The visitor to Istanbul has not only museums and well known historic and natural sights available to him. There is also an extremely exciting night life as well as many chances for shopping, especially for silver, copper and gold jewellery and, of course, carpets.
Nearly everything is possible in Istanbul. So, on the following pages, we will give you some ideas.
Big cities offer the best chance to see and try all the different variations of Turkish cooking. Excellent experienced, traditional restaurants are ready to serve you. A traditional Turkish meal together with friends or members of the family can last up to 5 hours. You will get a rich selection of different starters (meze) followed by a main course. Informal conversation begins in an open and friendly atmosphere and normally leads to the telling of poems and stories about the good old times while all the time the national drink ?Raki? is served in huge amounts. You always should take your time when eating out in a good restaurant. Turkish cooking, with its variety, taste and uniqueness, is comparable to French or Chinese cooking.
Big Cities of the Ottoman Empire
Huge Turkish towns consist of old parts, modern parts and the outskirts and settlements which have developed around the town. Most visitors prefer to discover the old parts in the centre, which are mainly divided into areas of specific handcrafts. So there are areas for copper craftsmen, hat and shoemakers, tailors, spice and tool sellers, basket makers and broom makers.
From Belgrade to Damascus the big cities of the Ottoman Empire had be separated into several districts for administrative purposes. In these districts, different groups - quite often ethnic or religious minorities - would live and work. These quarters were joined together for local services like the fire brigade, police and local government. In the centre of the old part people would meet by the administration buildings and religious meeting points to gather and discuss 'current affairs' or just to relax.
In the centres of the old towns, churches and synagogues, mosques and other educational establishments were built close together. Today, the modern areas of towns look the same all over the world with their skyscrapers and luxury shops. They do in Turkey as well. However, the introduction of apartment blocks has brought many big changes into the lives of Turkish people.
The close relationship of contact from house to house has changed into contact from flat to flat or floor to floor. The once small, one-to-three storey buildings with their surrounding gardens have had to make way for huge skyscrapers where ten to fifteen families now live all together - and Turkish families are huge! This has led to problems, like how to share the costs for heating or repairs, which, quite often, can lead to problems even within the same family. Within three decades, a system of living with different laws, regulations and administrative methods had to be established. This is still complicated, even today. Life in these communities is quite often shown on Turkish TV and in sketches. An old traditional phrase, which has become more true than ever says: “Before buying a new home, win the neighbour”.