Showing posts from 2014

Local Markets in Istanbul - not free but cheap

This is the first post about something which is not free, but might save everybody some money. As local markets are by far the best option to buy fruits, vegetables and cheese cheap in Istanbul. Saying that it needs to be stated that the ones which are Organic Markets are relatively expensive in comparison to the normal ones, but they are still cheaper as all the organic supermarkets in Istanbul. 

And at least the unique atmosphere of a more or less packed Turkish Market is for free and nevertheless priceless!
List of Local Markets in Istanbul To provide a better overview here the markets sorted by days: 
Monday MarketsBahcelievler - Next to Türk Böbrek Vakfi Göztepe - Next to Selamicesme Özgürlük Park, starting at the Selamicesme railroad bridgeTuesday MarketsArnavutköy - Close to the Arnavutköy bus stopBahcesehir - "Pazartürk", located between Bahcesehir and EsenkentBakirköy - Zuhurat Baba, Karabal Avenue, next to the exit of Bakirköy Prof. Dr. Mazhar Osman Ruh Sagligi ve Sin…

Viewpoints in Istanbul: Üsküdar

Üsküdar provides one of the nicest viewpoints in Istanbul, even though it does not provide a view from above. But therefore it is one of the best spots to see the sun going down over the historical district of Sultanahmet with the Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque and the Haiga Sophia. And of course the Maiden´s Tower, another one of Istanbul's famous landmarks, prominently situated some hundred meters off the Üsküdar shore. The most renowned sad legend says an emperor had a much beloved daughter and an oracle prophesied that she would be killed by a snake on her 18th birthday. The emperor, to keep his daughter away from land, had the tower built in the middle of the Bosphorus to protect his daughter until her 18th birthday. On the 18th birthday of the princess, the emperor brought her a basket of exotic sumptuous fruits as a birthday gift, delighted that he was able to prevent the prophecy. Upon reaching into the basket, however, a snake that had been hiding among the fruit bit the…

Gülhane Park - Green Istanbul

One other green retreat on the European side of Istanbul is right next to all the sights in the Sultanahmet area. Just down below the Topkapi Palace lays the Gülhane Park. This park is the oldest one in Istanbul, and translates basically to Rosehouse Park.
Gülhane ParkBeing formerly a the Palace garden, a royal retreat in all aspects, the Gülhane Park is nowadays open for everyone who wants some relaxation and green after visiting the Topkapi Palace, the Hagia Sophia or the Blue Mosque. Nevertheless it is still located inside the outer walls of the Topkapi Palace.
Next to the beautiful trees and flowers the park features the first statue of Atatürk erected in Turkey (1926), sculpted by Heinrich Krippel and the Goths Column from Roman times. The Goth Column is the oldest standing relic from the Roman era in Istanbul.

If one follows the main walkway, which is lined with giant plane trees on both sides, the reward will be a magnificent view of the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara. The park…

Süleymaniye Mosque - Istanbul for free

Mosques in IstanbulIn Istanbul one will literally get to see thousands of mosques, the Blue Mosque being the most famous one and renowned one. These mosques are kind of the trademark of Istanbul and its silhouette, with some being more outstanding than others. One of the most stunning mosques of the city is the Süleymaniye Mosque. Some even say it is the most beautiful one of Istanbul. In any case it is well worth a visit, even more worth as the Blue Mosque. And the best thing about all the mosques in Istanbul is that the visit is free, as long as one follows the dress code. Shoes off for everybody and women need to cover her head, shoulders and legs.

Süleymaniye MosqueThe mosque was finalized, after seven years of construction, in 1557 to honor Süleyman the Magnificent and is situated on the third hill of Istanbul. The architect of the mosque was the widely known and worshipped Mimar Sinan, who is supposed to be the most famous architect of the Ottoman era and the Süleymaniye Mosque…

Viewpoints in Istanbul: Congress Center

This viewpoint is actually quite unknown and a little bit off the track, and does not provide a real overview of Istanbul at all. Nevertheless the view is nice, and green, the latter is quite uncommon in Istanbul. And it provides a nice view of the coastline of Üskudar with Kadiköy in the background.
Interesting spots around the Viewpoint ICCBesides it offers the opportunity to have a nice walk in one of the very few green lungs of Istanbul, the Macka Parki, and to see the Dolmanbahce Palace, his Clocktower and the construction site of the new Besiktas stadium from above. For all who are interested in the history of military, the Military Museum Istanbul is literally just around the corner. The famous, and stunning, Mehter Military Band performs every day at 3pm.

Take the Metro M2 to Osmanbey, Exit Pangalti

İstanbul Kongre Merkezi, Taşkışla Caddesi Harbiye

Istanbul for free: Elgiz Museum

The Elgiz Museum for Contemporary Art is the only museum in Istanbul which is actually free all the time. Besides only the art galleries and the SALT exhibition spaces are free of charge all the time.
The Elgiz Museum for Contemporary ArtThe museum opened in 2001 and was founded by the collectors Sevda and Can Elgiz with the idea of promoting the development of contemporary art in Turkey by providing space, support and international visibility to projects by young Turkish artists. 

The Museum is backed up by the Elgiz Collection which consists of work of renown artists such as Ömer Uluç, Abdurrahman Öztoprak, Tracey Emin, Jan Fabre, Barbara Kruger, Cindy Sherman, Andy Warhol, Julian Schnabel, Sol LeWitt, Peter Halley, Paul McCarthy,Robert Rauschenberg and Doug Aitken, permanently integrating new works of young artists.

The Elgiz Museum of Contemporary Art provides a total of 3500 m2 of exhibition space for the collection and temporary exhibitions. Aside from the main hall, reserved for d…

Turkish Food 101: Breakfast

After the explanation of some typical turkish drinks before, now some information about the what is what in Turkish breakfast. Yet Turkey has not such a big breakfast culture as for example Germany in matters of variations, especially of bread. Nevertheless, at least on the weekends, people gather together for splendid breakfasts with quite a range of foods at home or even at cafes and restaurants. The kahvalti - the turkish word for breakfast - is relatively healthy, provides quite some variations, and always comes with some tomatoes, cucumber and olives. Includes some juice, but less likely a coffee (kahve), which is more likely to be consumed after it, but with the typical tea, cay. 

Turkish Food: BreakfastEkmek - Bread in different variations, mostly softBörek - A baked pastry made with phyllo dough and stuffed with a one or more vegetables and sometimes meat or cheesePeynirli Börek - Cheese börekKymali Börek - Ground beef börekSimit - Relatively dry bagel with sesameBeyaz peynir …

Kadiköy - Haydarpasa Railway Station - Free sights in Istanbul

Yet another sight in Istanbul, but one which is often not overseen but not visited. Assumingly because it is a little bit of the beaten track and located in Kadiköy, on the Asian side of Istanbul. Nevertheless the Haydarpasa Railway Station is for sure one of most grand and important symbols of the city. It is situated next to the wharf in Kadiköy and has a unique architecture, representing German renaissance.  Neoclassical Haydarpasa Railway StationThe neoclassical Haydarpasa building, basically a gift to the Sultan Abdul Hamid IIfrom German Kaiser Wilhelm II, was built by the Anatolia-Baghdad Corporation, according to plans carried out by the German architects Otto Ritter von Kühlmann and Hellmuth Cuno, between 1906 and 1908. Its foundation is 1100 wooden piles, each 21 meters long, driven into the mushy shore by steam hammer. It outer appearance resembles to a certain distinct a small european castle, therefore perfectly fitting into the attitude on how Istanbul should look like du…

Turkish Drinks: What is What?

The Turkish cuisine goes well beyond Kebap and Raki, providing a high variety of dishes and drinks for every time of the day and every occasion. But for those not familiar with the names of Turkish food and drinks it might not be easy to experience all of it, if one does not want to go for trial & error. Therefore here a list of typical Turkish drinks and translations of common drinks, and don´t worry, a list of Turkish Foods will follow soon!

Turkish DrinksRaki - THE national spirit of Turkey, anise-flavoured, high level of alcohol, not sweet at all, either consumed straight - called sek - or combined with some chilled water and/or ice cubes as a 4cl shot, a tek.Cay - Tea, which one can find literally on every corner, black, and relatively strongAyran - Yet another famous turkish drink, salted yogurt, supposedly the national drink of Turkey at all.Kahve - The turkish version of Coffee, one should sip carefully at the end as the coffee powder stays in the cupSu - Water, essentially…

Art for free: SALT Istanbul

In Istanbul art can literally be found at every corner, nevertheless there are some hotspots for art in the city, one of them is the Istiklal Caddesi, the main shopping street on the European side of Istanbul. And one of the major contributors is SALT.

SALT Beyoglu - Art & Culture for freeSALT Beyoglu is situated in an outstanding six-story 19th century building almost in the very heart of Istiklal. Due to SALT this building is nowadays more like a cultural complex rather than just an art gallery, especially due its multi functionality which allows SALT to host a very diverse and rich cultural program covering basically everything from displays of contemporary art, over audiovisual screenings to talks. The exhibition and displays of modern and contemporary art are spread over three floors, providing variety and also the option for huger exhibitions. Here one can find the current program of SALT Beyoglu.

More than just a place for ArtOn top of hosting a variation of arts and cultur…

Antique & Flea Market in Bomonti

Every Sunday people gather in a normally rather ordinary parking lot in the Bomonti area to hold an antique & flea market. There are more than 200 workbenches put together offering whatever one can or can not imagine. From simple older pieces of any kind of household item, toys, cutlery, jewelleries, any kind of accessories, clothes, records, books, furnitures, decoration and so on to the very special and rare things one always wanted to have for the own collection.

Antique Market from Locals for Locals The marketeers are locals, so is the vast majority of the visitors, at least for now. Fingers crossed it stays like that, as it provides a certain unique atmosphere of a real turkish market with a lot of chatting, discussing and of course negotiations. Nevertheless the economic purpose of the flea market does not seem the main reason for the people, they all seem to take it more as a social event, what creates a quite unique atmosphere, a cozy street neighbourhood one.

And before yo…

Turkish Handicrafts Exhibition for free

Turkish handicrafts exhibition for free
Everyone who is interested to see, or even make, Turkish handicrafts in Istanbul should take a look at this hidden gem. The Caferaga Medresesi is a center for education with focus on Turkish handicrafts, the name Medresesi refers to the label for educational institution during the Ottoman period, Medresseh. Since a mere 15 years this special school, which was built in 1559, is a touristic centre run by the Turkish Cultural Service Foundation showing a broad variation of Turkish Handicrafts. Spread over 15 exhibition and class rooms, a big salon and a garden handicrafts like marbling, ceramics, jewelry or calligraphy are shown, but also taught, made and sold. Meaning besides being taught how to make traditional handicrafts in workshops or buy some of them, it is also possible to just visit the exhibits and enjoy a drink - like the typical Turkish tea cay - in the calm garden. 
And besides being free the Caferaga Medresesi is just a few steps down …

Viewpoints in Istanbul: Around Galata

The area around Galata, at the end of the main shopping street of Istanbul: Istiklal - serves basically two major viewpoints. Unfortunately they are both not for free, but nevertheless quite worth the view and at least with the latter option it is cheap and you get something for your money. And they are quite close to each other, both located in the southern part of Beyoglu.

Viewpoint Galata Tower The well known sight of the area, the Galata Tower, provides a nice view of Beyoglu and the historical district Sultanahmet. The downside is, normally there are even queues of people waiting to get in, and there is an entry fee of 10 TL. Alternatively one can reserve a spot in the restaurant which happens to be in the tower, to enjoy the view accompanied with some good food, but be prepared, the food price charges the view also. 

Viewpoint Konak CafeThe other option is the Konak Cafe, yet another viewpoint in Istanbul which is not for free, but at least it is easier to get in, and way cheaper…

Real Dervish Sema Ritual in Istanbul for free

As you may know, dervish lodges, madrasas and similar institutions and their rituals were outlawed during Ataturk's secularization campaign but the current AKP government has softened the rules, allowing for institutions like Yenikapi to reemerge. It was completely restored a few years ago and is quite beautiful. And more importantly it regularly host a whirling dervish ceremony, a sema, a sufi whirling

An authentic Dervish experience in IstanbulSo if you seek out the real thing, you should attend one of the dervish ceremonies held by the Mevlevi Sufi Lodge at the Fatih Sultan Mehmet University Istanbul. That one is not a dervish ceremony which is put on for tourists in various location around the sightseeing spots, but the real thing, a real authentic ceremony by a real Mevlevihane (Mevlevi Sufi Lodge). 
The Sema Dervish Ritual is normally held every two weeks on wednesdays, the actual dates can be found in the calendar of performances.The performance starts punctual and you shou…

Istanbul for free!? Yes, almost.

Istanbul, one of the most vibrant cities of this planet has a lot to offer, for every taste.

Unfortunately Istanbul can also easily crack ones budget, with high entry fees and relatively high prices when it comes to food and culture. Therefore I gonna try to loosely point at some free things to do and experience in Istanbul, or at least almost free or cheap, for the budget traveler and everybody who is interested in experiencing the beauty and life of Istanbul with ease. Also I will give one or the other advice about visiting Istanbul in general and whatever may be interesting or useful while being in Istanbul.

All the posts will only cover my own personal experiences and findings, comments and tips are therefore more than welcome!

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