Published: October 2010FREE CITIES
Free Istanbul
Photo: Istanbul
Fountains like the one at Sultan Ahmet Park attract many visitors.
Text by Daniel Bortz and Caitlin Etherton
Photograph by Dave Yoder

Istanbul is located in the middle of...everything. A three-sea treasure trove of sights, sounds, and tastes, it bridges the gap between Europe and Asia, East and West, old and new, afternoon prayer and after-dinner nightlife. As Turkey’s largest city and seaport, it encourages one to wander—to be surprised by tumbling baskets of exotic spices, street-side barrel organ melodies, underground cisterns and swirling mosque interiors that make you feel like you’re floating in some Mediterranean blue dream of a Turkish poem.

Soaring minarets, colorful bazaars, 25 Byzantine churches and 400 fountains are a testament to the Ancient Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans, all hopelessly attracted to the beauty and position of this ancient city. With the help of our city guide of free activities, describing everything from tulip-filled parks to Topkapi Palace, you can make your way through the streets of Istanbul free as a bird—kuş gibi özgür.

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