Wednesday, June 27, 2012

#969 Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul is one of the most amazing, beautiful cities in the world. It has been such a crossroads of cultures between Asia and Europe, and between all the religions and the cultures of the old and new worlds. And there is so much to see! My favorites:
1. Aya Sophia -- originally a Christian Basilica, and now a mosque, it is an enormous conglomerate of architectural styles and heritage. 
View from Aya Sophia to Blue Mosque.
Aya Sophia Mosque
2. Carpet shop in an old bath house.
3. The Blue Mosque - a tribute to the Ottoman Empire's rule over most of the Islamic World.

4. The Great Mosaic Museum - Discovered underneath a series of shops being built, this is one of the biggest complex of intact Roman era mosaics that I've ever seen -- room after room after room, underneath a house.
5. The Roman cistern - underneath a suburb of Istanbul is the massive, decorated Roman cistern, which is still a storage facility for water after several millenia!
6. Topkapi Palace and Gardens -- this is a massive complex with several courtyards, a harem, small pagodas, and beautifully decorated buildings. It was forbidden for non-royals to enter, and has generated much mystique over the centuries of Ottoman rule.
Inside the harem 
7. The Bosphorus -- Taking a ferry to one of the other areas of Istanbul is one of the most enjoyable things to do -- you can get a view of the city from the water, including the ancient palaces that lined the shore. See how big the Aya Sophia and the Blue Mosque are in comparison to their surroundings.

 8. The Grand Bazaar -- a shopper's heaven in an old building with lots to buy and even more to look at -- loved having a cup of tea here!

This has so many things on traveller's checklists -- such an interesting place to visit!

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