Strolling Through Istanbul: The Classic Guide To The City – Book Review

Agia Sophia
Agia Sophia by night. Istanbul. by El poed

Turkey, and especially Istanbul, are favorite travel destinations for many people. Because of this, I was more than willing to review this revised travel guide. Sadly, I was not up to the task. It took months to get through the first 100 pages, and having not been to the country/city (nor planning to visit anytime soon), I was bogged down by the intricate details it contained. Giving up all hope of finishing the guide, I offered it to my sister-in-law as she and her husband have been to Istanbul and found it truly an amazing place.

I was exceptionally pleased when I opened my e-mail inbox recently and found a book review of ‘Strolling Through Istanbul: The Classic Guide To The City’. Deb Martens succeeded where I had failed – and I thank her whole-heartedly for her contribution.

Strolling Istanbul

About the Authors:

John Freely is the author of over thirty travel books and guides including Istanbul: The Imperial City. He lives in Istanbul, Turkey.

Hilary Sumner-Boyd (1910-1976) was professor of humanities at Robert-College-Bosphorus University. His magisterial work, The Seven Hills of Constantinople: A Study of the Byzantine and Turkish Monuments of the City, was unpublished at the time of his death in 1977 and is now being prepared for publication by Bosphorus University Press.

*Editor’s Note: Text courtesy of Palgrave Macmillan.

The Review:

O, lucky is the traveler in a foreign land who has not only an historian but an architect as guides!

O, lucky is the traveler in a foreign land who has not only an historian but an architect as guides! Hilary Sumner-Boyd & John Freely’s updated Strolling through Istanbul: The Classic Guide To The City (2010) is that guide. Conveniently divided into manageable sections of the city, it’s easy to see as much or as little of the architectural wonders, past and present, as one wishes. Focusing not only on the “must see sites” of the Blue Mosque, Haghia Sophia, Topkapi Palace and the Covered Market, one is taken down the streets and alleyways of the little known and sometimes no longer existing splendors of old. Who wouldn’t want to know that they are passing through the Gate of the Spoon-Makers?

Turkey by Randy Martens Photography

More importantly, for those of us who are not particularly scholarly, this guide explains the historical and hence, architectural periods of the city – Byzantine, Latin and Ottoman. How many of us have grown tired of viewing churches, museums and such because we didn’t understand the significance of what we were seeing – yes, another mosaic of the Virgin with Angels. Ending the guide is a listing of all the rulers of the city (as are known) in date order with which you can memorize and amuse (or bore) your friends and relatives! That alone should make one wish to read or at least carry this fascinating guide!

Buy now: Strolling Through Istanbul: The Classic Guide to the City on Amazon.

Editor’s notes: This article contains affiliate links. The book was also received compliments of Palgrave Macmillan/Tauris Parke Paperbacks for review.

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Discussion »

  • #1inka

    I am living several months each year in Istanbul and am always interested in reading what others think of the city and recomment what visitors should go to. Without having read the guide here is one of my favorite places: Magic Ice, the only ice museum in Europe in a warm country. Less known and truly enjoyable.

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