By Justin Mays:
Anyone who has heard of Istanbul once in their life knows well which are the most popular places and tourist attractions. You have to visit the Aya Sofia, go up to the Galata Tower, sign up for a Bosphorus cruise, walk around the Dolmabahçe Palace, enter the Topkapi Palace, go down to the Basilica Cistern, shop at the Grand Bazaar and endless of more things.
But there are always those who prefer to do activities a little further away from the tourist scene, which is also understandable. There are indeed several activities, such as those already mentioned above, that are essential, but imagine that you travel to the metropolis for many days or that you live here. After a while, it's easy to get tired of the tourist beat and want to seek refuge in places less traveled.
If this is your case, keep reading. Here we will talk about four hidden, or not-so-hidden, gems in Istanbul where you can appreciate and enjoy the metropolis from another angle. They are four places with a lot of charm, captivating and that you will surely not regret visiting. We hope you like them!
During the last few years, Nevmekan Sahil has become one of the most important cultural meeting points in Istanbul. It is such a multifaceted space that it is almost impossible to put a single label on it. But to give you an idea, in Nevmekan Sahil you can find a library with more than 50,000 books, an exhibition hall, a restaurant, and beautiful views of the Bosphorus.
This space, which is located in Üsküdar, near the coast, was set up in 2018 in the old district matrimonial office building. The main goal of the mayor who inaugurated it, Hilmi Türkmen, was to make it the new symbol of Istanbul's culture, and it has been so ever since. Although the building does not attract particular attention from the outside, its interior is truly spectacular. Without a doubt, spending a few hours in Nevmekan Sahil is one of the best plans that one can do in winter in the metropolis.
Fortunately, Istanbul has many parks, gardens, forests, and other green areas. Some of the best-known are the Belgrade Forest, Maçka Park, and the gardens of the Dolmabahçe Palace, among others. To this list, we would also like to add the Atatürk Arboretum, a park dedicated especially to trees located in the Sarıyer district.
In 1949, Professor Hayrettin Kayacık of Istanbul University's Faculty of Forestry proposed to create this space, so that students of the university's Forestry Department could use it for research purposes. If you want to walk through this beautiful natural park, you should know that you have to pay an entrance fee of 20 Turkish lira. But we assure you that it is worth it!
Likely, you have never heard of this site, but we are sure that it will surprise you. In the Beykoz district, about 25 kilometers from the center of Istanbul you can find Polonezköy, a Polish town that you cannot miss if you live in or travel to the metropolis. It was formerly known as Adampol and was founded in 1840 to host Polish refugees who fled their country after it was invaded by Russia, Austria, and Prussia.
With the help of the Ottoman Empire, the refugees were able to start a new life near Istanbul, making their town a benchmark for environmental protection in this area of Turkey. Currently, many residents come to Polonezköy during the weekend to disconnect from the noise of the big city. There, one can find hotels, restaurants, and many green areas.
Büyük Valide Han
Finally, we present you one of the most special and mysterious rooftops in Istanbul. It is located near the Grand Bazaar, in the district of Fatih, and was declared a historical heritage of the metropolis in 1983. It is Büyük Valide Han, a building built during the 17th century that has one of the most famous terraces in the city, popular mainly among tourists and photography lovers.
The building is special in many ways, but what makes it a unique place is its old aesthetic, almost demolished. In addition, it is a perfect place to observe Istanbul. From the top of Büyük Valide Han, you can see a wonderful skyline of the city. Keep in mind that although many of its attendees are tourists, it is not an extremely popular place among travelers, so you will still be able to appreciate the initial essence of this space.
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