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Istanbul, Turkey

Spanning Europe and Asia, exotic Istanbul is one of the world's most fascinating cities. Domes and minarets enhance the skyline. In the old Stamboul area, traces remain of every city built since the community was established over 600 years before Christ. Once Rome's eastern capital, Istanbul was also the center of the huge Ottoman Empire. Landmarks include Hagia Sophia, once Christendom's greatest church; the Blue Mosque with its striking Iznik tiles; Topkapi Palace, containing a sultan's ransom of treasures; Chora Church with its Byzantine mosaics; and the Grand Bazaar, the ultimate shopping experience. Explore Condé Nast Insider Tips for Istanbul




Istanbul, Turkey

Off the Beaten Track


Sahaflar Carsis - The Book Bazaar - Booklovers will delight in the Sahaflar Carsis, the second-hand book bazaar located between the Grand Bazaar and the Beyazid Mosque. One of the oldest markets in Istanbul, it is built on the same site as the book and paper markets of the Byzantine era and was the main book distribution center during the Ottoman Empire. Ancient volumes and many out-of-print books can be found here.



Customs


Like many other cultures, Turks fear the evil-eye. For this reason, they often wear the Nazar Boncugu, a blue bead used as a talisman to protect against the evil eye. The blue bead which looks like an eye, is said to ward off negative energy and jealousy as it looks straight back into the eye of the spell caster. Although traditionally made of blue glass with white and yellow or white and blue circles inside, more modern Nazar beads come in a variety of colors.