Everywhere in the Turkish capital is evidence of civilizations that tried to tame it. From the Romans to the Ottomans, this tumultuous city has seen it all, and its architecture, cuisine, and customs reflect that reality. Here, Christianity and Islam have their touchstones, and the cliché that “East meets West” at the Bosporus is a truism.
Rudy tries to avoid buying a Turkish carpet—he admits he’s powerless to visit Istanbul without returning home with a rug—but, as usual, he fails. Prowl some of the Grand Bazaar’s 2,000 shops and spend some time with a professional shopper who teaches travelers the fine art of haggling. And can those Turkish carpets tell stories? Many do—stories of love and despair are woven in wool and color.
Rudy gets steamed and scrubbed in a 16th century hammam, or public bath, and tours some of the world’s great buildings—Topkapi Palace, the Aya Sofia, the Blue Mosque, and the downtown Spice Market. Be hypnotized by Whirling Dervishes, charmed by the Iznik art of ceramics, and learn how to buy a . . . carpet.