I still remember the excitement of my very first visit to Istanbul in June 2015. The city immediately swept me away with its fascinating aura and I swore that I had to come back for more in the future!
Unfortunately, I only had 2 days to taste of its peculiar culture, the cuisine and its unicity. This left me with a longing feeling that actually never went away.
Istanbul can be described with many adjectives, certainly the first one that comes to my mind is “huge”, immediately followed by extremely “multicultural” and “diverse”.
Everywhere I looked, I could clearly see the melting pot of people, colors and traditions all mixed together in a fascinating and mystical way.
When I think about it, I come to the conclusion that, in a way, Istanbul it is “forced” to do so for his own history and geographical position that puts it at the borders between two continents, two religions, two cultures.
In the streets you see people with different features, legacy of an empire that stretched across three continents and that traded from east to west from China to Spain and from south to north India to Russia.
This enormity is gathered just outside the airport that lies about 50 km from the center.
The road runs continuously in the midst of dense neighborhoods with mansions and skyscrapers many still under construction, a symptom of an economy that despite some slowdown is still very much active.
When driving on the Golden Horn along the 7 km on the south and the north, the houses are often stacked haphazardly in a grid of streets.
In my opinion, Istanbul owes its importance to its strategic location , the Bosphorus Strait , in between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara , and it is the only city in the world to straddle two continents , Europe and Asia .
Its thriving past has left traces of great archaeological and architectural , that makes it one of the most visited and fascinating world . And one that people could not easily forget.
On the mini cruise on the Bosphorus, I was able to see endless neighborhoods, old elegant palaces and monuments, mixed with the modern texture of the city, extending for kilometers on both sides of the Strait to the Asian and European sides.
The streets and squares are always full of people and cars.
With important buildings like the majestic Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, in Istanbul I really did experience the unique atnosphere of
a multicultural city, with its churches, mosques and synagogues, no wonder that it has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
What strikes me the most is how the differences of culture, races and religions, actually managed to naturally fuse and create a mix of harmony that I’ve never seen in any other city I’ve visited.
Istanbul is definitely not just “another” tick on the belt for the tourist.
Istanbul is a place where you have to take it easy, slowly discovering its fascinating old streets and relaxing in one of the cafes sipping the famous turkish tea.
And then, take the modern trasports and immerse yourself in the modern, busy area.
Only this way you can really experience the word “mixed culture” in its pure form.
by CLELIA MATTANA