Istanbul Harem

Yeah, that's right: "The Harem"

Ancient mosques, underground churches, bustling markets, crowded modern shopping streets, vibrant spices, KEBAB (yum!), and the boundary between Europe and Asia. Istanbul has it all and so much more. It is impossible to fully describe the vibe of this culturally wealthy city. As you wonder the streets centuries pass in a matter of steps, wheeling sea birds break up a skyline of minarets as the devout are called to prayer, a vast modern public transportation system shuttles shoppers, tourists and workers to the city’s amazingly distinct areas. Hawkers yell in the streets competing for attention and Turkish Lira. Rarely do I fall instantly in love with a place but Istanbul proved the exception. The sites, sounds, smells, people and culture touched something deep inside my chaotic nature. Rather than ruin the magic of the city with my words, I present a photo and video journey through the streets and monuments of Istanbul for you to experience  the magic of Turkey for yourself.

Istanbul Blue Mosque At NightThe Blue Mosque is beautiful anytime of the day. Even better is that fact that it is free to enter. Just watch out for prayer times when it is closed to tourists. I would recommend getting there early in the morning before the crowds.

Istanbul Aya SohpiaAcross the street is the magnificent Aya Sophia. Originally the cathedral of Constantinople from 360 until 1453  it was converted to a mosque before finally settling in a state of limbo between the two religions as a museum.

It is difficult to capture the humility one feels as you first enter the building. The exterior architecture plays tricks on the senses into believing the size is smaller than it really is until you walk through the door unprepared for the vastness of the building.

Turkish Tiles, Sultan's PalaceLess impressive size wise but infinitely more detailed is Topkapi Palace, the Sultan’s Palace. The mosaic work on the walls is absolutely stunning.

Basilica CisternUnderneath the main historical area of Sultanahmet is the Basilica Cistern. The buzzing of cars and tourist is left quickly behind as you descend into this water filled church. Search for the Medusa head at the end for the full mythological experience.


Grand Bazaar Souvenirs IstanbulOnce you’re tired of seeing how people used to live head to the Grand Bazaar to see how the living make a living. While it is not as grand and as traditional as I had imagined, it is a great place to buy souvenirs and try your hand at buying a carpet. Don’t worry, my next post on Istanbul will be a negotiator’s guide to buying a Turkish rug.

Istanbul Spice MarketIf your looking for a more authentic market experience head over to the Spice Bazaar where the cheap trinkets have not completely overrun the common necessities of Istanbul daily life.

Spices at the Istanbul Spice MarketDelicious and beautiful to look at!

Istanbul Street MarketIf you really want to get a feel for how the locals live then walk around the side streets surround the Spice Bazaar. This is where the real shopping is done. The items may not be as sexy as a carpet or floor lamp, but the atmosphere makes up for it. Watching the action from nearby restaurants is perfect. Just check out my friend below, he really loves to sell his scarves…

High Pitch Sales Tactics…protect your child’s ears!

Have you visited Istanbul? Turkey? What are your favorite places to visit and hidden recommendations?



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21 Responses to “Visual Guide to Istanbul’s Must See Sites”

  1. MartyNo Gravatar says:

    This article is really helpful. I enjoyed reading. Istanbul is really gorgeous. I thing everyone should create their own top 10 or “must see” list. Here is an example and it is really helpful:
    Marty´s recent [type] ..This Week Events (18th – 22th June 2012)

  2. ,
    Oneika the Traveller´s recent [type] ..Style File- Solids

  3. I went for three days last year and it was fantastic! I was most impressed by the interior of the Aya Sofia. I did a little montage of my trip there, check it out!!
    Oneika the Traveller´s recent [type] ..Style File- Solids

  4. bilgenNo Gravatar says:

    Wow nice to see lovely pictures of my hometown especially when I am living far away.. and I am happy to read that you survived through all the chaos and really loved the city

  5. EXOTIC! Just looking at these pictures, one is easily transported to a land one fantasizes to visit.
    Michael Schuermann´s recent [type] ..A Day Of Easy Hiking In The Arches National Park

  6. MonzNo Gravatar says:

    tanx for your information, i will go to Istanbul on last week of November, i want to know about the weather and if i can take a cruise or not?!

  7. I’ve GOT to get to Istanbul. Every photo makes me salivate.
    Barbara Weibel´s recent [type] ..Beware…You Are Now Entering Zapatista Territory

  8. jamieNo Gravatar says:

    wow, incredible photos. i especially like the one of the sultans palace. the detail is amazing. so many places in the world to get to! jamie from
    jamie´s recent [type] ..San Cristobal de las Casas

  9. SuzyNo Gravatar says:

    I was just looking into to going to Istanbul. Your pictures definitely push me over the edge into going. The intricacy of the mosaics and bright colors you have captured is remarkable.
    Suzy´s recent [type] ..Oslo Wishes You Were Here

  10. NorbertNo Gravatar says:

    WOW! Great Picture!! I have never been to Istanbul but its on my list… I think it climbed a few spots on the list after looking at these pictures!

  11. AmandaNo Gravatar says:

    Istanbul is at the top of my list of places I’m dying to visit! I loved this visual guide to the city; it makes me want to go even more! Great photos.
    Amanda´s recent [type] ..Cruising to Alaska Here’s how to make it successful

  12. Great photos! Some of your best yet :) I only visited Istanbul for the first time last year but it’s fast becoming one of my favorite cities ever!

  13. Never been there unfortunately, but can’t wait to go! Luckily my father works there so hopefully I’ll have the chance of going with him soon:)
    I like that crowded street pic, can’t wait to be there!:)
    giuliadventures´s recent [type] ..Photo of the day- Fennec

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