Skip to main content

If you love making every day an adventure then a Lumia is the perfect companion. But what about the perfect cities to have those adventures? Well, when it comes to amazing sights, sounds, people, places and sheer creative buzz, you’d be hard pressed to beat Istanbul.

It’s one of the most magical, historical places on earth 

Once upon a time this was Byzantium. Markets. Fishermen. A myriad of people trading in the only city in the world that lies in two continents – Asia and Europe. Close your eyes and imagine Persians storming in to take the city in 512 BC. Or Roman soldiers marching through the streets by 79AD.  A place later destroyed and lovingly rebuilt.


A true phoenix city, reinvented as Augusta Antonina, Constantinopolis, Constantinople. It would to fall again to the Ottomans. It only became Istanbul in 1930.

Women ruled here once, okay? 

In the mood for a sixteenth century bathhouse? (hamam) Go to Çemberlitaş Hamamı. This one is really special – a hamam commissioned by Nurbanu Sultan, the most-loved concubine (then wife) of Selim II (who would later drown, drunk, in his own bath.) She ran the palace in ‘The Rule of Women’ – while men enjoyed the joys of the harem and wine.

Designed by the architect Sinan at the height of his fame, imagine an overhead dome fitted with ‘elephant eyes’ that catch the light from all angles.

It’s a musical melting pot

East truly meets west here and music is a joy. In Taksim Square in Beyoglu there are people of all ages on the streets with musical instruments – young girls with violins, old men with accordions. If you don’t want to go to a nightclub, there are a wealth of clubs and Turkish taverns (meyhane.)

All types of music here – foot-tapping fasil (gypsy) or Kurdish jazz. Or experience live music at Hayal Kahvesi or experimental performers at Peyote. Not to mention funk and electronica. Or catch yourself a whirling dervish dancing. It’s all going on.

Dusty and dull just isn’t an option

Think you are immune to cathedrals? It’s all stone and statues, surely? Not Hagia Sophia. Dating from the 6th century, The Imperial Gallery was where the Empress and the women around her looked down on the masses.

There is a fairytale quality to the place. Marble and mosaic throughout. A fountain in front, turrets like space age rockets. Where else in the world can you see mosaics of the Virgin Mary and Arabic calligraphy? James Bond came here for a guided tour in From Russia with Love and will return in this year’s Skyfall. If it’s good enough for Bond….

The bazaar is not to be sniffed at

Istanbul is a treat for the ears and the eyes, but the nose is never neglected. The Spice Bazaar (Mısır Çarşısı) at the end of Galata Bridge will entice you but you will be lucky if you are able to see it all in a single day. Anticipate nearly 100 stalls overflowing with cinnamon bark, whole rose buds, caviar, saffron, candies and cardomoms – to name only a few.

The whole pace is a riot of colour and aroma. You will be offered Turkish delight and charmed by stories from people selling love tea who will tell you that if you make it for someone, they will fall in love with you.

But whatever magic happens, you will fall in love with Istanbul…

Image credit: David Spender + Julian Stallabrass + Martin Terber + Kimtaro