Few ferry hops can be as dramatic as the one from Europe to Asia, taken by locals for a few pennies every 10 minutes between Istanbul’s bustling shores. On one side rise the historic sights of Sultanahmet, the Haghia Sofia, Topkapi Palace and the Blue Mosque; on the other, the chaotic sprawl of Kadikoy and Asia.
Fought for by Persians, Romans and Greeks, Constantinople was a Byzantine stronghold attacked by Crusaders and Ottomans, who created a great imperial capital.
A regular bidder to stage the the Olympics and host of Liverpool’s famous Champions League victory of 2005, Istanbul is a modern capital with significant Muslim, Greek Orthodox, Armenian and Jewish elements.
But one three-way conflict divides like no other: the eternal battle between Galatasaray, Besiktas and Fenerbahce, winners of every Turkish championship but seven since its inauguration in 1959.
Galatasaray have the international pedigree, Fenerbahce have as
many domestic titles and the biggest fan base while Besiktas boast the
longest history and nicest stadium.
Matches involving the three are fierce, those involving the first
two explosive. For derby games, buy tickets from Biletix
(www.biletix.com) – if you don't get a tickets-and-flights package from
our Travel Shop.
Galatasaray used to play at the Ali Sami Yen Stadium, in the traffic-choked district of Mecidiyekoy, but in 2011 moved to the Turk Telekom Arena alongside the major E80 ring road. As well as being in a more car-friendly position, the new stadium has also more than double the capacity of the old place – 53,000 as opposed to 22,100.
Over the Bosphorus, Fenerbahce’s Sukru Saracoglu Stadium has
also recently been renovated, its 50,000 all-seated stands close to the
pitch but comfortable enough to host the 2008 UEFA Cup Final. It
overlooks Kadikoy harbour, with regular 15-minute crossings from
Eminonu near Sirkeci station.
Besiktas’ Inonu Stadium, with views of the Dolmabahce Palace
and the Bosphorus beyond, comfortably holds 32,000 spectators. It’s a
short hop by public taxi (dolmus) or a 15-minute walk from Taksim.
Bag a bargain at the Grand Bazaar. Its 5,000 shops and 65 alleyways sell carpets, water pipes, silk, gold...
After a hectic day taking in the sights and shopping at the bazaars, why not find time to relax at one of the 20 Turkish baths in the city? Known to the Turks as hamams, they’re the perfect place to experience the local tradition and culture first hand.
Explore Istanbul with our interactive map – drag, zoom, click a badge for a guide
For regular updates on Turkish football, see our blog Turkish Delights
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