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Cultural Treasures

With a diverse history of Ottoman and Roman occupations, Istanbul has a rich history that can be experienced through a number of stunning sites throughout the city. Visit staggeringly beautiful icons like the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque along with some under-the-radar gems. Shop for souvenirs at the city’s famous bustling markets. And experience the best authentic culinary traditions, including a cup of near-addictive Turkish coffee. The Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul is well situated for all of these adventures and more.

Day

1

MORNING
  • Excite Your Senses at the Spice Market.

    Originally built in the 17th century, this marketplace from the Ottoman era still serves thousands a day. Sample sweet Turkish Delight, purchase honey and dried fruits, and take in the fragrance of a rainbow’s worth of colorful, exotic spices at the many stalls.

MIDDAY
  • Visit the World-Famous Hagia Sophia.

    With its giant buttresses, epic dome and towering minarets, the city’s most iconic landmark has a complicated history: It was first a Greek Orthodox basilica, then an imperial mosque and now a museum. The upper gallery includes stunning mosaics that are not to be missed.

  • Have an Authentic Turkish Lunch.

    Near the Hagia Sophia, the friendly owners of Hünkar restaurant serve a variety of local classics, including stuffed grape leaves, grilled cheeses and many types of kebab. Don’t miss the grilled shish kebab and stuffed eggplant.

AFTERNOON
  • Shop for Antiques at the Grand Bazaar.

    The city’s largest market has over 4,000 vendors across 61 streets. Shopping among them is a bit chaotic in an exciting way. Browse bright traditional fabrics, copper pots and lanterns. Peek into alleyways, where artisans are hard at work. Sip tea at the various stalls.

EVENING
  • Have an Elegant Dinner with a View.

    At Atelier Real Food at The Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul, an open kitchen prepares French rotisserie chicken and lamb, rib-eye steaks and other dishes with farm-to-table ingredients that can be enjoyed with an excellent view of the glistening Bosphorus.

Day

2

MORNING
  • Visit a Medieval Church with Character.

    Catch the Golden Horn ferry to see one of Istanbul’s most gorgeous sites, the Chora Church, constructed in the 11th century. The Byzantine church is covered in kaleidoscopic mosaics and frescoes that depict the lives of Christ and the Virgin Mary.

MIDDAY
  • Visit a World-Class Modern Art Museum.

    Opened in 2004, the Istanbul Modern Museum contains two floors of contemporary works by Turkish artists like Nuri Iyem, who paints surreal portraits, and non-Turkish artists like Italy’s Monica Bonvicini, who investigates the relationship between gender and space.

AFTERNOON
  • Sweat Out Your Toxins in an Authentic Hammam.

    The unforgettable spa at The Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul features a traditional hammam that is modeled after a 16th-century bath. Bathe in the separate men’s and women’s facilities or book a full-body massage in the Couple’s Hammam Suite.

  • Take a Pre-Dinner Stroll.

    With popular sights like the Dolmabahçe Palace and Hürrem Sultan Hamam just 5 minutes away from the hotel, there’s a lot to explore in the area surrounding The Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul. Soak in the city’s culture as you work up an appetite.

EVENING
  • Have a Turkish Dinner with a Penthouse View.

    Overlooking the exciting Beyoglu neighborhood, 360 Istanbul serves modern Turkish meze plates from the penthouse of a 19th-century apartment building. Don’t miss the rigatoni with four varieties of mushrooms, the lamb and pistachio dumplings, or the slow-roasted duck with cherries.

Day

3

MORNING
  • Have a Lavish Turkish Breakfast.

    One of the city’s most charming cafés, Lokma serves an extensive spread of eggs, olives, tomatoes and cheese over traditional coals in a quaint, rustic setting with views of the water. Make sure to try the sahanda sucuklu yumurta (fried eggs with beef sausage).

MIDDAY
  • Visit the Ruins of an Ancient Arena.

    For over 1,000 years during the Byzantine era, emperors spent days at the Hippodrome Square watching chariot races. Parades and other celebratory events were held in the center, which was a major sporting and social venue.

  • Admire the Gorgeous Blue Mosque.

    Built in the early 17th century, the stunning Sultan Ahmed Mosque, better known as “the Blue Mosque,” features five breathtaking cascading domes and six slim minarets. The inside is covered in many hand-painted blue tiles, hence the nickname.

AFTERNOON
  • Experience Delectable Turkish Coffee.

    Turks first began preparing coffee in cezve, long-handled copper pots, in the 16th century. The grounds are brewed at a low boil with sugar for a rich, slightly sweet flavor. Try an authentic cup at the popular Mehmet Efendi, which has been in business since 1871.

EVENING
  • Sip Inventive Cocktails Alfresco.

    At the sophisticated Bleu Lounge at The Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul, you can enjoy an exclusive selection of malt whiskeys, Cognacs and creative cocktails. Do as the locals and enjoy the view of the Bosphorus with a shisha.