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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 12 July 2010
There are guidebooks, then there are guidebooks. If you need a general introduction to the incomparable city of Istanbul, giving you an overview of its many and varied attractions, and perhaps helping you choose a hotel or a restaurant or nightclub too, there are several acceptable guides available - the Rough Guide is a fair bet, notwithstanding its inaccuracies.

If, however, you are serious about getting away from the tourist drag and untangling Istanbul's many layers of history, truly getting to know the "real" place and how it has come to be what is today, then this is a book for you. Each of the 23 chapters takes you on foot along a suggested route through the streets and lanes of the Queen of Cities, enabling you to become acquainted with it in a way no other book I'm aware of makes possible. The authors are exceptionally well-informed, and prove themselves able to share their expertise in an intelligent and very readable way, devoting ample space to the countless sites of interest to the visitor without ever becoming tedious. If your particular interest is Byzantine history, or perhaps the Ottoman period, you can easily select which sites to visit - the book makes possible a pick 'n' mix approach to help you. Relevant input from historical and architectural viewpoints enables you to look at familiar locations through new eyes, and even to learn of the existence of sites you never knew existed.

The walks are of varied length, but none of them need take a full day. Plans of key buildings are detailed and appropriate to the text, and route maps are user-friendly minimising the chances of getting lost even in more remote residential areas. The 2009/2010 edition is bang up to date.

Absorb what this book has to offer before your visit, and it will genuinely enhance your experience - and thereby your memories - of Istanbul, a city like no other on earth. "Strolling Through Istanbul" has made available material previously available only in the old Blue Guide, until recently out of print for some years.
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on 11 April 2010
I landed a few hours ago from my trip to Istanbul, where this book hasn't left my bag except to be eagerly read. This is not a classical, full of pictures, timetables, tips and tricks, and restaurant list guide. It's a guide that provides itineraries through Istanbul, describing in full historical and artistical detail what you find along the way. Includes more information and more places than any other guide, and it's very useful for reading while visiting; stop for a while, find the place in the index in the back, and read aloud for the benefit of your group, and to illustrate everybody. You'll be fascinated with the history, art and technique of Sinan, know about the descriptions of Evliya Çelebi and be able to spot Iznik tiles on sight. Granted. It's even more useful if you read, before going, Istanbul: The Imperial City by one of the authors, but, in any case, it stands by itself.
The only problem I find with this is that you'll have to complement it with, at least, a map (which you can ask in any of the Tourist Information booths, or at the hotel) and maybe some information on opening and closing times; some kind of prioritization would have also been a good idea, but, in any case, it's an excellent book to carry when you're in Istanbul, probably the best.
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on 6 February 2010
'Strolling through Istanbul' is a full and authoritative architectural guide. We shall use it on our future visit to the city. Meanwhile, we would warn that, while there are local maps in the various chapters, the visitor will also need a good map of the old city in order to find the way to each quarter that Freely describes. The book is not for the casual visitor, and everyone will also need a general guidebook (e g the Rough Guide to Istanbul).
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on 2 May 2014
Worth its weight in gold (and if you're travelling with easyJet, that's something to consider, as it's not a lightweight volume).

See other reviews for a fuller description - they are accurate - but this is worth buying a few weeks in advance of your trip, if that's its purpose, as there's a lot of reading and it can really put you in the mood.

We used it as both - for pre-reading and then went on a handful of the suggested walks with the book in our hand. It worked brilliantly for both, and is superb as a historical introduction, going into far more detail than any commercial guidebook. Written lovingly, it really conveys a spirit of the city and brings it to life.

Tip: if you're pre-reading, skip the lengthier architectural descriptions of interiors, as they can get a little dry if you're not in situ!

As others have suggested, take a commercial guidebook and decent map (for those who can get to London, I'd strongly recommend going to look in person at Stanfords rather than blind buying online as a good quality map is quite important in Istanbul - unfortunately as I write the map I bought isn't in front of me so I can't remember it to recommend it - sorry!)
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on 9 March 2015
This is a very well informed book to read about the sights in Istanbul before you set off on your travels. Not a book you can read if you are on the move and have a tight schedule but if you have time on your side to sit and read at the different sites it's an excellent guide book.
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on 1 September 2010
If you want to get more out of your sightseeing trip to Istanbul then this is the book for you. A bit heavy to carry around all day but as areas are clearly and sensiblely divided up, you could always break up the book and just take out sections each day.
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on 26 November 2013
On our recent trip to Istanbul, we found this book the best guide to the many historic sights of the city. The chapters are arranged by area and involve a detailed walking tour of the streets, with comments on ancient and modern buildings not covered by the usual guide book, as well as the main sites. We discovered many hidden gems. The style is scholarly but very readable. The book went everywhere with us and enhanced our visit. Highly recommended.
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on 28 May 2013
We are not heading off to Istanbul until July so I have yet to make use of the guide within the city. I have, however, started to read it as there is too much information to take in in situ. Very readable and packed full of lots of background historical detail. Hopefully I'll have it read before our departure so that I can use it to simply remind me of my previous reading once there .
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on 20 February 2013
One of the best guides I've found on the history and architecture of Istanbul. This is not a general guide, so you will need to complement it with a Lonely Planet, Rough guide or similar. I'm just back from Istanbul and pre-read this book before my trip. It gives a number of short walk itineraries together with the associated history and architecture of the sights you'll encounter on the way. Will put everything you see into context and vastly improve your travel experience. Highly recommended.
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on 17 December 2015
This is THE classic guide to follow if you really want to get to the heart and soul of Istanbul -- personal itineraries and recommendations from two people with in-depth knowledge who truly love this city. Yes, one or two entries are a little dated but that doesn't materially detract from the wealth of local insight conveyed in this book -- highly recommended!

On the other hand, Amazon's service in this instance was unacceptable -- I paid for it to be gift-wrapped, but Amazon didn't do that, just sent it in a bare empty box! -- I can't give Amazon feedback on this as it was marked as a gift (but they didn't gift-wrap it!), as their policy is that the sender can't give feedback on their performance regarding gifts!! -- Catch 22! (for those old enough to remember!).
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