This time I invite you to wander around one of the most magnificent and ancient cities of the world, Istanbul! Istanbul, that once bore the names of Constantinople and Byzantium, is a unique location since it's the only city in the world that belongs to two different continents; Europe and Asia! It’s a fantastic and charming place that makes your heart beat faster… and I must confess, I love Istanbul with all my heart for its sunsets, for its food, for its history, and, of course, for its sights!
Our Istanbul adventure begins within the ancient walls of Hagia Sophia; the locals call it Aya Sofya. Today Hagia Sophia is an impressively large museum; however, originally, it was built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian to become the grandest Christian church - Church of Holy Wisdom. And so it had remained for almost a thousand years.
After the Ottoman conquest, the church was transformed into a mosque. Just imagine, for hundreds of years Hagia Sofia has absorbed religious traditions of both Christianity and Islam and the grandeur of the Ottoman and the Byzantine Empires. Every stone of Hagia Sofia keeps the history of Istanbul! There you can find tombs of Ottoman sultans, the Weeping Column blessed by St. Gregory the Miracle Worker and a splendid 11th-century mosaic featuring the Virgin Mary!
If you want to enjoy Islamic art to the fullest, you should definitely go to the Topkapi Palace! The most interesting thing about the palace is that it's considered to be the oldest and the largest standing palace, so it definitely deserves your full attention!
The palace still keeps dozens of stories of true love and betrayal, of world-changing decisions and power games! The size of the Topkapi Palace really impresses so you can spend a whole day there! However, if you don’t have enough time, do start with the Harem and the Imperial Council Chamber – they should definitely be in your must-see list.
Those who see the famous Blue Mosque for the first time, wonder, "Why blue?" Indeed, the building is far from being blue; however, the moment you enter the mosque, you'll see the point! The interior walls of the mosque are decorated with hand-painted blue tiles.
Besides, to justify the nickname; yes, it's a nickname; in fact, the real name is the Sultan Ahmed Mosque; since recently, it has been illuminated by blue lights in the evening. It's so beautiful that it literally takes your breath away!
Undoubtedly, it's the most famous street in Istanbul. It's an amazing blend of several epochs and therefore, of several architectural styles; a Neo-Classical building sits rights next to a Renaissance one. Surely, it can be your little walking adventure, but don’t miss a chance to hop on a historic tram and have a ride! Wandering around Istiklal Street is a great opportunity to get to know Istanbul and Turkey better!
To conclude with, I'd like to mention several other places that are also worth visiting:
Hippodrome; the ancient center of chariot racing; Istanbul Archaeology Museum; see the ultimate collection of ceramic art; Grand Bazaar; comprises more than 4,000 shops under one roof; Spice Bazaar; enjoy the best of Turkish cuisine!