Istanbul is a transcontinental city in Eurasia, which separates Europe and Asia between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea. Its historic sites lie on the European side and the land was once conquered by the Roman, Byzantine, the Latin and Ottoman Empire. This is Turkey’s biggest city and is served as the main cultural and commercial centre.
The Blue Mosque
The Sultan Ahmed Mosque, commonly known as the Blue Mosque is a must visit tourist sites. It still functions as a mosque today. It was built between 1609 and 1616 during the rule of Ahmed I. Inside contains Ahmed’s tomb, a madrasah and a hospice. Visitors can enter to view the interior and exterior of the building.
One of the six minarets seen at the corners of Blue Mosque. Four of this pencil-shaped minarets has three balconies, while the two others only have two balconies.
Tips: Shoes must be taken off before entering the mosque and plastic bags will be given to keep them in your bags
Hagia Sophia is just a short walking distance from the Blue Mosque and was built in 537 AD under the orders of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I. It served as a church until 1453. During the Ottoman rule in 1453, it was converted into a mosque and the four minarets which can be seen today were Ottoman addition.
These exhibit halls display many old artifacts and costumes that were used by the Ottoman Empire.
The wishing column can be found in the northwest of the building. There is a column with a hole in the middle covered by bronze plates. According to legend, it is said to be moist when touched and has supernatural powers to cure many illnesses.
Obelisk of Theodosius
Located near the Blue Mosque, this obelisk belongs to an Ancient Egyptian of Pharaoh Thutmose III re-erected here by the Roman emperor Theodosius I in the 4th century AD. It is made of red granite from Aswan with marble pedestal. Its original height was 30mtall but was damaged probably during its transport or re-erection.
Bosphorus Bridge is one of the three bridge in Istanbul linking Europe and Asia. An estimate 180,000 vehicles pass the bridge daily.
One man was cycling along the bridge and selling Turkish loaves of bread to drivers and passengers
We take the river cruise to view it along Bosphorus Strait to view Dolmabahce Palace. It was once home to six Sultans from 1856 to 1924, served as the main administrative center during the Ottoman ruling and originally used as a bay for the anchorage of the Ottoman fleet. The 31st Sultan, Abdulmecid I ordered to built the palace to replace the Topkapi Palace due to the lack of contemporary style, luxury and comfort compared to other palaces of European monarchs.
The Grand Bazaar
The Grand Bazaar is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world dated back to the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century. It has 61 covered streets and over 4,000 shops, selling spices, food, Turkish coffee, leather goods, leather and casual clothes, souvenirs, textiles, carpets, second-handed books, furniture and jewelry.
After a long walk at the bazaar, it is dinner time. We went to a restaurant. In there, there is a stage where one of the wonderful Turkish folk dance was performed while we enjoy the taste of local meal in Istanbul city.
If you are planning to explore outside of Istanbul city, don’t forget to read this articles and see what are the places worth visiting at Magnificent Turkey Part 1 and Part 2. Also, see the article “Visit Turkey During Winter Time” and get some tips what to carry during the cold weather.