Port of Istanbul
Cruising and Travel

The City of Istanbul is Turkey's gateway to thousands of archeological sites, ancient cities, historic places, and natural scenic wonders. The Port of Istanbul is an exciting, colorful city with diverse social, cultural, and commercial characteristics. It contains not only traditional Turkish restaurants, but an increasingly diverse offering of international cuisines. Visitors can see pop concerts, opera, symphony, ballet, and theater year-round, and they'll find an exciting contemporary nightlife. The Port of Istanbul offers far too many attractions and activities for travelers than can be described in this article. Please visit the Port of Istanbul's tourism website for more information.

The Port of Istanbul enjoys a temperate climate, but it is located in a transition zone between the oceanic and dry subtropical climate zones. Summers are hot and humid, and winters are wet and cold with frequent snowfall. Humidity is high throughout the year at an average of 79%, exaggerating the actual temperature no matter what time of year. Snowfall is common between December and March, and it can be heavy. The Port of Istanbul is also a windy city. Temperatures in the Port of Istanbul range from an average high of over 28 °C (83 °F) in July and August to an average low of 3 °C (37 °F) in January and February.

The European side of the Port of Istanbul boasts the world-famous 6th Century Hagia Sophia built for Emperor Justinian and the largest enclosed space in the world for over one thousand years. One of the world's most significant architectural structures, it has been the inspiration for many Ottoman mosques. Originally built in the period of Emperor Constantine I in the 6th Century, it served as a church for 916 years and then as a mosque for 481 years. In 1935, it was turned into a museum. The tombs of Sultan Selim the Second, Sultan Mehmed the Third, Sultan Murad the Third and his heirs are rare and precious examples of the Ottoman tomb tradition. Today, the Hagia Sophia is a fascinating museum.

The Topkapi Sarayi Palace Museum was home to Ottoman emperors for 300 years, and it houses a weaponry display, Islamic and Christian relics, rugs, and fine china. Topkapi Palace was the heart of the Ottoman Empire, and its hundreds of rooms housed the monarch, his wives and concubines, children, and servants. Visitors will want to arrive when it opens because it is one of the most popular sites in the Port of Istanbul, and a limited number of visitors are allowed in at one time. You can explore the harem, grounds, and courtyards on your own. The Treasury in the third courtyard contains a breathtaking exhibit of gems, gold, and works of art.

Another worthwhile attraction in the Port of Istanbul'is the Spice Bazaar, also called the Egyptian Bazaar. It is one of the oldest covered markets in the Port of Istanbul, dating to the 17th Century, in an area of the Port of Istanbul where its Oriental character survives. When it was established, thousands of spices from the Far East and curative herbs and remedies were sold there, although most products came from Egypt. It is still one of the best places in the Port of Istanbul to find spices, herbal teas, and traditional Turkish foods. The Spice Bazaar houses 86 shops including those that still sell natural herbal medicines. An open-air market and the Mehmet Efendi Coffee Roasters shop are adjacent to the Spice Bazaar, so shoppers can get everything they need.

The Asian, or Anatolian, side of the Port of Istanbul also contains many worthwhile sites for travelers. The Beylerbeyi Palace, built by Sultan Abdulaziz in the mid-1800s, lies under the Bosphorus Bridge. Camlica Hill, which is one of the Port of Istanbul's highest hills, offers a public park and cafes and wonderful views of the Port of Istanbul. The eight Princes' Islands to the southeast of the Port of Istanbul are wonderful refuges from the crowded city. They offer villas, picnic and scenic areas, bicycle and horse carriage trails, and ruins of a monastery on Buyukada Island. Visitors can dine or take tea inside the Maiden's Tower before or after taking the tower tour.

No visit to the Port of Istanbul is complete without a trip to one of the Port of Istanbul's baths. The Suleymaniye Bath was built by Sultan Suleyman in 1550 for his own use. It is the only mixed bath in the Port of Istanbul, and the sexes are mixed, making it the ideal bath for families. The Cagaloglu Bath was built in 1741. The last Ottoman bath to be built in the Port of Istanbul, it has separated sections and is the bath most frequently visited by tourists. The Cemberlitas Bath was built in 1584. Located in the middle of the Port of Istanbul's finest monuments, it has separated sections for males and females and offers Turkish and oil massage.

Travelers who want to visit the Port of Istanbul by sea can find a long list of scheduled cruises on the Cruise Compete website.

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