Les Clefs D'Or
Les Clefs D'Or

Your Key To Istanbul, A Fairy-Tale Place in History, 2020 Les Clefs d’Or Award Nominee – Turkey

“If the world was only one country, Istanbul would be its capital.” Napoléon Bonaparte (1769-1821)

Istanbul, the unique city that lies on two continents, Asia and Europe and fulfils all desires with its priceless beauty and history… For thousands of years Istanbul has become the symbol of greatness, magnificence, royalty, glory and elegancy. It has been a fairy-tale place in history. Today, Istanbul is one of the world’s most fascinating, exciting and attractive cities, offering a thrilling experience with its breath-taking natural beauty, rich historical and cultural heritage, luxurious accommodation facilities and the variety of social activities.

Throughout history, Istanbul has become the capital of three empires – Roman, Byzantium and the Ottoman – in its at least two-millennium-old history. Constantly on the move and thrillingly hip, Istanbul is also one of the most exciting metropolitan areas in the world. The economic and financial heart of Turkey and the biggest producer and importer of art, culture and entertainment, Istanbul amazingly keeps expanding. Thus, the city has become an open-air museum with its marvellous historical buildings, including magnificent imperial palaces, dozens of summer palaces, mansions, pavilions, kiosks, fountains, mosques, churches, synagogues, fortresses, towers and hammams. Additionally, there are also many art galleries, museums, exhibitions, festivals and special events. It has many natural beauties, such as the Bosphorus, forests, parks, and islands worth seeing. Istanbul also hosts many hip and trendy districts, cafes, bars, restaurants and night clubs on the shores of the Bosphorus and all around the city to enjoy delicious meals and have a great time, as well as the luxury residential and shopping districts as well.

You may easily reach to these glorious attractions from Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul’s unique location and you might be the part of this amazing historical journey.

My Favourites in Istanbul

I love to discover the old part of the city as a member of Les Clefs d’Or Concierge which you can find more historical places and more cultural things you may enjoy. One of the most fantastic area in Istanbul is Golden Horn area in Balat. Along with narrow streets and colourful houses, you may find local restaurants with friendly service staff and some nice traditional shops. I would recommend Smelt & Co Restaurant where you can dine in a local and cosy atmosphere. They serve traditional Aegean cuisine in their kitchen.

Anyone visiting Istanbul should visit the Grand Bazaar at once. Grand Bazaar is one of the most attractive traditional covered bazaars in the world. The 559-year-old Grand Bazaar is one of the most exciting shopping experiences. This ancient covered market is one of the largest in the world containing more than 4,000 of shops selling anything from jewellery to silk garments and from carpets to leather. During your visit in the Bazaar, “Dönerci Şahin Usta” will be the best döner that you can eat in Istanbul which is right next to the “Kılıççılar Door” with door number 20.

My other suggestion would be Pandeli restaurant which is one of the oldest restaurants dating back to the 1st World War and it is in the historical Spice Bazaar. It impresses you with the atmosphere and the great flavour of the food when you step in the restaurant.

Spice Bazaar – which was founded at 1660 during Ottoman reign – is also another must – see place where you may find variety of spices from all over the country.

Golden Horn is one the few places where three different religions meet in terms of the cultural heritage of the world. You may find the oldest and most magnificent synagogues, churches and mosques.

Ahrida Synagogue located in Balat near the Golden Horn, built by Jews of Ohri (Macedonia) more than 550 years ago and recently renovated during the Quincentennial Celebrations in 1992, the Ahrida Synagogue is known foremost by its boat-shaped bimah.

Ecumenical Patriarchate is the capital of the former Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire because of its historical location as and its role as the Mother Church of most modern Orthodox churches, Constantinople holds a special place of honour within Orthodoxy and serves as the seat for the Ecumenical Patriarch.

The Süleymaniye Mosque is an Ottoman imperial the Third Hill of Istanbul, Turkey. The mosque
by Suleiman the Magnificent and designed architect Architect Sinan. An inscription specifies the foundation date as 1550 and the opening date as 1557. The mosque is located at the highest end of the city of Istanbul. It is designed to glorify the sultan.

Museums & Attractions

Dolmabahçe Palace built in 19th century and it is one of the most glamorous palaces in the world.  It was the administrative centre of the late Ottoman Empire with the last of Ottoman Sultans was residing there.  It is located in Besiktas and 10 minutes away to Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul by walk.

Topkapi Palace is a large Palace which was used by the Ottoman Sultans and administrative headquarters between 15th to 19th centuries.  Topkapi Palace has an amazing soul, traditional & religious examples of many cultures and historical overview.  This Palace is located at Fatih and 20 minutes away to Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul by car or bus.

Hagia Sophia known as the Ayasofya Museum, was the greatest Christian cathedral of the Middle Ages, later converted into an imperial mosque in 1453 by the Ottoman Empire, and into a museum in 1935.It is considered one of the greatest and most beautiful buildings in history and it holds historical significance as a culminating feature of the Christian era Roman Empire and stands as a monument to artistic and architectural achievement.  This stunning attraction is located in Fatih and 20 minutes away to Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul by car.

The Basilica Cistern, or Cisterna Basilica, is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city.  This historic place hosts hundreds of thousands of people in each year. The Basilica Cistern is located in Fatih and 20 minutes away to Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul by car or bus.

Sultan Ahmed Mosque, known as the Blue Mosque by many tourists because decoration of its bluish interior.  It is the most important mosque of Istanbul standing next to the Byzantine Hippodrome in the old city center.  This mosque is located in Fatih and 20 minutes away to Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul by car or bus.

The Galata Tower, called Christea Turris by the Genoese is a medieval stone tower in the Galata/Karaköy quarter of Istanbul, just to the north of the Golden Horn’s junction with the Bosphorus.  They called the tower as “Christea Turris”, or “Tower of Christ”. The Genoese were involved in trade with the Byzantines and the tower was used for the surveillance of the Harbor in the Golden Horn.  After the conquest of Istanbul by Mehmet II, it served to detect fires in the city. This tower’s height is 67 meters and it was built in 1348.

The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with 61 covered streets and over 4,000 shops on a total area of 30,700 m2, attracting between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily.  The Grand Bazaar is located in Fatih and 20 minutes away to Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul by car or bus.

Second largest church of the Eastern Roman Empire, following Hagia Sophia, Hagia Irene was built on top of an older temple, out of wood.  This place is located in Fatih and 20 minutes away to Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul by car or bus.

The Chora Museum is renowned worldwide for its well-preserved mosaics and frescoes. It presents important and beautiful examples of East Roman painting in its last period. The idea of depth in mosaics and the moving style in figures are of outstanding artistic significance in the Middle Ages, foretelling the Renaissance period.

The name “Kariye” originated from ancient Greek word “Khora “which means countryside and changed into a Turkish word because the old church and monastery remained outside the walls of Constantinople. Chora Museum was built during the reign of Emperor Iustinianos in the 5th century. Repairs and additions have changed the original plan considerably. Today’s building is from the 14th century.

The superb Archeology Museum showcases archaeological and artistic treasures from the Topkapı collections.  Housed in three buildings, its exhibits include ancient artefacts, classical statuary and an exhibition tracing İstanbul’s history.  This place is located in Fatih and 20 minutes away to Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul by car or bus.

Balat is a down-to-earth neighbourhood of narrow cobbled streets and colourful houses, where hip cafes and cutting-edge galleries sit next to old-school neighbourhood grocers. Buildings like the Greek Ecumenical Patriarchate basilica, synagogues, and Byzantine churches attest to the area’s cosmopolitan past as a centre for Jewish, Greek, and Armenian communities.

Meet the Author
Sinan Benzonana

My name is Sinan Benzonana - a hotelier since 2008. I am 29 years old, born and raised in the beautiful city of Istanbul. I consider myself a goal-oriented and people-oriented person, dedicated to high levels of guest satisfaction. With extensive knowledge in Istanbul social life, dining arena and entertainment offerings around the city, I can be defined as a confident Istanbul local – a go-to person when it comes to suggestions about having the best time in the city.

My daily routine is serving guests both on phone and face-to -face in an extensively busy environment. My daily tasks include working with a multi-line phone system, interacting with vendors, and assisting customers to carry out their requests.

Over the years, I have earned several awards for my performance as a Les Clefs d’Or Member at Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul – including The Employee of Third Quarter (2019). I was also chosen as “The Most Charismatic” employee among the whole team in 2019. I truly enjoy working with people and providing them with the best possible experience that I can offer.

Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul

Dating back to the 17th century, Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul is the one and only Ottoman Imperial Palace and Hotel on the Bosphorus where Sultans once lived. The building had different formations including a waterside summer villa and a marble palace. After a complete restoration and with the addition of a modern hotel building including elegant rooms, restaurants and meeting venues, the hotel opened in 1991 as an accommodation and event venue managed by Kempinski, Europe’s oldest luxury hotel group.

Being a landmark, Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul has 310 rooms, including 20 suites in the hotel and 11 suites in the historical palace. With its splendid style, superb location, fascinating view and resort ambiance it is a real Istanbul icon. Since its opening, it has seen countlesseminent figures passing through its doors, including government delegates, royal families, world stars and celebrities. Moreover, it continues to be the iconic place to host the most prestigious and extravagant events, meetings and weddings in Turkey with having the beautiful indoor and outdoor venue alternatives. Since its opening, the royal-born continues to be the symbol of luxury combined with legendary Turkish hospitality and impeccable service dedicated to excellence. Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul is also very proud to be appreciated and awarded via many leading local and international valuable authorities, publications and guests.


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