been the prosperous international capital of many of the worlds greatest civilizations. From Byzantium to Constantinople and then İstanbul this city has been the prosperous international capital of many of the worlds greatest civilizations. Uniquely poised to take advantage of its position as the link between east and west, İstanbul has become famous as a spectacular mix of Christian and Muslim design.
With the transition from Byzantium to Constantinople the city began to thrive under the patronage of Emperor Constantine and underwent an exponential increase in its population. During this period the city became a centre of Christian learning and architecture with the building of Hagia Sophia (Ἁγία Σοφία), which became and remained the largest Christian cathedral for a thousand years. In keeping with this innovative and grand tradition, after becoming İstanbul the city became an imperious centre of Islamic culture. Magnificent structures were built as monuments to the Ottoman Empire and Islamic tradition including the awe-inspiring Grand Bazaar and the sublime Süleymaniye Mosque. Concurrent with these grand constructions was a spectacular proliferation in the arts and calligraphy that entered in a new era of Islamic art and art forms.
It is of no surprise that with such a long illustrious history İstanbul is home to many historical landmarks of great significance and beauty. The Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii), more commonly known as the Blue Mosque, is a contender for the most majestic building in İstanbul, however, with so many similarly grandiose buildings it is impossible to choose just one. Constructed at the beginning of the 17th century it is considered to be one of the last great mosques of the classical period. The mosque is an amalgam of the architectural styles that had previously been incorporated into the city’s structures, and although still a practicing Mosque is one of the most important historical buildings in İstanbul.
Hagia Sophia, as previously mentioned, when fully completed was the greatest cathedral in the world and is considered the most outstanding example of Byzantine architecture. Most notable for its colossal dome, the architectural techniques involved in constructing it were the first of their kind. The subtle addition of the Minarets in the 16th century have rendered Hagia Sophia a truly glorious structure the likes of which you will not see anywhere else. Hagia Sophia today is a museum housing resplendent mosaics and frescoes all of which have been meticulously restored to their initial beauty.
The Dolmabahçe Palace is of particular significance to modern Turkey as it is the building in which Mustafa Kemal Attaturk died. The clocks on this superlative palace were set to 9:05 in remembrance of the time of Attaturk’s death, since then some have been changed to other significant times, however, the clock in the ‘Attaturk Room’ has remained set to 9:05. The palace was paid for with the equivalent of 35 tonnes of gold giving some indication of the lavish design of both the interior and the exterior. Thirteen tonnes of gold in the form of gold leaf were used to gild the ceilings of this monolithic building and the rare materials of Baccarat crystal, brass and mahogany were used to create the renowned Crystal Staircase.
Exquisite Nightlife on Bosphorus
İstanbul’s nightlife scene has been thriving in recent years with multiple new nightclubs to cater to the wealthy elite of not just İstanbul but the whole world. As İstanbul’s popularity as a luxury destination has grown so has the demand for world-class nightlife venues, and İstanbul has obliged.
The concept of 360 Istanbul is an artful combination of four core elements; cuisine, entertainment, vibe and ambiance. All elements are developed with the experience and knowledge of 360 Entertainment Group’s professional team. While all of these elements are critical for a memorable restaurant experience and the highest level of satisfaction, they have the same level of importance and coexist here in harmony.
İstanbul's well-known restaurant and nightclub, Club Anjelique, has been the place to go for entertainment for years. İstanbul’s celebrities have been enjoying Anjelique's exquisite atmosphere and incomparable view of the Bosphorus since its inception. Located in a 3-storey seaside mansion in Ortaköy, each floor has a different music style and hosts world-famous DJ's. If you want great entertainment and exquisite flavors together in the same extraordinary place then Anjelique is where you should go.
Located in lush green gardens, Çırağan Palace Kempinski’s chic Le Fumoir Bar is a great place to taste exquisite, flavourful cocktail creations and a premium selection of the finest liquors and spirits. Surrounded by palm trees and open to the refreshing breeze of the Bosphorus, Le Fumoir's new summer extension, Pavilion, offers a splendid view of the sea and the Anatolian side of the city. You may also indulge in a variety of flavoured tobaccos, served in handmade humidors as well as traditional hookahs and shisha.
In its pristine location Reina has become one of the glitziest clubs dominating the İstanbul nightlife scene. Frequented by İstanbul’s beautiful people as well as diplomats and businessman, this club can claim to have one of the best views in the city to compliment the expertly mixed drinks and exciting atmosphere. Especially good in the summer Reina is the ideal place to relax or party in style.
Fine Dining with Ottoman Cuisine Flavour
Turkish cuisine is as eclectic as the country’s cultural background but with a distinctly ‘Ottoman’ flavour. At the Bosphorus Grill you can reach out and touch the waters of the Bosphorus while enjoying a view spanning from the Bosphorus Bridge to the Maiden's Tower. Follow the tantalising aromas to your waterside table right by the Bosphorus, where you can sample fish and meat grilled in style, specially selected from Turkey and around the world.
İstanbul’s most exquisite and romantic fine dining experience is Tuğra Retsaurant and Lounge, located on the first floor of the original Çırağan Palace. The feast begins with the ambience - rich Ottoman décor, live classical Turkish music and the ever-stirring backdrop of the Bosphorus. For the full effect, ask for a table on Tuğra’s summer terrace, lit by the moon, a candle and the Bosphorus Bridge. With specialties like Lamb Külbastı and Testi Kebab, Tuğra’s modern classic menu with lightened-up versions of classic Turkish and Ottoman recipes will take you back to the Sultans’ most glorious era.
Sunset Grill and Bar has been one of the leading fine dining white tablecloth restaurants in İstanbul. Located on a hilltop below Ulus Park in the upscale neighborhood of Ulus, you will dine alongside a spectacular view of the Bosphorus strait, Bosphorus Bridge and Asian shoreline. You will also find one of İstanbul's only Asian fusion style menus here thanks to Hiroki Takemura, the founder of Nobu, who was guest chef for two years in the 2000’s.
Ulus 29 is owned and managed by Metin Fadıllıoğlu. – a name synonymous with offering quality service, ambiance and a fine dining experience to local and international gastronomy aficionados. Ulus 29 is located on a hilltop in Ulus and the indoor dining area has floor to to ceiling windows affording a breathtaking view of the Bosphorus strait and the two bridges connecting the European and Asian shorelines. Further, the terrace is open during the summer months for your dining pleasure.
Palatial Hotel Venues
More like palaces than hotels, İstanbul is famous for hosting some of the most magnificent luxury accommodation for discerning individuals. There are many fine hotels in İstanbul but none rival the Çırağan Palace Kempinski, known in the city as the quintessence of ultimate luxury. Located on the shore of the Bosphorus with a rich tradition of genuine hospitality and refined luxury, your every need is catered to beyond your expectations. The tastefully decorated rooms and suites are lavish in style and comfort and capture the essence of pure luxury. 11 suites in the imperial Palace will treat you to an exclusive ambience that was once enjoyed by the majestic Sultans of the Ottoman Empire. If it were not for the sheer magnitude of activities both cultural and gastronomic you would not have to leave your hotel.
The Four Seasons Bosphorus is a chic city retreat on İstanbul’s glorious seafront. This converted Ottoman palace is surrounded by indigo waters and mountaintops and is guaranteed to meet and surpass your expectation of Ottoman luxury. Each luxury hotel room at the Four Seasons Bosphorus is a bright and airy example of what happens when new meets old, with the best possible results. Chic, luxury hotel-room interiors mingle with centuries-old architectural details as balmy sea breezes give way to panoramic waterfront, garden and city views.