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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Shanghai "world's largest cargo port, a tourist destination with great historical landmarks"

Shanghai (Chinese: 上海) is the largest city in China, and one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world, with over 20 million people. Located on China's central eastern coast at the mouth of the Yangtze River, the city is administered as a municipality of the People's Republic of China with province-level status.

Originally a fishing and textiles town, Shanghai grew to importance in the 19th century due to its favourable port location and as one of the cities opened to foreign trade by the 1842 Treaty of Nanking. The city flourished as a center of commerce between east and west, and became a multinational hub of finance and business by the 1930s. However, Shanghai's prosperity was interrupted after the 1949 Communist takeover and the subsequent cessation of foreign investment. Economic reforms in 1990 resulted in intense development and financing in Shanghai, and in 2005 Shanghai became the world's largest cargo port.

The city is a tourist destination renowned for its historical landmarks such as the Bund and City God Temple, its modern and ever-expanding Pudong skyline including the Oriental Pearl Tower, and its new reputation as a cosmopolitan center of culture and design. Today, Shanghai is the largest center of commerce and finance in mainland China, and has been described as the "showpiece" of the world's fastest-growing major economy.

Yuyuan Garden

Yuyuan Garden is believed to have been built in the Ming Dynasty, more than 400 years ago. The exquisite layout, beautiful scenery and the artistic style of the garden architecture have made the garden one of the highlights of Shanghai.

Yuyuan literally translated means Happy Garden. It is located in the center of Shanghai's Old City, a few blocks south of the Bund. It has a total area of about two hectares (five acres) and more than 40 attractions The inner and outer gardens were both built in the Ming Dynasty classical style, with numerous rock and tree garden areas, ponds, dragon-lined walls and numerous doorways and zigzagging bridges separating the various garden areas and pavilions.

The garden covers a significant space and includes a few halls and other buildings of interest. Its cultural relics include: century-old furniture, calligraphy and paintings of famous artists, clay sculptures and brick carvings, some inscriptions and couplets.

One of the highlights of the garden is the Exquisite Jade Rock. It is a 5-ton, porous, beautifully-shaped, grotesque rock, which is said to have been carried from Taihu (Tai Lake) in Wuxi, Jiangsu province. The rock is characterized by its wrinkled appearance, slender shape, translucent nature and numerous holes eroded by water. An interesting legend goes that the rock was found some 1000 years ago, and it was originally one of Song Emperor Huizong's private collection before it found its way into Yu Garden.

The surrounding bazaar area provides good shopping opportunities, where traditional Chinese products and gold and jewels are on sale.

Jade Buddha Temple of Shanghai

Jade Buddha Temple in Shanghai is an active temple, with 70 resident monks at the last count. The 70 monks who live and work there can sometimes be seen worshiping.

The temple was built between 1911 and 1918 in the style of the Song Dynasty (960-1279), with symmetrical halls and courtyards, upturned eaves, and bright yellow walls. The exterior is readily identifiable by the bright saffron walls.

Inside, the centerpiece is a 1.9-meter-high white jade Buddha, which was installed here after a monk brought it from Burma to Zhejiang Province in 1882. The seated Buddha, encrusted with jewels, is said to weigh about one thousand kilograms. A smaller, reclining Buddha from the same shipment lies on a redwood bed. In the large hall are three gold-plated Buddhas, and other halls house ferocious-looking deities. Artifacts abound, not all on display, and some 7,000 Buddhist sutras line the walls.

The Bund of Shanghai

The Bund is one of the most recognizable architectural symbols of Shanghai. The word ‘bund’ derives from an Anglo-Indian word for an embankment along a muddy waterfront and that is what it was in the beginning, when the first British company opened an office there in 1846. It became the epitome of elegance during Shanghai’s history as a city of trade. Now many attractive new constructions have been erected in addition to the historical buildings. A 771-metre long retaining wall for flood control was built. Atop the wall is a spacious walkway for sightseeing. Paved with colorful tiles and dotted with flower beds and European-style garden lights. It is a good place for a leisurely stroll and a view of the Huangpu River.

The Bund, which extends from Jinling Road in the south to the Waibaidu Bridge over the Suzhou Creek in the north, is on the western bank of the 114 kilometer long Huangpu River, a tributary of the Yangtze River.

The Suzhou Creek cleanup project is estimated to be costing 20 billion yuan or 2.42 billion US dollars. By 2010, hopefully the river will once again be clean enough to encourage marine life back to the Bund area.

Looking out on the river, various cargo vessels, speedier tourist ferries and other locally owned boats, some of which remind visitors they are still in a developing country, can be seen navigating the Huangpu. Visitors might need reminding, with the towering skyscrapers, the Oriental Pearl Tower, the neon lights indicating the offices of top world brands and European architecture surrounding them.

The commemorative square at the junction with Nanjing Road features a fountain and a statue of Chen Yi, who in 1949 became the first mayor of Shanghai in the communist era. Opposite the Customs Building is an electronic clock that shows standard times in various world localities on a water-like curtain. All around are Chinese wisterias, gingko trees and azaleas. Buildings in Greek, Renaissance and Baroque styles can be seen along the west of the Bund.

The wharf for pleasure boat rides is also at the end of Nanjing Road. A boat ride on the Huangpu River will take visitors down to the estuary of the Yangtze River and back in just over three hours.

Shanghai Wild Animal Park

There are many rare and endangered animals at the Shanghai Wild Animal Park, at Sanzao Town in Nanhui District, about 35 kilometers from the city center. The park is one of China's biggest wild animal parks and covers an area of 153 hectares. There are over 200 rare species and over 10,000 animals from all over the world, including giraffe, zebra, white rhinoceros and hunting leopards. Some indigenous animals under special protection include giant pandas, golden monkeys, south-china tigers, and Asian elephants and many others.

The Shanghai Wild Animal Park is divided into two areas: one for walking, and one which is accessible to buses. There is a herbivore zone, a free zone, aquatic bird lake, bird zone, animal kindergarten, pet monkey park, rare animal park, animal performance zone, sea lion performance zone and other spots in this Park.

The walking area allows a close look at many gentle animals on foot. During a leisurely walk you will see Australian kangaroos, Asian Sika deer, African ring-tailed lemurs and Latin American yellow and blue macaws and more.

The bus enclosure takes you among zebra, yak, deer, elephant and some other fierce beasts. Be forewarned though: the bus park is not suitable for all, especially young children or those with a delicate temperament. Sometimes, you may encounter unpleasant even gruesome sight.

There is also a special animal zoo which is a hit with small kids where they can have a close-up look at the lovely animals.

Huangpu River Cruise

can be called either the Chun Shen River or the Huang Xie River. The upper reaches of the Huangpu River rise from pristine Dianshan Lake with the scenic "Grand view Garden" nearby. The river, yellow in color and ice-free all the year round, totals 114lilometers long, and averages 400 meters wide and 9 meters deep. The cruise boat meanders eastward along the golden waterway to the intriguing "three-layer waters" at the Wusong Mouth, confluence of the three and half hours over a distance of 60lilometers, with beautiful view emerging one after another. On a starry night, gazing from the boat, you can see the stately row of buildings at the Bund. This quintessential example of multi-national architecture gives off an aura of color, painting the night skyline. The splendid array of structures resembles misty ice palaces in a riot of colors-golden yellow, pure white and aquamarine blue. Constantly changing colors mesmerize

Shanghai technology museum

Being a base for popular science education and an attraction for fun-seeking tourists, Shanghai Technology Museum holds six exhibition halls whose exhibits try to unravel the mystery of biology , anthropology , paleontology and various other science subjects. Subjects ranging from the space dome to a single cell , from science theories to its fructification in real life have been covered by the advanced acoustics and lighting skills. Four special movie theaters featuring giant screens , circular screen , four-dimensions and space-style screens respectively constitutes the biggest of its kind in Asia. More than 250000 articles are collected here.

Expo Shanghai 2010

World Expo Shanghai 2010, on the way of preparation, will be held from May 1 to October 31, 2010 in Shanghai, China. It is the first time that World Expo is due to be held in China. And this is the first World Exposition to be held in a developing country, which may offer opportunities for people around the world to learn more about China.

Being the first World Exposition on the theme of “City”, Exposition 2010 attracts governments and people from around the world, focusing on the theme of "Better City, Better Life." The organizers predict that this World Exposition will attract more than 70 million visitors with total investment reaching to RMB 30 billion, making it one of the largest scales in the history of World Exposition.

Shanghai M50 Art Community

There’s a thriving artists’ quarter on the banks of the Suzhou Creek, and the place to see it is No. 50 Monganshan Road, known as Shanghai M50 Art Community. Once an old textile mill, the complex now houses galleries, studios, art spaces, and some cafes and restaurants, and this is where you’ll find the best of Shanghai’s contemporary artists as well as emerging talent.

It’s an exciting place to wander. The mill closed in 1999, and the alleys and buildings clearly reflect their industrial past. In 2000 local contemporary artist Xue Song was attracted by the possibilities of the area, and low rental. He moved in, and soon other artists, such as Ding Yi, Qu Fengguo, Wang Xingwei set up studios here too. Which is very fortunate for the rest of us, otherwise it may have been demolished, and this wonderful area which both nurtures new talent and showcases established artists, may never have existed.

Before long galleries such as the ShanghArt Gallery, Eastlink Gallery and ArtScene rented space here, where they display some of the most exciting modern art from M50, Shanghai and China. The galleries are able to foster the connection between their artists and international buyers, and have successfully launched a number of now-famous local artists. Today graphic designers, architectural workshops and environmental art design companies also rent space, but the real buzz and energy of the place comes from the juxtaposition of well-known artists and aspiring talent. It really is very exciting to wander through the sometimes chaotic area, in and out of working studios and display spaces, both large and small, and to see the work that is being produced here.

There are about 100 artists in residence, and with such a range you can take something home from a few dollars up to megabucks for the work of the internationally famous. The range of media is equally varied, and includes paint of every description, sculpture using a wide variety of materials, photography, textiles and experimental work.

This is a fun place to visit, and offers an interesting contrast from the more traditional aspects of China that visitors often concentrate on. And the best of the work being produced here is absolutely stunning.

City God Temple

City God Temple, originally called Jinshan Temple, is located in Huangpu area near the most bustling Yuyuan Market. It was built in the years of Yongle (1402—1624) Emperor in the Ming Dynasty. With a 600-year-long history, City God Temple is one of the most important scenic spots in Shanghai.

Nowadays, City God Temple has an area of over 1000 square kilometers. There are many companies around it, and here is supposed to be the original bustling areas in Shanghai. The local products and specialties selling here attract many tourists and businessmen from all over the world.

With wide effects both in and out of China, City God Temple is a wonderful resort that every tourist in Shanghai will pay a visit. And the Municipal Government of Shanghai has started a plan to change City God Temple into a large modern shopping center for tourists and named it “Yuyuan Commerce Center” since 1991. Most buildings in this center were built earlier than 1911 and they all keep their original ancient style up to now. Generally, the roads in that area are a bit narrow and the shops in the commerce center are laid out row upon row, selling a variety of goods with their own characteristics. And these shops are always crowded. However, the original styles and features of this ancient city have been well kept.

It is really a beautiful attraction with traditional and modern styles that tourists should not miss.

Shanghai Art Museum

Situated in Nanjing West Rd and against the backdrop of the prosperous People’s square , Shang Hai Art Museum , together with Shang hai Grand Theater, Shanghai Museum and Shang hai City-planning Museum constitutes a landmark as well as a cultural hub. Built on the former Shang Hai Race Club in 1933 ,the museum belonged to the architecture genre of 30s England. With 12 exhibition halls and a collection of more than 8000 articles , the museum makes the visitors stand in awe the moment he or she enters the grand lobby. Watching the quaint columns ,ascending the wide steps with your hands caressing the bronze horse head statues and browsing on the masterpieces by different artists can be a guide down the memory lane of this city .

Zhujiajiao Water Town

Zhujiajiao, Known as "the Venice of Shanghai", is a well-preserved ancient town in water country in Shanghai typical of southeast China. During Three Kingdom as appeared as a village. Nowadays old streets and architecture in the style of Ming and Qing periods can be found and local customs characteristic of water country can be observed. Zhujiajiao is noted for its archaic water country scenery typical of southeast China – old town, peacefulness, tranquility and elegance.

Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall

If you’re stunned by Shanghai today, go to see how it will look in 2020. The Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall is a short walk across Renmin Square from the magnificent Shanghai Museum, and is well worth a visit, far more interesting than its name suggests.

The centerpiece is an enormous scale model of the city centre that takes an entire upper floor. It shows current and future development, and it’s mind-boggling. There are raised walkways for viewing the model from different angles, and the detail is fascinating, showing clearly what’s planned, and what already exists. It’s also a very good introduction to Shanghai, and gives visitors an excellent perspective and introduction to the city. The building itself is attractive, and includes space for temporary exhibitions.

With five stories there is, of course, a great deal more to see than the vast scale model. As you’d expect, it’s all very high-tech, with some great displays, interactive exhibits and walk-throughs, complete with sound, light and vision effects, illustrating different aspects of Shanghai’s urban planning. The exhibits are detailed and thorough, and provide a wealth of information on how the city’s planners see the future. This huge and exuberant city has always done things a little differently, and here too they are way ahead of the curve.

There’s a small model of inner Shanghai in the entrance, not to be confused with its big brother upstairs. You’ll find shops, tea houses and restaurants in the basement, presented as a reproduction of a 1930s Shanghai street. Other floors house the displays, both passive and hands-on: how the planners see the airport developing, the port, all kinds of transport, including the magnetic levitation (maglev), subway, and light-rail trains that are going to change the face of the city, greening the city, leisure activities, managing the waterways and much more. There are photos of colonial and contemporary Shanghai on the mezzanine, which demonstrate just how far this city has come in a short time, and a cafe and art gallery on the fifth floor. Temporary visiting exhibitions vary in their content, including visiting international art exhibitions, and there are also displays concerning the World Expo, due in 2010.

City planning is a hot topic throughout the world, and the centre is themed around "City, Human, Environment and Development", themes which concern city dwellers from any country. The glimpse of present and future Shanghai can provide much food for thought, as well as enjoyment and a good overview of this often overwhelming city.


Pudong New Area, located on the eastern side of the Huangpu River, is a special economic zone established in April 1990. This area used to be a vast farmland where the locals grew vegetables and planted fruit, however, it now has transformed into the fastest developed international economic area in China with looming skyscrapers and hi-tech international enterprises. Pudong consists of four parts in its 523 sq. km: the Lujiazui Finance and Trade Zone, the Jinqiao Export Processing Zone, the Waigaoqiao Bonded Zone, and the Zhangjiang Hi-tech Park Zone. In the last few years, Pudong has witnessed a massive influx of foreign investment. Good investment environment and flexible policies have since attracted more international groups and Chinese mainland companies to move their offices to Pudong.

Pudong New Area is also an increasingly popular tourist destination in China. The main attractions here include the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, Jinmao Building, Century Park, Science and Technology Museum.

Fuxing Park

Fuxing Park offers n rare known part of Shanghai, which offers an stark contrast with the hustle and bustle of this great metropolis. The park wall seemingly fences off all the noises, busyness of the modern city and creates a quite, undisturbed enclave for the local people. In the park, old women at their 60s or 70s in pajamas belting out Chinese opera, middle-aged women dance to the accompaniment of melody in the 70s, Mao-era suited men take their caged birds for a stroll, kids playing kites. Along the Plane tree shaded paths, old couples enjoy walking hands in hands. The pond is a paradise for fishing lovers, who fill their days waiting at the pond side for bites.

The park was originally a private garden in the Ming Dynasty. The French took it after the Opium War and had added more French elements to it, having making it the only French-style garden in Shanghai. However, little of the colonial-era remnants left, and today the park become a very popular entertaining place for the locals

Shanghai Old Street

Shanghai Old Street is an ideal place to discover what Shanghai was like in the old days.

Fangbin Road, aka. "Shanghai Old Street" is adjacent to Yuyuan Garden. It runs in an east-west direction from Zhonghua Road to Henan South Road, with both ends marked by decorated archways.

The 825 meter-long street can be divided into eastern and western sections.

The eastern section retains characteristics of residences in the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and early Republican days (1911-1949). The houses on both sides of the street are fitted with checkered windows, and shop fronts have wooden boards, balustrades and swing doors. Their roofs have upturned eaves, protruding corners and laced drain-pipes. The western section is filled with Ming (1368-1644) and Qing style architecture. Black tiles and white-washed walls, red columns and upturned eaves, showcase the style of old Shanghai.

St. Ignatius Cathedral

St. Ignatius Cathedral or Xujiahui Cathedral is the largest Roman Catholic cathedral with a history of over 90 years. It is located in the Xujiahui district to the north of Shanghai Stadium.

The cathedral was originally built in 1906, but was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution; it has just recently been restored to its original beauty. As a missionary center, the cathedral grounds once included a library, an orphanage, a college, a publishing house, and its own weather station. Today only the church, part of the school, and the recently reopened library remain. Its vast interior of altars, stone columns, Gothic ceilings, stained glass windows, and paintings of the Last Supper and Stations of the Cross are yet another chapter in Shanghai's living history of European architecture. Services are available every Sunday morning.

Oriental Pearl TV Tower

Towering high above Pudong new area, the Oriental Pearl TV Tower has been the outstanding landmark of Shanghai since its completion in 1995. The tower is 468 m high, the highest in Asia and the third highest in the world, next to the 553–meter-high CN Tower in Toronto, Canada, and the 540-meter-high TV Tower in Ostankino Tower in Moscow, Russia.

The tower includes 15 spheres of different sizes at different levels creating an artistic conception of "large and small pearls dropping onto a jade plate". It has become a symbolic piece of architecture and a favorite sight for tourists in Shanghai.

There is a revolving teahouse and a sightseeing platform, which can accommodate 1600 people in the largest ball. Here visitor can get a panoramic view of the Bund and Pudong New area.

There are 6 elevators within the tower. Five are installed in the three columns and one runs between the height of 250 meters and 341 meters. One of the five elevators is double-decked. Two medium-sized elevators, accommodating 30 persons each and running at a speed of 7 meters per second, cover the distance from the bottom of the tower to the highest sphere in 40 seconds.

Grand Theatre

Shanghai Grand Theater is located to the north of People's Square in the heart of the city. Since its opening on August 27, 1998, the Shanghai Grand Theatre has staged operas, musicals, ballets, symphonies, chamber music concerts, spoken dramas and various Chinese operas.

The construction of the Grand Theater lasted four years from 1994 to 1998. The theater covers an area of 11,528 square meters, with 10 stories, two underground, six making up the theatre and two above. The Grand Theater houses three stages: a 1,800-seat main stage for ballets, operas and symphonies, a 600-seat medium theater for chamber orchestras and a small 200-seat auditorium for dramas and fashion shows.

The elegantly decorated lobby covers approximately 2000 square meters. A large chandelier, shaped like six pan-pipes, is suspended in the lobby. The floor is made of a rare marble called "Greece Crystal White". The floor has piano keyboard patterns, together with the pillars and the stairs, making the lobby seem full of rhythms.

Sightseeing on Shanghai World Financial Center

Shanghai World Financial Center is the highest building in Shanghai, it creates Shanghai new landmark with Oriental Pearl TV Tower and Jinmao Tower. It takes about 1 minute from first floor to 95th by the elevator with a speed of 10 meters per second.

In the 100th viewing pavilion, visitors can see the peak of Oriental Pearl TV Tower and Jinmao Tower. In the 55 meters long viewing gallery, visitors can see the moving cars and passerby clearly through 3 transparent glass floors. The observation bridge atop the building will be the highest outdoor observation deck in the world.

Circus World

Covering an area of 2,2500 square kilometers, Shanghai Circus World has been renowned as "China's No 1 Circus World". Suited at Gonghe Xin Lu Road, it has been a popular attraction integrating circus, acrobatic, magic, dancing and music performances. Shanghai Circus World has the Acrobatic Field as its main body, Rehearsal Uxiliary Building, Animal House and Cultural and Commercial city as side installations.

Shanghai Cybermart

You can find any digital products of any brands in this mart. If you are a computer craze, you should take some time to visit. This huge mall is a cyber geek's dream come true, with stores selling everything from laptops and printers to mobile phones and MD and DVD players. International brands such as Apple, IBM, Sony, and NEC also have outlets here. Repair services are also available. Daily 10am to 8pm.

Nanjing Road

Nanjing Road is one of the most important commercial and tourist streets in Shanghai, which stretches from the bund to Yanan Xilu. It is a good place to learn the history and culture of Shanghai. About 18 billion yuna or 2.17 US dollar of Shanghai investment will be fed into the ambitious project to build the century old Nanjing Road into a first-class commercial destination in the next ten years. The Nanjing Road will be built into a leading world-famous commercial destination, like the Champs Elyees in Paris and Fifth Avenue in New York.

Dongtai Road Antique Market

Dongtai Road Antique Market, located in Dongtai Road in the Luwan District of Dongtai, a suburb of Shanghai, is a renowned outdoor market where one can find many "antiques" (Most are said to be fake!), yet one is inclined to forgive the vendors at this very special old flea market for any fakery, because Dongtai Road is the only remaining flea market in the Shanghai area that is still devoted to selling antiques.

Dongtai Lu Antique Market has character; here, amidst the trinkets and possible ersatz antiques, you will run across old people loudly playing cards, or slapping Mahjong tiles on tabletops to the accompaniment of shouts (Mahjong is a game of tiles for four players, though apparently based on a card game, where one typically plays so-called suits, as one does with mahjong, which has prompted some to suggest that the game is in fact based on a certain card game called Ma Diao). Many, if not most, of the flea market's stalls are run by women, who seem constantly to yak among themselves and with prospective customers, a further detail that adds flavor to Dongtai Road Antique Market.

In all there are 125 stalls here selling everything from curios and trinkets to furniture items and various other props that are peddled as genuine, ancient stuff from Shanghai's many old theatres.

Even if most of the "antiques" at Dongtai Road Antique Market are fakes, some are without doubt genuine, and who would want to miss the chance to pick up something really genuine from China's past, compared to the boatloads of stuff that arrive at the world's shores from China today?! The vendors at Dongtai Road Antique Market still sell birds, in spite of the bird flu scare of recent times. Also they add charm to the shopping experience. Don't forget to try and haggle over the price, if you see something that catches your fancy. The mid-afternoon heat, when things grow quiet and vendors begin to show signs of fatigue, is said to be the best time to strike a bargain.

Jinmao Tower

The Jin Mao Building symbolizes Shanghai emerging into the 21st century. It is the tallest building in the country and third tallest in the world; it hosts the tallest hotel ever built. With an east-meets-west design signifying Shanghai's emergence as a modern global city, Jin Mao follows the multi-use paradigm, offering retail shopping at its base, offices above, and the Grand Hyatt World's Highest Hotel occupying the upper 38 floors.

The Jin Mao building was designed by US architectural firm Skidmore Owings & Merrill, and was built by the Shanghai Jian Gong Group, the first Chinese national construction group to tackle such a large and significant project. The Jin Mao Building is a luxurious complex combining office space with commercial space, a shopping mall, and entertainment functions. The three basement levels house electric facilities, service facilities, parking spaces and a food court.

The Jin Mao building is a superb design, combining elements of traditional Chinese architecture and a gothic influence to produce this amazingly modern building. Architects designed the building around the theme of the Chinese pagoda and the number 8(the number 8 is considered extremely lucky by Chinese people): the lowest segment of the building is sixteen stories high and each succeeding segment is 1/8th smaller than its predecessor.

Two elevators with a speed of 9.1 m/sec. work to transport visitors in seconds from the first basement to the sightseeing floor. At this level, visitors have a far-ranged 360 degree view of new Shanghai.

Qibao Town

Located around 18 kilometers from downtown Shanghai, Qibao ancient town is a spiritual sanctuary, free from traffic jam, pollution, noise which now plague most of the modern cities we live. Built in the Five Dynasties Period around one thousand years ago, the town witnessed great development in the Song Dynasty and flourished in the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Qibao in Chinese means seven treasures and the town was so named for a legend go that there were seven treasures around the area, which were a Gold Lotus Scripture written by an imperial concubine of the 10th century, a Magic Tree, dating back to one thousand years ago, a Big Bell Floated from Afar, a Buddha Flown over from Afar, a Gold Cock, Jade Chopstick and a Jade Axe. But according to history, only four of them-the Gold Lotus Scripture, the Big Bell, Magic Tree, Golden Cock) actually once existed while two of the four(the Scripture and the Bell) have survived till today.

The old town occupies about two square kilometers, crossed by two water lanes. Around the water lanes, stand a large number of well preserved traditional houses, gardens, temples, shops and restaurants which define the place.

The old street in the heart of the tiny town is the epitome of old Shanghai. The street has been restored to its original look which is consisted of two sections, southern and western lesser streets. The southern part filled with traditional restaurants serving various tasty snacks is a paradise for gourmets. Old shops selling art crafts, antiques and calligraphy works occupy the western part. In this part visitors will find the Qibao Pharmaceutical stores, a-thousand-year-old shop, some fine tea houses, and Shadow Play Opera theaters.

The old, time-worn stone roads and narrow lanes left by the Song Dynasty while the temples, gardens, pavilions, houses has been well preserved from Ming and Qing Dynasty, which features black- bricked walls, elegantly decorated tiles.

Some places worth a special mention here include Cricket Hall, a place to dream times gone by, Tianxiang Restaurant which serves authentic local cuisine, Qibao Theater where you can enjoy many of the distinctive Shanghai Operas and much more.

The small town is a good place to explore Shanghai's grand past. When traveling there, watch out for the authentic flavors.

Shanghai Municipal History Museum

What a surprise this place is. You’d never guess that the rather drearily titled Municipal History Museum beneath the Oriental Pearl Tower provides such an wonderful and imaginative experience. Some people find it more fun than the tower itself, certainly it provides a great contrast between the modern Shanghai seen from the Tower, and the experience of old Shanghai below it.

Of course, Shanghai does have an exciting and interesting history. Here in the basement of the Oriental Pearl Tower the old city has been recreated, with an emphasis on the period between 1860 and 1949. For much of the time you are ‘in’ the streets, walking past or through everyday sights, and hearing the sounds. Sometimes life-size, sometimes scaled down, the streets and buildings are peopled with incredibly life-like models, and the re-creations are immaculate. Scenes include the ‘fun’ life of farmers (anything but!) and fishers, traditional stores, bars, the stock exchange, medicine shops, teahouse, a courtroom and even a beheading. There are dioramas of the river, the foreign concessions, the main streets, a video of the old racetrack, and along the way some genuine relics of the past, along with photos, film, and paintings.

In the first part of the museum there’s a wonderful transport collection – old trams (complete with life-size models of passengers and driver), rickshaws, a US Army jeep and vintage and veteran cars. Then follows several halls with dioramas, and evocations of the history of the city, some so well done that it’s hard to tell where reality begins and ends (people have been known to smile and nod to the barman!); foreign traders, opium and war, and daily life in the streets, all from the local perspective. The final section is a series of scale models of famous old buildings.

It takes at least an hour to walk through the imaginative displays and exhibits, (the area covers around and it’s an unforgettable experience, which can be enjoyed by the whole family. Audio guides are available, but information is provided in English as well as Chinese along the way.

Shanghai Museum

Shanghai Museum has been famous for its large collection of rare cultural piece. The museum now houses over 120,000 pieces of cultural relics in twelve categories, including Chinese bronze, ceramics, paintings and calligraphy, and artifacts.

Shanghai Museum is especially well-known for its collection of brozen pieces. The 1,200 square meter exhibition room has displayed more than 400 beautifully decorated brazen, which deliver a panoramic picture of China from 18th century BC to the 3rd century BC. The items exhibited include the bronze wine vessel, food vessel, musical instrument, water vessel, weapon and some other vessels from the Xia Dynasty (ca, 21st century B.C.) to the Warring States Period (221 B.C.) Visitors can also get a clear picture of what ancient silk looks like in the Seal Showroom. The room consists of 4 parts, and displays more than 500 pieces of seals that are works from the Zhou Dynasty(1024-256 BC to Qin Dynasty(1644-1911).

If you are interested in Chinese architecture, you should not miss the room showing Chinese furniture of the Ming and Qing dynasties. Over 100 pieces of various styles of furniture made in the Ming and Qing Dynasty were displayed. There are also some models of valuable furniture and wooden buried warrior figure of Ming Dynasty unearthed in the area around Shanghai. Stepped into the room, visitors almost feel like he is in a Chinese-style garden and mansion.

On the Arts and Crafts by Chinese Minority room, visitor can enjoy about 600 pieces of work of art, such as dress and personal adornment, dyed and woven embroidery, metal art ware, sculpture, ceramics, bamboo wares used by the minority. Different styles, remarkable color and creative conception embody the pursuit of happier life.

Other rooms here are Ancient Chinese Calligraphy Room, Ancient Chinese Ceramics Room, Ancient Chinese Jades Room, Ancient Chinese Numismatics Room and Ancient Chinese Paintings Room.

Children's Palace

The Children’s Palace is an interesting place to visit, and to enjoy great performances by kids. It is a training school, providing after school education to gifted kids. Children participate in a wide range of extracurricular activities including music, dance, art, model making, science, technology and computer science. Kids can attend one or two programs according to their own interests. All kids, 5-14 years old, can be accepted as long as they pass a simple examination and pay the tuition.


Shanghai has an extensive public transport system, largely based on buses, trolleybuses, taxis, and a rapidly expanding metro system. All of these public transport tools can be accessed using the Shanghai Public Transportation Card, which uses radio frequencies so the card does not have to physically touch the scanner.

The Shanghai Metro rapid-transit system and elevated light rail has eight lines (lines 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 9) at present and extends to every core urban district as well as neighbouring suburban districts such as Songjiang and Minhang. According to the development schedule of the municipal government, by the year 2010, another 4 lines (numbers 7, 10, 11 and 13) will be built, while extensions are also underway for lines 2, 6, 8, 9. It is one of the fastest-growing metro systems in the world—the first line opened in 1995, and as of 2009[update], the Shanghai Metro is the 11th busiest system worldwide. Shanghai also has the world's most extensive bus system with nearly one thousand bus lines, operated by numerous transportation companies. Not all of Shanghai's bus routes are numbered—some have names exclusively in Chinese. Bus fares are usually ¥1, ¥1.5 or ¥2, sometimes higher, while Metro fares run from ¥3 to ¥9 depending on distance.

Taxis in Shanghai are plentiful and government regulation has set taxi fares at an affordable rate for the average resident—¥12 for 3 km, ¥16 after 23:00, and 2.4RMB/km thereafter. Before the 1990s, bicycling was the most ubiquitous form of transport in Shanghai, but the city has since banned bicycles on many of the city's main roads to ease congestion. However, many streets have bicycle lanes and intersections are monitored by "Traffic Assistants" who help provide for safe crossing. Further, the city government has pledged to add 180 km of cycling lanes over the next few years. It is worth noting that a number of the main shopping and tourist streets, Nanjing Road and Huaihai Road do not allow bicycles.

With rising disposable incomes, private car ownership in Shanghai has also been rapidly increasing in recent years. The number of cars is limited, however, by the number of available number plates available at public auction. Since 1998 the number of new car registrations is limited to 50,000 vehicles a year.

The Maglev, with a top speed of 431 km/h (268 mph).

In cooperation with the Shanghai municipality and the Shanghai Maglev Transportation Development Co. (SMT), German Transrapid constructed the first commercial Maglev railway in the world in 2002, from Shanghai's Longyang Road subway station in Pudong to Pudong International Airport. Commercial operation started in 2003. The 30 km trip takes 7 minutes and 21 seconds and reaches a maximum speed of 431 km/h (267.8 mph). Normal operating speeds usually reach 431 km/h, but during a test run, the Maglev has been shown to reach a top speed of 501 km/h.

Two railways intersect in Shanghai: Jinghu Railway (Beijing–Shanghai) Railway passing through Nanjing, and Huhang Railway (Shanghai–Hangzhou). Shanghai is served by two main railway stations, Shanghai Railway Station and Shanghai South Railway Station. Express service to Beijing through Z-series trains is fairly convenient. A maglev train route to Hangzhou (Shanghai-Hangzhou Maglev Train) might begin construction in 2010. A high-speed railroad to Beijing is also in the works.

More than six national expressways (prefixed with "G") from Beijing and from the region around Shanghai connect to the city. Shanghai itself has six toll-free elevated expressways (skyways) in the urban core and 18 municipal expressways (prefixed with "A"). There are ambitious plans to build expressways connecting Shanghai's Chongming Island with the urban core. For a city of Shanghai's size, road traffic is still fairly smooth and convenient but getting more congested as the number of cars increases rapidly.

Shanghai has two commercial airports: Hongqiao International and Pudong International, the latter of which has the third highest traffic in China, following Beijing Capital International Airport and Hong Kong International Airport. Pudong International handles more international traffic than Beijing Capital however, with over 17.15 million international passengers handled in 2006 compared to the latter's 12.6 million passengers. Hongqiao mainly serves domestic routes, with a few city-to-city flights to Tokyo's Haneda Airport and Seoul's city airport. Hongqiao airport is about 10 kilometers west of the downtown. One of the airport's advantages is it is much closer to the city center than Pudong airport.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Capital of Great Ottoman Empire and European Capital of Culture for 2010

Istanbul (Turkish: İstanbul, historically also known as Byzantium and Constantinople; see names of Istanbul) is the largest city in Turkey and fifth largest city proper in the world with a population of 12.6 million. Istanbul is also a megacity, as well as the cultural and financial centre of Turkey. The city covers 39 districts of the Istanbul province. It is located on the Bosphorus Strait and encompasses the natural harbour known as the Golden Horn, in the northwest of the country. It extends both on the European (Thrace) and on the Asian (Anatolia) sides of the Bosphorus, and is thereby the only metropolis in the world that is situated on two continents.

In its long history, Istanbul has served as the capital city of the Roman Empire (330–395), the East Roman (Byzantine) Empire (395–1204 and 1261–1453), the Latin Empire (1204–1261), and the Ottoman Empire (1453–1922). The city was chosen as joint European Capital of Culture for 2010. The historic areas of Istanbul were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985.

Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya)

Famous for its impressive size, remarkable architecture and beautiful mosaics and frescoes, the massive ochre-coloured domed structure known as Hagia Sophia is one of Istanbul’s most popular attractions. It was commissioned as a cathedral in the 6th century and remained the most important church in Christianity for over 900 years. In the 15th century Mehmet II conquered the city and converted it into a mosque, adding the minarets and fountains. It functioned as such for the next 481 years until the founding of the secular Turkish Republic in 1934 when it was declared a museum. Hagia Sophia is one of the greatest Byzantine buildings in the world, and the vast interior, with its huge soaring dome, is extraordinary. The interior contains different features from its time as a cathedral and then as a mosque, including incredible Byzantine mosaics, icons and marble columns, a mihrab (niche indicating the direction of Mecca), and Islamic calligraphy inscriptions on the dome from the Ottoman period.

Suleiman Mosque

Below the University in Istanbul to the north, situated on a terrace surrounded by schools, baths, etc., is the Süleiman Mosque (1549-75), built for Süleiman the Magnificent by the great architect Sinan, who, under the influence of Hagia Sophia, carried mosque architecture to its greatest development; after the Selim Mosque in Edirne, the Süleimaniye is his finest achievement. The interior, dominated by its great dome (53m/175ft high, 26.5m/85ft in diameter), is notable for its harmonious proportions and unity of design (on the mihrab wall, beautiful tiles and stained glass). Behind the mosque is the burial ground, with fine türbes (tomb chapels), in particular those of Süleiman and his favorite wife Roxolana.

Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Camii)

The Sultan Ahmet Camii, commonly known as the Blue Mosque, with its tiers of magnificent domes and six graceful minarets is one of the most striking and immediately distinguishable structures on the Istanbul’s skyline. Constructed as an Islamic rival to the Hagia Sophia in 1609, it is one of the finest examples of Ottoman architecture and is still used by hundreds of worshippers. The interior is splendidly decorated with thousands of blue and white Iznik tiles embellished with traditional Ottoman flower patterns, and it is this special feature that gives the mosque its name. Its design of successively descending smaller domes, soaring columns and 260 stained glass windows leaves a lasting impression of graceful accord and open space. At the back of the mosque is a Carpet and Kilim Museum exhibiting antiques from all over Turkey.

Princes' Islands

A boat trip to the beautiful Princes' Islands is very rewarding. The nine islands (total area, known in Turkish as the Kizil Adalar (Red Islands) from the reddish tinge of their quarzite and ferruginous rocks, lie 19-28km/12-17mi southeast of Istanbul in the northeastern corner of the Sea of Marmara. There are several boats a day to and from Istanbul and Yalova. In antiquity the islands were called Demonnesoi (People's Islands); in medieval times their numerous monasteries earned them the name of Papadonisia (Priests' Islands). Under the Byzantine Empire they frequently served as a place of exile for deposed or disgraced members of the Imperial family

With their carefully tended gardens and parks, their first-rate facilities for water-sports, and their excellent roads, they offer a welcome change from the hectic pace of life in Istanbul. Their healthy climate, southern vegetation and variety of scenery make them a favorite resort of the more prosperous citizens of Istanbul. There is no motor traffic on the Princes' Islands, the chief means of transport being horse-drawn carriages, which can be hired for drives around the islands.

The largest island, Büyük Ada (Great Island), was known from the time of the Emperor Justinian II (sixth century) as Prinkipo: hence the name of Princes' Islands given to the whole group. The other islands, in order of size (with Greek names in parenthesis), are Heybeli Ada (Chalki; with copper deposits), Burgaz Ada (Pyrgos or Antigoni), Kinali Ada (Proti), Sedef Ada (Terebinthos), Yassi Ada (Plati), Sivri Ada (Oxia), Kasik Ada (Pitta) and Tavsan Ada (Neandros).

Horse Square

Adjoining the southwest side of Ayasofya Meydani in Istanbul extends Atmeydani (Horse Square), an open space more than 300m/330yds long which occupies part of the site of the ancient Hippodrome, begun by Septimius Severus in 203 and completed by Constantine the Great in 330. This was the center of Byzantine Court and public life, the scene of splendid games but also of factional conflicts (Nika Insurrection). Between here and the sea-walls on the Sea of Marmara (still largely preserved) were the Roman and Byzantine Imperial palaces with their churches and associated buildings.


Beyond the Treasury in the Hagia Eirene in Istanbul is the Harem (an Arabic word meaning "That which is forbidden"), the women's apartments to which only the Sultan, his blood relatives and the eunuchs had access. Part of the Harem is now open to the public (admission charge; half-hourly tours, 50 people max.). Apart from a few larger rooms, richly appointed, the Harem is a maze of narrow corridors and small - sometimes tiny - rooms, which have preserved little in the way of Oriental splendor. In imperial Turkey men might have up to four legitimate wives at a time; the Sultan was allowed seven. There was no limit on the number of concubines. Since 1926 monogamy has been enforced by law.

Topkapi Palace Museum

The Topkapi Sarayi, built by Mehmet the Conqueror as a Sultan's Palace, consists of a sprawling collection of buildings arranged around several interconnecting courtyards. Magnificently situated on one of the seven hills of Istanbul with uninterrupted views over the Bosphorus River and the Golden Horn, it was the seat of the Ottoman Empire for almost four centuries. Home to nearly 3,000 people, it served as royal residence, harem, state administration and military barracks. One of the most popular sections is the harem, once the quarters of about 300 women who were the sultans' wives and concubines, and their children. Visitors can view the apartments, halls and terraces of the harem, and see the lavish royal bedchamber and Imperial Hall. No expense was spared in decorating the palace and exquisitely designed rooms, intricately detailed fountains and gateways, and the splendid Treasury, housing one of the greatest collections of treasure in the world, afford insight into the opulent lifestyle of the sultans of the Ottoman Empire.

Turkish and Islamic Art Museum

The grand 16th century palace of the sultan’s Grand Vizier, Ibrahim Pasa, today houses the Turkish and Islamic Art Museum, containing what many consider to be the finest collection of Islamic artefacts in the world. The palace itself was the finest private residence ever built in the Ottoman Empire. From its supreme position overlooking the Hippodrome, the sultan could enjoy excellent views of the celebrations in the square below. The museum is well laid out and contains more than 40,000 examples of Selçuk, Mamluk and Ottoman Turkish art, including ceramics, Koran cases, calligraphy, textiles, metalwork and illuminated manuscripts. Its antique carpet exhibit is renowned; the carpets, kilims and prayer rugs forming one of the richest and oldest collections in the world.

Covered Bazaar (Kapali Çarsi)

The oldest and biggest enclosed bazaar in the world, also known as the Grand Bazaar, is one of the most enticing and mesmerizing attractions in Istanbul. Consisting of a vast labyrinth of 65 twisting streets crammed with more than 4,000 shops, teahouses, hamams (Turkish baths), mosques, storehouses and fountains. It is a fascinating experience to wander around the alleyways, looking and enjoying, or bargaining and purchasing. Here you can find almost anything, from meerschaum pipes, carpets and jewellery, to Turkish Delight, textiles, spices, clothing and hand-painted ceramics. Protracted bargaining over a cup of tea is an important institution. Built during the rule of Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror in 1461, the bazaar grew by covering an increasingly large area of shops and streets with roofs, arches and domes, and it became the centre of trading during the Ottoman period. Caravans of silk traders traditionally stayed here and rested their camels while selling their merchandise, and many of these ‘hans’ or caravanserais still exist as storehouses today.


Outside the land walls of Istanbul, at the north end of the Golden Horn, lies the suburb of Eyüp, with Istanbul's holiest shrine, the Eyüp Mosque, built in 1459 and subsequently much altered. Here a new Sultan was girded with his sword. Facing the entrance to the mosque is the Türbe of Eyüp, the Prophet's Standard-bearer, who was killed during
the first Arab siege of Constantinople (678).

On the hill above the mosque, to the northeast, is a picturesque cemetery. Each grave has two gravestones, and until 1926 the headstone of a man's grave bore a fez or turban. From higher up, above the old Convent of the Whirling Dervishes, there is a magnificent view of both sides of the Golden Horn.

2km/1.25mi east of Eyüp, the Sweet Waters of Europe flow into the Golden Horn. This is still a favorite resort of the people of Istanbul.

Sunken Palace

Also known as the Underground Cistern or Yerebatan Saray, this eerie cavern was built by Constantinople the Great around 532 AD and is held up below ground by 336 columns. Once a set for the James Bond film, From Russia with Love, the cavern today sees tourists crossing over 2 acres of 12 inch thick water, on wooden walkways, to take in the occasional art exhibit or marvel at the intricate design on the columns themselves. There is a pleasant little café topside where the eyes can adjust over some tea.

Egytian Bazaar

Immediately west of the Yeni Cami in Istanbul is the Egyptian Bazaar (Misir Çarsisi), originally intended only for goods from Egypt but now the most important market in the Old Town after the Great Bazaar.
Porcelain Collection

The palace kitchens of Hagia Eirene in Istanbul now house the Porcelain Collection, predominantly consisting of Chinese porcelain and faience (mostly 10th-18th century), which includes many items of outstanding quality. On the left-hand side of the courtyard is the Kubbe Alti, built by Mehmet II, with a tall tower (41.5m/135ft; 16th century, upper part 1819). This housed the Divan, the council chamber in which the Grand Vizier received foreign envoys. Adjoining the Kubbe Alti is a collection of Turkish faience.

The Bab-üs-Saadet, the Gate of Felicity (to the left, a collection of textiles), leads into the second of the inner courts. Immediately in front of the gate is the Audience Chamber (Arz Odasi), a pavilion dating from the
time of Süleiman the Magnificent, with a baldachin-like throne in a colonnaded hall. Beyond this is the Library of Ahmet III.

Cannon Gate Palace / Old Palace

From the Soguk Çesme Gate in Istanbul we bear half right to the Topkapi Sarayi (Cannon Gate Palace) or Eski Saray (Old Palace), the old palace-city of the Sultans, built on the Seraglio Point hill, one of the seven hills of New Rome, on the site of the acropolis and the earliest settlement of Byzantion. This great complex of buildings set in gardens (now open to the public) bounded by battlemented walls and towers, consists of a number of buildings outside the main precincts (the Archeological Museum, the Mint, the church of Hagia Eirene, etc.) and, beyond these, the Inner Seraglio. Mehmet II built a summer palace here in 1468, and this was enlarged by Süleiman
the Magnificent into the Sultan's principal residence, occupied by successive Sultan's until Abdul Mecid moved to the Dolmabahçe Palace in 1855.

The Topkapi Sarayi is surrounded by 5km of walls. The series of open courtyards are covered with 50,00 white roses in 1593. The second court enclosed flowerbeds and roses with plane trees and cypresses give shade. In the third court is a collection of fine trees such as magnolias, box, Atlas cedar and Lagerstroemia indica, during summer there are scented flowers. The fourth courtyard contains pavilions that are surrounded with flowers, trees and shrubs.

Archeological Museum

On the west side of the Seraglio hill in Istanbul stands the Archeological Museum (Arkeoloji Müzesi), which contains an important collection of prehistoric Greek, Roman and Byzantine antiquities.

Opposite the southwest wing of the Archeological Museum is the Museum of Ancient Oriental Art (Eski Sark Eserleri Müzesi).

In the courtyard of the Archeological Museum is the graceful Cinili Kösk (Tiled Pavilion), one of the oldest surviving Turkish buildings in Istanbul (1472), in a style which shows Persian influences. It has Turkish ceramic, tile (mainly from Iznik, 16th century) and faience (12th-19th century) decoration.

Above the Archeological Museum is the Outer Court of the Seraglio, with the Janissaries'
Plane Tree.

The museum consists of two buildings, the main building which dates to the 1880s, and a new six story building.

Aqueduct of Valens

A little way north of the Sehzade Mosque in Istanbul, between the University and the Sultan Mehmet Mosque, can be seen the imposing bulk of the Aqueduct of Valens, built in the reign of Valens (A.D. 368), frequently restored and still in use. The two-story aqueduct spans the lower ground between the third and the fourth of the city's hills, and at its highest point, half-way along its course, crosses the Atatürk Boulevard, a modern street driven through the center of the Old Town, including an area devastated by fire.

Galata Tower

Erected as a bastion for the walls of the 14th century colony of Galata, the tower offers a 360º panoramic view of the old town. Today it is a sought-after conference venue, offering fine dining at the resident restaurant and belly dancing displays in its own night club.

Dolmache Palace
Dolmache Palace
This second palace of the Ottoman Sultans was once the Sultan's harem and is an ostentatious interior of crystal chandeliers, the one adorning the grand hall weighing in at four tons (4,000 kg). On the exterior, the palace has an extensive and beautiful garden, yours for the strolling.

Istanbul Dolphinarium

Kids on holiday in Istanbul will jump at a chance to visit the dolphinarium, its six pools home to a few dolphins and seals, as well as white whales and walruses. Children can swim with the dolphins, visit the toy store and learn many great sea-life facts while they're there. The restaurant or café are great for a snack or lunch break.

Sisli Science Centre

The fascinating world of science can be explored by children at the Sisli science centre in Istanbul. Interactive programs and animations cover a range of subjects from maths and physics to earthquakes and fire-fighting. Take a ride on the Bouncing Electrons or see the destructive force of a 7.4 magnitude earthquake.

Discovery Sphere Planetarium

In a true space odyssey, kids can marvel at the wonders of the universe projected onto the walls of the Discovery Sphere Planetarium. They will be amazed at the night sky as it reveals infinite stars and the fascinating Milky Way. All children's space questions will be answered by the planetarium's friendly on-site specialists or the latest digital animation systems.

Contemporary Istanbul

Every October artists from all across Turkey converge on the capital to showcase their latest creations in contemporary art. A variety of paintings, sculpture and crafts are displayed for exhibition purposes and also for sale. Admirers from all across Turkey show up for the week to assess, purchase and critique the latest offerings of a fascinating culture.

International Istanbul Music Festival

One of the most prominent events on the city's cultural calendar and one of the foremost musical events in Europe, the International Istanbul Music Festival is a summer extravaganza of opera and ballet, as well as classical and traditional music. Over the years the festival has hosted world-renown classical performers and groups from around the globe, as well as local artists and traditional music groups, from international philharmonic orchestras, distinguished chamber ensembles and soloists to dance and ballet performances and Whirling Dervishes. Concerts are held in various locations, including some of the historical buildings in Istanbul.

The Bosphorus Swim

This annual event sees over a thousand swimmers navigate the 4.3 miles (7km) of the Bosphorus Straight between Kanlica and Cemil Topuzlu Park, essentially swimming from Asia to Europe. Concurrently, rowers and sailors participate in longer races along the same route. Complementing the event are live brass band performances, water-ski exhibitions and dance performances.

Turkish F1 Grand Prix

One of the newer tracks added to the Formula One Season, Istanbul Park has been described as 'The greatest track ever built', by Bernie Ecclestone, CEO of the Formula One Administration. It is one of only three races that runs anticlockwise (the Brazillian and San Marino Grand Prix being the other two) and commands the respect of all the drivers. The track is located 56 miles (90km) from the city centre.


Shopping in Istanbul is a mixture of old, new, antique, exotic and unadulterated kitsch. Souvenirs, spices, leather goods, carpets, kilims and earthenware are all popular buys with tourists, but the experience is more about wandering through the winding streets and markets, taking everything in and hunting for bargains.

The most notable market is the Grand Bazaar, which boasts over 4,000 shops and, just in case that's not enough, the entire market is surrounded by a maze of streets lined with even more shops! Just about everything and anything can be found at the Grand Bazaar and haggling is an essential skill. The Egyptian market and the flea market in Beyazit Square are also worth a visit.

Outside the Grand Bazaar, to the east, Nuruosmaniye Caddesi is the place to buy jewellery, and fine art boutiques can be found nestled down the side streets. A shopping trip in Istanbul is not complete without buying a box of Turkish delight, which can be found all over the city and in souks and specialist shops.

Most shops in Istanbul are open from 8am until roughly 9pm, and religious shopkeepers will close for an hour on Friday at lunchtime for prayers at the Mosque. In many areas shops are closed on Sundays. Non-European tourists can apply for a tax refund depending on the nature of the goods that have been purchased. In Turkey, the minimum purchase to qualify for a refund is TRY100 and visitors will need to request a VAT refund request form when making a purchase.

Night Life

Those in the know reckon Istanbul only comes to life once the sun sets. There is certainly an astounding range of nightlife in the city, from cutting edge techno to belly-dancing. The nadir of all this activity is Beyoðlu with plenty of wine bars, jazz joints and hip rooftop bars. In contrast, the tourist area of Sultanahmet has few venues worth mentioning.

Start your evening off at one of the many meyhanes - a type of Turkish tavern famous for raki and mezze platters. Some of the best nightclubs are in Ortaköy, overlooking the Bosphorous. The two most popular are Reina and Sortie, both famous for supermodels, millionaires and the effortlessly hip. For jazz music, head to enduring classics Nardis Jazz Club and Istanbul Jazz Centre.

Clubs and bars stay open very late and drinks prices are good compared to European cities. Be careful of visiting strip joints or belly-dancing clubs - these are notorious for ripping off tourists. Always establish prices before ordering anything. For local listings check out Time Out Istanbul or the Turkish Daily News.


Istanbul has two international airports: The larger one is the Atatürk International Airport located in the Yeşilköy district on the European side, about 24 kilometres (15 mi) west from the city center. When it was first built, the airport was situated at the western edge of the metropolitan area but now lies within the city bounds. The smaller one is the Sabiha Gökçen International Airport located in the Kurtköy district on the Asian side, close to the Istanbul Park GP Racing Circuit. It is situated approximately 20 kilometres (12 mi) east of the Asian side and 45 kilometres (28 mi) east of the European city center.


Sea transport is vital for Istanbul, as the city is practically surrounded by sea on all sides: the Sea of Marmara, the Golden Horn, the Bosphorus and the Black Sea. Many Istanbulites live on the Asian side of the city but work on the European side (or vice-versa) and the city's famous commuter ferries form the backbone of the daily transition between the two parts of the city – even more so than the two suspension bridges which span the Bosphorus. The commuter ferries, along with the high speed catamaran Seabus (Deniz Otobüsü), also form the main connection between the city and the Princes' Islands.

The first steam ferries appeared on the Bosphorus in 1837 and were operated by private sector companies. On January 1, 1851, the Şirket-i Hayriye (literally the Goodwill Company, as the Istanbul Ferry Company was originally called) was established by the Ottoman state. The Şirket-i Hayriye continued to operate the city's landmark commuter ferries until the early years of the Republican period, when they went under the direction of Türkiye Denizcilik İşletmeleri (Turkish State Maritime Lines). Since March 2006, Istanbul's traditional commuter ferries are being operated by İstanbul Deniz Otobüsleri (Istanbul Sea Buses) which also operates the high speed catamaran Seabus.

İDO (İstanbul Deniz Otobüsleri – Istanbul Sea Buses) was established in 1987 and operates the high speed catamaran Seabus which run between the European and Asian parts of Istanbul, also connecting the city with the Princes' Islands and other destinations in the Sea of Marmara. The Yenikapı High Speed Car Ferry Port on the European side, and the Pendik High Speed Car Ferry Port on the Asian side, are where the high speed catamaran "car ferries" are based. The car ferries which operate between Yenikapı (on the European side of Istanbul) and Bandırma reduce the driving time between Istanbul and İzmir and other major destinations on Turkey's Aegean coast by several hours; while those which operate between Yenikapı or Pendik (on the Asian side of Istanbul) and Yalova significantly reduce the driving time between Istanbul and Bursa or Antalya.

The port of Istanbul is the most important one in the country. The old port on the Golden Horn serves primarily for personal navigation, while Karaköy port in Galata is used by the large cruise liners. Regular services as well as cruises from both Karaköy and Eminönü exist to several port cities in the Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea. Istanbul's main cargo port is located in the Harem district on the Asian side of the city. Istanbul also has several marinas of varying size for personal navigation, the largest of which are the Ataköy Marina on the European side and Kalamış Marina on the Asian side.


The State Road D.100 and the European route E80, the Trans European Motorway (TEM) O-3 are the two main motorway connections between Europe and Turkey. The motorway network around Istanbul is well developed and is constantly being extended. Motorways lead east to Ankara and west to Edirne. There are also two express highways circling the city. The older one, the O-1, is mostly used for inner city traffic; while the more recent one, the O-2, is mostly used by intercity or intercontinental traffic.

The Bosphorus Bridge on the O-1 and the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge on theO-2 establish the motorway connection between the European and the Asian sides of the Bosphorus. The southern and northern shores of the Golden Horn, an inlet of the Bosphorus on the European side of the city, are connected through the Galata Bridge, the Atatürk Bridge and the Haliç Bridge; the latter also being a part of the O-1 motorway network.

Büyükdere Avenue is the main artery that runs through the central business districts of Levent and Maslak on the European side, and is also accessible through a number of subway stations. At the point where the O-1 motorway junctions and tunnels between the quarters of Gayrettepe and Zincirlikuyu come together, Büyükdere Avenue connects with Barbaros Boulevard, which descends towards the ferry port of Beşiktaş. There it connects with the coastal highway that runs along the European shore of the Bosphorus, from Eminönü in the south to Sarıyer in the north.


In 1883, a Belgian entrepreneur, Georges Nagelmackers, began a rail service between Paris and Constantinople, using a steamship to ferry passengers from Varna to Constantinople. In 1889, a rail line was completed going through Bucharest to Constantinople, making the whole journey via land possible. The route was known as the Orient Express, made even more famous by the works of Agatha Christie and Graham Greene.

Today, the Sirkeci Terminal of the Turkish State Railways (TCDD), which was originally opened in 1890 as the terminus of the Orient Express, is the terminus of all the lines on the European side and the main connection node of the Turkish railway network with the rest of Europe. Currently, international connections are provided by the line running between Istanbul and Thessaloniki, Greece, and the Bosphorus Express serving daily between Sirkeci and Bucharest, Romania. Lines to Sofia, Belgrade, Budapest, and Chişinău are established over the Bosphorus Express connection to Bucharest.

Beyond the Bosphorus, the Haydarpaşa Terminal on the Asian side serves lines running several times daily to Ankara, and less frequently to other destinations in Anatolia. The railway networks on the European and Asian sides are currently connected by the train ferry across the Bosphorus, which will be replaced by an underwater tunnel connection with the completion of the Marmaray project, scheduled for 2012. Marmaray (Bosphorus Rail Tunnel) will also connect the metro lines on the European and Asian parts of the city. Inaugurated in 1908, the Haydarpaşa Terminal was originally opened as the terminus of the Istanbul-Konya-Baghdad and Istanbul-Damascus-Medina railways.

A railway line runs between the main train station of the European part, the Sirkeci Terminal, and the Halkalı district towards the west of the city center, with 18 stations along its 30 km length. A single trip takes 48 minutes. Another suburban line runs on the Anatolian part from the main train station, the Haydarpaşa Terminal, to Gebze at the eastern end of the city. The 44 km long line has 28 stations and the trip takes 65 minutes. 720,000 passengers use the urban rail lines on the European side of the city every day.


Trams first entered service in Istanbul on September 3, 1869, at the Tophane – Ortaköy line. In 1871 the Azapkapı – Galata; Aksaray – Yedikule; Aksaray – Topkapı; and Eminönü – Aksaray lines entered service. Other lines which entered service in the late 19th century included the Voyvoda Caddesi – Kabristan Sokağı – Tepebaşı – Taksim – Pangaltı – Şişli line; the Bayezid – Şehzadebaşı line; the Fatih – Edirnekapı – Galatasaray – Tünel line; and the Eminönü – Bahçekapı line. Since 1939 the trams of the city are operated by the İETT. On August 12, 1961, the historic red trams of Istanbul were removed from the city's European side; and on November 14, 1966, they were removed from the city's Asian side. Towards the end of 1990, replicas of these historic red trams were put in service along the İstiklal Avenue between Taksim and Tünel, which is a single 1.6 km-long (1640 m) line. On November 1, 2003, another nostalgic tram line (T3) was reopened on the Anatolian part of Istanbul between Kadıköy and Moda. It has 10 stations on a 2.6 km long route. The trip takes 21 minutes.

A fast tram (T1) was put in service in 1992 on standard gauge track with modern cars, connecting Sirkeci with Topkapı. The line was extended on one end from Topkapı to Zeytinburnu in March 1994, and on the other end from Sirkeci to Eminönü in April 1996. On 30 January 2005 it was extended from Eminönü to Fındıklı, crossing the Golden Horn through the Galata Bridge for the first time after 44 years. A final extension to Kabataş was opened in June 2006. The line has 24 stations on a length of 14 km. Service was initially operated with 22 LRT vehicles built by ABB, now reassigned to other lines; while stations were provided with temporary high platforms. These vehicles were replaced by 55 low-floor Bombardier Flexity Swift trams in 2003. An entire trip takes 42 minutes. The daily transport capacity is 155,000 passengers. The amount of investment totaled US$110 million. In September 2006, a second tram line (T2) was added, running west from Zeytinburnu to Bağcılar. Service on this line is operated with 14 ABB LRT cars. Stations have high platforms at the level of the car floor.


Istanbul is served by two underground funicular railways, of very different ages and styles. The older of these lines is the Tünel (1875). Inaugurated on January 17, 1875, the Tünel is the second-oldest subterranean urban rail line in the world after the London Underground (1863) (arguably third in the world, if one counts Brooklyn, New York's abandoned Atlantic Avenue Tunnel) and the first subterranean urban rail line in continental Europe; though the first full subway line with multiple underground stations in continental Europe was the Line 1 of the Budapest Metro (1896). The Tünel is 573 m long with an altitude difference of 60 m and no intermediate stations between Karaköy and Tünel Square. It has been continuously in service since 1875. Two trains run on a single rail every 3.5 minutes, and a trip takes 1.5 minutes. Making 64,800 trips, totaling 37,066 kilometres a year, the Tünel carries 15,000 passengers per day.

A second funicular line, the Kabataş-Taksim Funicular, entered service on June 29, 2006, connecting Kabataş and Taksim. This system connects the Seabus station and the tram stop in Kabataş to the metro station at Taksim Square. It is about 600 meters long and climbs approximately 60 meters in 110 seconds, carrying 9,000 passengers per day.

Light rail

The Istanbul LRT is a light rail transit system consisting of 2 lines. The first line (M1) began service on 3 September 1989 between Aksaray and Kartaltepe. The line was further developed step-by-step and reached Atatürk Airport on December 20, 2002. The other line (T4) was opened in 2007 between Edirnekapı and Mescid-i Selam. There are 36 stations, including 12 underground and 3 viaduct stations, on the line's 32 km length. The lines are totally segregated from other traffic, without level crossings, and run underground for 10.4 km. Service is operated with LRT vehicles built by ABB in 1988.


Construction works of the Istanbul Metro (M2) began in 1992 and the first completed section between Taksim and 4. Levent entered service on September 16, 2000. This section of the line is 8.5 km (5.3 mi) long and has 6 stations. In 2000, there were 8 Alstom-built 4-car train sets in service, which ran every 5 minutes on average and transported 130,000 passengers daily. On January 30, 2009, the first train sets built by Eurotem entered service. Eurotem will build a total of 92 new wagons for the M2 line. As of January 30, 2009, a total of 34 train sets, each with 4 cars, were being used on the M2 line.

A northern extension from 4. Levent to Maslak was opened on January 30, 2009. The southern extension of the M2 line from Taksim to Yenikapı, across the Golden Horn on a bridge and underground through the historic peninsula, has thus far been completed up to the Şişhane station in Beyoğlu, which also entered service on January 30, 2009. At Yenikapı the M2 network will intersect with the extended light metro and suburban train lines, and with the Marmaray tunnel.

At present, the M2 line has 10 stations in service on the European side of the city; while 6 new stations on the European side and 16 new stations on the Asian side are currently under construction. The trip between the Şişhane station in Beyoğlu and the Atatürk Oto Sanayi station in Maslak is 15.65 km (9.7 mi) long and takes 21 minutes. The total length of the European side of the M2 line will reach 18.36 km (11.4 mi) when all 16 stations from Hacıosman to Yenikapı will be completed; it including the 936 metres long Golden Horn metro bridge, the 0.6 km long Taksim-Kabataş tunnel connection with the Seabus port, the 0.6 km long Yenikapı-Aksaray tunnel connection with the LRT network, and the 13.6 km long Marmaray tunnel.

On the Asian side, construction of the 21.66 km (13.5 mi) long M2 line from Kadıköy to Kartal continues, which will have a total of 16 stations. The Marmaray tunnel (Bosporus undersea railway tunnel) will connect the metro lines of the Asian and European parts of the city. According to the scheduled construction timeline, the tunnel will enter service in 2012.