What I love the most about Istanbul? Its combination of cultures. Being in influence of Islam and Catholic in the past, many of its buildings and other form of arts are so rich of culture marriage. Love it.
I have to admit that my trip was such a touristic visit. That simply means that I acted as a tourist, visited touristic places and spent my money like a tourist (I hope I didn’t shoot as ordinary tourist).
I started with Ayasofia (Haghia Sophia) Museum. Being the largest cathedral in the world until year 1400, it became a mosque until year 1934, before it was opened as a museum. Its dome was just amazing. Too bad a heavy restoration was still in progress during my visit, limiting my shooting.
Just several hundred meters from Ayasofia, I then went to the famous Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Mosque). The design of the Sultan Ahmed Mosque is the culmination of two centuries of both Ottoman mosque and Byzantine church development. Such an awesome architecture. If you go with a tour guide, you must be told to pay attention to its six towers (minarets), which makes it the only one in the world (I didn’t bother trying to shoot all of them in one frame though).
Basilica Cistern is also another beauty you cannot miss. The cistern, located 500 feet (150 m) west of the Hagia Sophia on the historical peninsula of Sarayburnu, was built in the 6th century. As a dedicated tourist, I and my girlfriend had our touristic photo shoot wearing traditional Turkish costumes. It was so cool, I looked more like a Chinese emperor.
If you like to shop, go to Taksim Square and walk along the Istiqlal Street, where hundreds of local and international stores are packed with thousands of shoppers. Or go to Grand Bazaar, the first covered market in the world. Yes, it is the world’s first mall. It has more than 58 covered streets and over 1,200 shops which attract between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily. Staying there more than two hours was more than enough to make me nearly crazy, as the sellers were trying so hard to offer me so many things.
Go cruising the Bosphorus Strait, the border or Europe and Asia, that divides the city of Istanbul. The cruise will take you go through under two magnificient bridges, Fatih Sultan Mehmet and Bosphorus Bridges.
Enjoy the whole city of Istanbul from Galata Tower. No worries, it has two elevators that will bring you to the top, where a fine dining restaurant is also open for dinner. The scenic was so pleasant (the only unpleasant thing was our taxi driver who took us there. He cheated us with its lousy meter. Feels like home!).
You must also visit Topkapi Palace and Dolmabahce Palace. Topkapi was a setting for state occasions and royal entertainments and is a major tourist attraction today, containing the most treasured holy relics of the Muslim world such as the prophet Muhammad’s cloak and sword, and Moses’ stick, not mentioning the unbelievable amount of germs and jeweleries the king possessed. It was hard to believe that King Ottoman was able to collect such items during his life. Another proof of how nice it was to be a king.
Last but not least, don’t forget to try these: the famous Turkish kebab, Turkish coffee, which is basically an espresso with lots of sugar in it, and its local beer, Efes. It’s a pilsener with smooth taste. Yummie!