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Special: Tulip Festival in Istanbul

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April until the beginning of May is tulip season in Istanbul. Since 2006 the city of Istanbul is honoring the tulip with this festival. And it is totally free, no entry fees, no nothing.
As the tulips are literally spread all over the city, providing eye candy, there are some spots, namely parks, which are especially worth visiting to enjoy the colorful tulips. These four spots are the highlights of the Tulip Festival, or Lale Festivali in Turkish.


Yildiz Grove, BesiktasThe Yildiz Grove is actually located between Besiktas and Ortaköy, and therefore an ideal spot to visit on the way to the market or the mosque in Ortaköy. It is one of the biggest green area close to the city and spreads over the hills above Besiktas delivering beautiful views of the Bosphorus, while inhabiting lots of different plants and an overwhelming amount of squirrels.
Best reachable by bus from Taksim or Besiktas.
Gülhane Park, Fatih/SultanahmetRight next to the Topkapi Palace and the Archeological Museum the Gül…

Little Hagia Sophia - free and beautiful

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Only a few people know that there is not only the renowned Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya) in Istanbul, but also the Little Hagia Sophia (Küçük Ayasofya Camii). So unfortunately it is often literally overseen by many tourists, even though it is also located in Sultanahmet, only a few minutes downhill from the Hippodrome. And moreover the oldest surviving Byzantine monument in Istanbul.
Little Hagia Sophia (Küçük Ayasofya Camii) - free and beautifulBeing older as the big Hagia Sophia and supposedly a miniature version of the Hagia Sophia, the attribute little makes perfectly sense. It was built by the same architects during the reign of Emperor Justinian I. But actually it differs in terms of architecture and therefore mainly the name stuck, making it the Little Hagia Sophia over times until today. 
Nevertheless it is very beautiful and provides an interesting interior design and architecture. Originally build as a church, being the first and largest on in Constantinople, it was called Church o…

Top 3 free apps to get around in Istanbul

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Travel guide apps are not the only ones which make visiting a city more easy and relaxed. Also apps like dictionaries and guides for public transportations can be very helpful - for travelers and for locals. Here are three free apps which make it easy to get around and along in the beautiful city of Istanbul. With those one you will not get lost in Istanbul and find everything you want to see, while making your way back home.
3 Apps to easily get around in Istanbul TrafiTrafi Türkiye is probably the most useful app when it comes to finding the way by public transportation in Istanbul. And public transportation in this case covers bus, ferry, metrobus, metro/funicular, dolmuş and tram. Always there are multiple routes provided which allows to pick the most convenient one, without buses, with less walking, with ferries - you name it. Once you choose the route, it provides a listing of all the stops along the way with times, including any interchanges if necessary, a map of the journey, …

Energy Museum Santralistanbul Istanbul for free

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The Energy Museum Istanbul at Santralistanbul is one of the few free museums in Istanbul. And sadly often overseen by visitors as it is not along the typical tourist routes people take while visiting Istanbul. Nevertheless it is well worth a visit. Especially as not only the entry is free, there is even a free shuttle service.
Energy Museum SantralistanbulOriginally called Silahtaraga it was a power plant providing Istanbul with energy from 1914 until 1983. Being assigned to the Bilgi University in 2004 it was converted into a campus in 2007 and received its new name "Santralistanbul". Becoming a centre for arts, culture and education and Turkey´s first industrial archeology museum.
The museum itself is located in the area where once the turbine-generators and the steam boilers where situated. In the Energy Museum one can see turbine-generators from companies like Siemens and AEG, and the stunning control room, used for the power distribution to all the areas of Istanbul.

On t…

Ottoman Fountains in Istanbul - Culture for free

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Yet still the best way to experience Istanbul is by foot. Not only due to traffic and the partial closeness of sights, especially because literally around every corner there is something to see or to experience. One of these things in Istanbul are the Ottoman Fountains. For sure everyone visiting Istanbul will pass some of them, at least on the way from one famous sight to another. But they are often to beautiful and interesting to be just passed by. Therefore here some information about the Ottoman Fountains in Istanbul, which apparently are free to see, visit and touch.
Important Ottoman Fountains in IstanbulIn Ottoman Istanbul fountains were often built  with mosques, providing the part of the religious ritual of cleansing before and after prayer. But as often they were used for distribution of water to the public, usually as a charity. These architectural artworks show an almost forgotten part of the rich Turkish culture and history.

The most important fountains in İstanbul that hav…

Viewpoints Istanbul: Halic Metro Station

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One of my favorite viewpoints, and yet most of the times overseen by people, is the Halic Metro Station. Situated in the middle of a bridge crossing the Golden Horn the Station provides a great view up the Golden Horn and down to the Bosphorus. Recently it also has two small passenger bridges at both ends inside of the station, which provide an even better view to all sides. Without the need to leave the station at all. Also the Halic Metro Station is a good starting point to explore Balat, Fener or to visit the Süleymaniye Mosque, probably the most beautiful mosque of Istanbul, which also provides a nice view. 
View from Halic Metro StationHere are some pictures taken by me at the Metro Station to give you an idea why I think is one of the most stunning viewpoints in Istanbul, especially at night. The view goes from Eyüp with Pierre Loti over the Fatih and Süleymaniye mosque, the Yeni mosque down to Topkapi, the Galata Bridge and the Galata Tower.





How to get thereWell, apparently the…

Istanbul Museums for free: Turkish Bank Museum

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Even though Istanbul does provide a lot of museums, the majority of them are unfortunately - for the budget traveler - not free, not even cheap. One of the very few exception is the Turkish Bank Museum - Türkiye IS Bankasi Museum or Isbank Museum. 
Turkish Bank Museum IstanbulAccording to the name of the Museum one normally would suspect it is a museum about the Turkish Bank, but that is only half of the museum. Being situated in an old bank building in Eminönü it is a sight by itself. Built 1892 and used as the Isbank main branch from 1926 to 2005 it is a museum since 2007, and hosts changing exhibitions - about three to four throughout the year.

Besides an exhibition about the history of Türkiye IS Bankasi itself and about the technical development of banking over time, this years main exhibition is about Canakkale 1915. The Canakkale 1915 "From the depths to the trenches" exhibition will run until the mid of August and is also in English. Partially on the signs and complet…

Free Turkish Courses and many more

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Everybody who is intending to stay longer in the cultural and economic heart of Turkey, Istanbul, may want to learn Turkish. At least at a basic level. May it be just to get better in touch with all the locals and their culture, for better integrating or even for just being able to interact smoother when it comes down to everyday life.

Turkish lessons & more in Istanbul - for freeThere are literally mirads of Turkish lessons offered all over the city. Of better and worse quality and every level of rates asked. But besides that it is not the easiest thing to pick the right language school at all, not everybody may be able to pay much for a language course. Luckily here come the ISMEK in, which is kind of a free public school run by government. In the first place aiming at Turkish residents to provide courses in a broad range of topics from languages over programming to handicrafts, ISMEK also offers Turkish language courses for foreigners. And the best about it, those courses are f…