Documentaries and Videos to Watch Before Visiting Istanbul

You may have heard many things about the great city of Istanbul. Stories from other travellers visited there, from vlogs or blogs of travellers on the internet or from the writings of the locals. But many of these sources rely on their own experiences. In this writing, we will provide a deeper insight of this beautiful and strange city on more rare points. With documentaries, you will have a stronger opinion about what to do in Istanbul. And hopefully, you will enjoy your trip more than ever.

1. The Streets of Besiktas

Every hour of the day, these streets are filled with people. Even this little video shows us that Istanbul is an alive city, 24/7. And especially in Besiktas, you can feel its heartbeat more. Some people can live for years in Besiktas, without going to any other district in Istanbul. Because they can get everything in here. Other than providing many things, these streets have a little bonus too. Normally in Istanbul, everything is complicated. Streets like maze, places that don’t fit their locations, and shopping malls in the middle of nowhere. But if you look closer to the documentary, you can see every street has the same business type. You can find a street full of shops. Or if you’re looking for a pub, there is a street full of them. Breakfast street, Coffee Street, Restaurants Street… This district will come to you a little more planned, and modern than many districts of Istanbul for a standard trip.



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2. Unexpected Urban Arts

In a country that has a major Muslim population, most of the outsiders expect a more singular culture. Most people have a judgment that if a city has a majority in Islam, that city has to be a closed-minded populace. This may or may not be true, but the absolute truth is Istanbul destroys every judgment about that. On a normal daily walk out in the streets, you can and absolutely will hear music. And not just ‘Music’, you will hear a jazz band playing, in the next street that an Indian band making tribal music belongs to ancient America. Rockers playing solo drums, or an elderly man playing an instrument called ‘Saz’ and singing a folk song. Other than music you can see painters, mimes, dancers, and many more from various cultures. Urban arts have a special place in this huge city and accepted by people with multiculturalism. Of course, you can find many cities that have urban arts, but in Istanbul, you will surely see more various cultures that no city can show. This can be also said about the architecture of buildings and streets, structures from different eras are everywhere in this city.

3. The Real Owners of the Land

This documentary shows that cats live in massive numbers in the city of Istanbul. This animalistic invasion doesn’t stop with cats; dogs live in the streets too, with various birds flying over the city. They mostly don’t get afraid of humans walking past them, and never harm anyone without provoking. The people of Istanbul feed them as much as they can apart from the city hall. And even some people build little houses for them. People mostly have an animal-loving heart, and if someone treats animals badly they raise their voice quickly. City hall also acts quickly to these violent actions, answering people’s cries. No one knows how and why, but animals and people coexist in this city on a higher level than any metropolis in the world. Cats inside Mosques, dogs inside of coffee shops, birds landing your next chair and watching you, Istanbul is a unique city with this much animal and making you feel like its strangely normal.
If you want more than a short video, there is ‘Kedi’ documentary made in 2016. You can check it out too.



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4. Same Place, Different Cities

Many cities in Anatolia were built on another city. For two-three thousand of years, cities were built almost on the same places. This led to a way of living with the ruins of the old below us. The same thing goes the same with Istanbul. But with some big differences, Istanbul is the best choice to live for its geographical location. Therefore, more city ruins can be found underneath it, with different cultures. Ottoman, Byzantine, and Roman ruins can be found here. Great architects of different eras made their masterpieces in here mostly, and most of those still remain. Many historians say that most of the ancient city locations have gone through a total dig site, revealing every inch of the past. But even this day Istanbul only scratched its surface, keeping many of its mysterious past unseen. We can say we only see a little part of Istanbul’s history, and even that is astonishing. For a historical trip, you can watch this historic documentary ‘Cities of the Underworld’ to get an idea about what lies underground for now. The documentary shows the Basilica Cistern, a marvel that contains all the last three cultures at the same time. Built by Byzantium with Roman techniques and used mostly by the Ottoman Empire, this gives the idea of what marvels can be seen in Istanbul, especially below the city’s underground.

5. Cultural Timeline

Usually, there is a major culture in cities, with major religions and ethnicity. Metropolis class cities differ from this judgment. Cultures existing always gained something from the previous culture, but in Istanbul previous cultures remain too. Examples like Hagia Sophia can show you this more accurately. Churches converted to mosques at worst, and left untouched mostly in the Ottoman era, but never demolished with hate. The same goes with Byzantium as well, Christianity rose up and ancient religions were cast aside but Roman culture never left the room. Even the famous Turkish Baths comes from Roman culture. And all of it still exists in the same city, coherently. Historical landmarks are a valid travel purpose, but also the daily life of a multicultural way is something to explore too. How a Muslim person marries a Christian and lives in a street with a synagogue is something to wonder. Most of the big cities can show you examples of this modern, respectful living but Istanbul has a respectful past throughout ages. How was it back then, how it is now, and how it comes to be like this, can be seen more clearly with a historical trip to this city built on seven hills. For more insight, there is a documentary about the people of Istanbul and their mixed cultural way of life.

6. Bright Lights in Every Way

Nights in Istanbul are as alive as the day time. Crowd everywhere with open shops and street performances. Filled with this much populace and demand of the nightlife, the city provides a second heartbeat exclusive for night time. There is no way of a complete description, you must experience it through it. As every big city, Istanbul has danger in it too but if you know where to go, you will be just fine.

This Vlog shows a partial night in Istanbul. People enjoying in every way there is can be used for description. Watching street performance, taking ice cream with performance from Kahramanmaras ice-cream craftsmen, drinking coffee or eating with friends, or getting a few drinks with groups. Simply walking on the streets becomes an adventure in this city, as you can see. Kadikoy, Besiktas, and Istiklal Street are the highlights of this nightlife locations.

This Vlog also shows the nightlife in Istanbul with pubs and clubs named with. There is almost always a place for every taste or vibe for you in this city. From mega-clubs to the small pubs and themed bars like ‘only shots and cocktails’ can be seen in this Vlog. Whatever your taste, you can find it in Istanbul if you search enough.



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