This entertaining and informative guide takes you on a journey back to the era of the Grand Tour, when Istanbul was a favourite destination for enterprising travellers.
Istanbul is a city of secrets. Learn how to gain access to the heavily guarded Topkapi Sarayi and find out the truth behind all those rumours of the charms of the concubines in the sultan's harem, and the eunuchs who guard them. Discover how to haggle with the expert salesmen in the bustling bazaars, learn what excitement await you in a Turkish bath and attend the strange rituals of the whirling dervishes. Or watch the sultan, dressed in all his finery, taking to the Bosphorus in his splendid barge.
You'll find it impossible not to be in awe of the magnificent palaces and sublime mosques of the Ottomans, and the great artistic and architectural achievements of the Byzantines who preceded them - not least the majestic basilica of Ayasofya.
Along the way you will encounter an exotic cast of characters, ranging from the sultan and his harem, the grand vizier holding court in the Sublime Porte and swaggering janissaries to self-important ambassadors, wealthy merchants, muftis in their tall, white turbans, Muslim women hidden behind their veils and a splendid array of nationalities from every corner of Europe and the Ottoman Empire. For the more daring, you can join the crowds attending an execution or taste the forbidden delicacies on offer in the most risqué coffee houses and opium dens. There has never been a better time to visit the remarkable city of Istanbul.
'The latest addition to a cleverly conceived series of travel books … the history of Istanbul is painlessly, playfully and concisely conveyed'