IstanbulTourist Info

Istanbul FAQ

There are many things you should now before traveling to Istanbul, our extensive FAQs have answers to all the questions our visitors ask.

Shopping in Istanbul

Istiklal Caddesi is probably the largest, as it runs all the from Taksim Square to Tunel Square with every brand imaginable sold there. Abdi Ipekci Caddesi in the Nisantsi neighborhood is known for its luxury and world-famous brands from Prada to Louis Vuitton. Bagdat Caddesi has both luxurious and reasonable priced clothing stores, along with ceramic art, painting, and sculptures.

Serdar-i Ekrem Caddesi is that cool, cobblestone shopping street near the Galata Tower that’s full of boutique shops. Cukurcuma Caddesi is Istanbul’s main antique-hunting street with beautiful neoclassical houses all around. Nuruosmaniye Caddesi is where you can find fine-carpets and jewelry.

Rumeli Caddesi in the Harbiye district is famous for international brands and accessories, while Nispetiye Caddesi is very popular due to the Akmerkez mall having a large area with street-side shops.

Christmas in Istanbul

Unfortunately, this is a rare occurrence, as in the last ten years, it’s only come close once. On December 25th, 2018, it was a cold and rainy day with a high of 7°C (44°F). The temperature did dip to 4°C (39°F) in the early morning, but it was only sprinkles of light rain with no white fluffy stuff to carpet the ground.

Turkish Kebaps Types

Istanbul Kebaps

Doner kebabs are either plated dishes or grilled meat placed on sandwich bread, while Durum kebab use wrapped flatbread like lavash or yufka.

The literal meaning of durum in Turkish is roll or wrap. A thin flatbread such as lavash or yufka is generally used in Turkey and it makes it very easy to hold in your hand when it’s stuffed with vegetables and various types of sauces.

Doner is a specific type of kebab that is made of meat pressed into the shape of an inverted cone that is slow-cooked on a vertical rotisserie. The outer layer is then sliced into thin shavings as it cooks which are then added to a plated dish or sandwich bread.

Kebaps are most often made with beef or lamb, but some offer chicken grilled on skewers as well.

Turkish Kebap History

Istanbul Kebaps History

The doner kebap originated in the Ottoman Empire. It started out as the cag kebab, stacks of seasoned sliced meat cooked on a horizontal rotisserie, which dates back to the 17th century. 

Bursa, which is just south of Istanbul is thought to be the birthplace of the vertical rotisserie used for today’s modern doner kebap. Its believed that it was invented sometime in the 19th century by Iskender Efendi of Iskender kebap fame or possibly Hamdi Usta from Kastamonu.

There’s nothing definitive in history, as the use of fire for cooking (790,000+ years ago) predates the pen and paper by many moons. In the Kitab al-Tabikh, a 10th-century Baghdadi cookbook there are descriptions of kabāb as cut-up meat, either fried in a pan or grilled over a fire. Stone supports for skewers however were unearthed in excavations of the ancient Minoan settlement of Akrotiri.

The ancient Indian text of Mahabharata and even Homer’s Iliad also mentioned pieces of meat roasted on spits which could be kebaps. Meat kebabs were also believed to have been grilled on swords by Nomadic tribesmen. In 17th-century Turkey, Evliya Celebi, an Ottoman journeyman, describes the kebeb as a horizontal bundle of meat which is long before the vertically skewed, Iskender Kebap, was made famous in the 19th century. 

So while there’s no definitive answer, kebaps have most likely been around a very, very long time. 

The vertical rotisserie was invented in the 19th-century Ottoman Empire and soon spread around the world. The Greek gyro, the Arab shawarma, Mexican al pastor, and Canadian donair are all kebap variations that use this type of rotisserie.