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There are innumerable city-guides to the great metropolis of Istanbul, all of them brimming with practical, touristy information about lodging, exchange rates, transportation, dining, toilet etiquette, etc. Most also have at least a few pages devoted to primary tourist sites and suggested itineraries.
Then there is Strolling Through Istanbul by Hillary Sumner-Boyd and John Freely. For Istanbul, who's few square miles are more steeped in history than the sum of the western world, STI is the only single-volume book small enough to stuff in your fanny pack that entices and enlivens the traveler with detailed descriptions of the city's numerous and fascinating attractions. STI's absorbing anecdotes, vivid histories, and abundant artistic perspectives peel away layer upon layer of the ordinary to reveal the extraordinary character of the city. Everything is covered, from the dizzying heights of the ancient Haghia Sofia and the entrancing mosaics of St. Savior-In-Chora to the incredibly ar
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This book goes far beyond the "go here, then there" style of most tour guides, it is the only such book that I find myself dipping into at random just to enjoy the delighful descriptions of one of the world's most fascinating and colorful cities, coupled with amazing historical tidbits that bring the city's ancient history into immediate contemporary focus. Even if you never visit Turkey and never intend to, this book will bring the city to life and perhaps make you anxious to visit. I found this book by accident and was immediately enchanted. It features many walking tours with commentary on what you will see, but I found the most enjoyable way to use the book was to strike out at random and stop whenever I got tired or saw something interesting (which in Istanbul is only about three times per city block). I would then locate myself and find the relevant section of the book and read up on where I was, preferably while sipping Turkish tea and munching on baklava. For those less physically adventurous, I would suggest going to the Galata Bridge, finding a tea shop about halfway across, and then just browsing through this book while observing the Asian and European halves of the city from midway between them. Istanbul is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities on Earth and nobody can possibly find all her secrets in one visit, or from one book - or for that matter, within the space of a single lifetime. This is where to start, it will whet your curiosity and expand your sense of wonder.
Strolling through Istanbul is a journey of One Thousand and One Nights in several days. It teaches you literally everything you want to know about this city of two continents. It is very strong in architechural history and yet gives you a personal sense of the city. As a former resident on Istanbul, it is accurate in every sense and conveys the magic of the "jewel of the empire". Each chapter reflects a different tour of the city or, a portion of the city to explore. Whether searching out Byzantium, Constantinople or Istanbul, the reader is never disappointed.
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