On Day Two Consider:
Visiting the Topkapi Palace is a must (just remember that it is closed on Tuesday). It is a series of pavilions contained by four enormous courtyards. Entry is 20 lire, but make sure you pay the extra 15 lire admission to the Harem which is a beautiful labyrinth of exquisite rooms where the sultan’s wives and concubines lived. The tile work is amazing. Check out the rooms in the back including the Circumcision Pavilion (ouch!) and the Baghdad Pavilion. There are also several exhibitions of artifacts belonging to Muhammad including Moses’ staff, the treasury with many precious objects, and beautiful rooms of jewels and costumes.
Having lunch at the Konyali restaurant (located in far right corner as you enter) is a must. It is on the palace grounds and has wonderful views of the Bosphorus. I bypassed the cafeteria line and instead enjoyed the table service and the better menu. Loved the combination plate of cold Turkish mezes as a meal.
Following the tour of the palace you can visit the Archaeology Museum which is basically next door and has one of the world’s richest collections of classical artifacts. My favorite was the Cinili Pavilion which houses a rich collection of ceramics. The building itself contains beautiful tile work.
Make sure you see the row of old Ottoman houses just outside the west palace gate.
For dinner that night, I highly recommend Balikci Sabahattin. This is a highly recommended fish restaurant located in a refurbished Ottoman townhouse. It has a wonderful atmosphere. The address is Seyit Hasan Kuyu Sok, Cankurtaranmah, phone 0212 458 1824. It is about a 3 block walk from The Empress Zoe.
After dinner, explore the rug stores and ceramics shops surrounding the Four Seasons hotel. Ugur Leather, on Utangac Sokak No 15, had nice ceramics and leather goods. It is out the door from the Four Season and straight down the street on the right. I bought a wonderful kilem rug across from my hotel at Artemis Rug Store, at Akbiyik C. Adliye Sk. No 11/14, phone 0212 517 8112. Ask for Murat Bor, the owner.