Seriously guys, not because I am a patriot, but because of all the culture and the uniqueness of my country, I recommend everyone should go to this exotic, different land that was once the center of the modern world. But, when you do go to Turkey, don't go into nightclubs where they offer you sex and girls. These operations are by the super powerful Mafia and they will charge you what they want, and will walk with you to the ATM until you get the money. You will end up paying $1000 dollars for 2 beers. Go to nightclubs you find in magazines, and that are recommended by your hotel (Reyna is one of the best spots for the summer, for example. Cahide and Black for the winter). But, if some guy on the street calls out 'girls, girls, girls', run for your life. By all means, Turkey is a very european country and you will find yourself a beautiful girl if you are smart and that is what you want, but remember it is a muslem country and don't run around like a headless chicken looking for prostitutes. It will get you in trouble. Now to my original review:
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Osman, the founder of the Ottoman Empire, is rumored to have had a dream once. A dream in which a green tree grew out of his chest, and spread itself throughout the world (the Lords of Horizons, by Jason Goodwin). This was no mere dream, as his descendents built an empire that spread over 9km^2 of land throughout Asia, Africa and Europe. His great-grandson, Fatih the Conqueror, delivered the final blow at the last remnant of the once powerful Byzantine Empire, Constantinople. Renamed as Istanbul after its capture, this great city became the capital of the modern world at that time. It had a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic population, which mainly consisted of the Turks, the Greeks, the Armanians and the Jews. Besides its many great masques, it also had a number of Greek and Armanian churches, quite a few of which still remain erect today.
Istanbul is still the great city that it once was. A part of it is in Europe, while the other part is in Middle East -- to cross from one continent to the other, you take a 30 minute ride through the Bosphorus Bridge. This is possibly the only city in the world that perfectly blends the Middle-Eastern and the Western cultures. It's nightlife is almost as wild as New York, but the days should mostly be spent in Museums or Masques.
Personally, I have never gone to Istanbul for its night life. To me, its main attractions are the historic places. There still remains rocks from the walls that would not fall for months under cannon fire, and where thousands of people died valiently to protect their city. There are many legends revolving around the capture of Istanbul, like the one in which the last Byantine Emperor threw out his insigna and joined the last line of defense, to be never heard from again. And one in which Hasan, a mountain of a Turk, climbed up the walls in spite of the arrows and placed the first Turkish flag in Constantinople, moments before his own death. Although tradition required Fatih to allow his soldiers to ransack the city for 5 days, he would put an end to it at day two. He spent the rest of his life rebuilding Istanbul.
There remains many treasures from the conquest of the Turks, most of which can be seen at the Topkapi Palace built by Fatih himself. The turkish empire was rich at its peak, so rich you won't believe your eyes. There are bowls filled entirely with shining green emeralds, and the thrones are decorated with thousands of gems and other valuable rocks. The infamous Topkapi Diamond is about as big as a fist, and glitters at the slightest touch of a light ray.
Blue mosque is the epitomy of Islamic arcitecture, with its 4 towers standing erect against Muslem Tradition(4 towers were seen as an act of pride). You can also find many mixes of western and islamic art, if you visit the Dolmabache Palace. If you are lucky enough, the Harem will the open for Tourists, and you will be able to gaze at the large rooms where Sultans involved in debauchery. At a certain period of time in history, even the slightest glance at the harem would have earned you a quick death, unless you were a woman or a eunuch.
Istanbul is great for its cheap food and historic places. I can't seriously recommend its nightlife, because places like Bodrum and Kusadasi offer much better entertainment. My recomendation to you is to go to Istanbul for its historic sights, and take a bus to Bodrum for the clubs.
(Note: I have used 2 historical sources in writing this review, one is Lords of Horizons by Goodwin, and the other is Ottoman Centuries by Lord Kinross)
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