Most of Istanbul's top attractions, such as the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and Topkap? Palace, are located in Sultanahmet, far from Taksim Square.
Referred to as the "new Berlin" by some, Istanbul boasts a growing art scene, with contemporary galleries and museums, such as Salt Galata, Arter and the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art leading the field.
Contemporary Turkish cuisine also draws tourists to Istanbul.
The city's historic peninsula, funky cafes and bohemian neighborhoods feel as exciting -- and welcoming -- as always.
"Istanbul is as appealing as ever," insists one local. "Much like a beautiful woman, but with smudged mascara."