Turkey, with its rich culture, awesome food and the diversity is a must-see in Europe.
The Turkish largest city, Istanbul is where truly the east meets the west. You can experience the westernisation of the city, the modern coffee shops, the dressing, the branded shopping and the expensive dining options.
Apart from this all, there is truly the real mid-eastern Istanbul, the islamic culture, the influence of Christianity, the amazing Kebabs and Ayran, the lovely people who try to make a conversation with a question “where are you from” but if you are not cautious a few of them trying to take advantage of it.
We only had two days for Istanbul and two days for Cappadocia region. So we hit Istanbul hard to get the best!
We stayed in The Residence in Sultanhmet, which is the main district in Turkey and is so close to some of the main attractions like Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi palace. The Residence is a boutique hotel and was really nice, though a bit pricey. The staff were extremely helpful and super friendly. Irrespective of which city, which hotel, everyone in turkey kinda force you to take tours. From my experience, the public transport is so good in Istanbul that you dont need tours or taxis. And it is the best way to experience local culture and people.
Our first halt “The Sultan Ahmed Mosque” also popularly called the Blue mosque due to its beautiful blue tiles in the interior of the mosque.
Built in early 17th century, it is one of the most popular attractions in Istanbul.
Considering that it is a mosque and is a religious and holy place for muslims, it is utterly important to dress appropriately when visiting.
About 3 minutes walk from Blue Mosque is the exquisite “Hagia Sophia”, considered to be an inspiration for many other mosques in Istanbul like Blue Mosque is an epic model of the Byzantine architecture, famous for its huge dome.
Built in 360A.D. it had played a holy role in Istanbul’s history as a Church and a mosque. In 1935 it had been converted to a museum.
We then headed off to Topkapi Palace which is about 5-10 minute walk from Hagia Sophia. This palace had been the official residence of the Sultans for over 4 centuries and also contains some of the holy relics of the Islam world. It had been made a museum in the mid 20th century.
The Imperial treasury contains gold exhibits bejewelled with precious gem stones like rubies, emerald, diamonds. It shows off the richness and the victories of the ottoman empire. With its richness and religiousness, Topkapi palace is definitely worth the visit and will demand at least 3 hours of your attention!
With the rich history, the beautiful seas, lovely people Istanbul definitely made a special impression in my heart!