The south side of the European part of Istanbul, is the oldest part of town, where the weight of the Muslim presence is evident not only by the concentration of mosques as also by the way women dress, with head covered, long, loose and dark clothing. Is not uncommon find face veiled women wearing the black chador that blurs the contours of the body, but where only the eyes stand out, often highlighted by lush make-up.
This is the most popular image of Istanbul, with its bazaars where in addition to the daily use of products from inhabitants, can also find spices, dried fruit, pastries, cheeses, olives, etc … being easy to get lost in the narrow tangle streets constantly crowded with people, an incessant coming and going.
At the center of this area is the Grand Bazaar (Kapali Carsi), clearly intended for tourists, and the Spice Bazaar (Misir Carsisi), more modest but with more character.
But it is in the streets surrounding these sites that is possible to find the more characteristic and authentic environment of a city full of traditions, resulting from a mix of cultures and peoples who passed through here and culminating in a very own identity and that is evident from the Turkey of today.
Compelling points of Sultanahmet district is the Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii), the Aya Sofia a legacy of the Byzantine Empire and Basilca Cisterna, a complex built in the basement that once was part of the water supply system, also heritage of the Byzantine Empire and date of 532 AD.
One of the best kept secrets in one of the side streets in the Spice Bazaar area is the Büyük Valide Han, a building built during the Ottoman Empire to accommodate merchants and now home to artisans who insist on carrying out their trade despite the state of degradation that was voted. But what makes this special place is the view we have of the city of Istanbul from the terrace through which is accessed by a dark, narrow staircase after giving a symbolic contribution of one lira, the man who guards the entrance and receives broad smile.