My first visit to Istanbul exceeded all my expectations and left me with a desire to discover so much more. A combination of old and new makes Istanbul a truly special and unique place, bursting with culture, vibrant streets, lively people, and fantastic cuisine. Hospitality is something that the Turkish people have mastered, making it an effortless act.
Sultan Ahmed Mosque – Completed in 1619 by Sedefhar Mehmet Ağa, a student of Mimar Sinan who was the favourite architect of the Ottoman sultans. It has 260 stained glass windows and 20,000 blue tiles of Iznik adorning the interior.
Hagia Sophia – Famous for its grandiose dome, it served as an Eastern Orthodox cathedral from the date of its construction in 537 AD, and until 1453, and later converted into an Ottoman mosque. In 1935 it became a museum by the first President of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
Topkapi Palace – Built in 1478 and covering an area of approximately 400,000 square metres, the largest and oldest palace in the world to survive to this day. This was home to the Ottoman sultans for nearly four centuries.
Galata Tower – This medieval stone tower offers breathtaking views of Istanbul!
Dolmabahçe Palace – The most spectacular palace I have ever seen! Built in 19th century, right in the Bosphorus. 14 tons of gold was used to decorate its ceilings and if that wasn’t impressive enough, the largest bohemian chandelier in the world is found there, consisting of 750 bulbs, and weighting a massive 4 tons. A guided tour is needed to visit the palace and no photographs are allowed once inside.
Cats of Istanbul – What made me fall in love with Istanbul even more, is their love for cats. In my walks throughout the city I saw many, who were always eager to come and greet me; windows of houses were open making easy for them to casually stroll in to say hello or feast; cafes with their own little mascot or a regular little visitor; on every other block I found a plate with some food, or perhaps milk for these feline friends.
For a list of the places I enjoyed eating and drinking while in Istanbul, please read my other post Eats in Istanbul.