Monday, 25 June 2012

Turkey, Istanbul

Istanbul has to be one of our favourite cities to visit in Europe. The city and the country has a special bond with Paul as he spent 8 weeks traversing the country back in the 80's. 
Although Istanbul is now well trodden with tourism it is still easy to get lost in the maze of streets and away from the hordes of tourists. The majority of tourist sites in the city are located in the area close to the 'Blue' & 'Aya Sophia' Mosques making it easy to do it all on foot. 

Ceiling of the Blue Mosque

Grand Bazaar

10 of the best things to see & do in Istanbul

  1. The Blue Mosque - Built in the early 17th century this mosque is still in use and gets its name from the magnificent blue tiles adorning the interior walls. An amazing place to visit . Entry is free. However please note that the mosque usually closes for about 90 minutes several times a day for prayers. Tripod friendly :-)
  2. Aya Sopia Mosque - Amazingly this mosque is over 1,000 years older than the Blue Mosque. It is no longer used as a mosque and is now a museum. Entry is about 20 TL and I think it is closed on Mondays.  Don't even think of trying to get a tripod into this mosque.
  3. Topkapi Palace - A definite must see, not only for all its historical interest, but also it's magnificent views over Istanbul & the Golden Horn. Entry is approx 20 TL and extra if you want to visit the Harem.
  4. Grand Bazaar - the Grand Bazaar is one of the worlds largest covered markets with over 3,000 shops. Even though it is usually swarming with tourists a visit to Istanbul is not complete until you have visited at least once. 
  5. Spice Bazaar -  The colours & exotic aromas here are a treat to your eyes & nasal cavities.
  6. Galata Bridge & Galata Tower - The Galata Bridge spans the Golden Horn. It is the 5th bridge to span this location. Make sure you visit the lower level. The Galata Tower built in the early 14th century is on the north side of the Galata Bridge and from the top offers stupendous views over Istanbul.
  7. Bosphorus Ferry trip If you have the time this is a great way to see Istanbul from the water. 
  8. Dolmabahce Palace - An amazing palace located on the shores of the Bosphorus in the Besiktas district of Istanbul.
  9. Basilica Cistern - Dating back to AD532, this underground attraction with its columned chamber is great to escape the heat if visiting in Summer. There is an entry fee.
  10. Chocolate Baklava - You must visit Baklavaci Said at Divan Yolu Cd, No.88, Cemberlitas which is not far from the Grand Bazaar. The chocolate  baklava is incredibly yummy. They also have a shop in Sirkeci but this one is closest to all the main sights. 
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