I spent the autumn break in Istanbul with my mom. We arrived in the middle of the night and drove with the taxi to our hotel in Sultanahmet, the old city of Istanbul. On one hand Istanbul is a very modern city and one the other hand very traditional. Istanbul is located both in Asia and Europe seperated by the Bosphorus Strait, and actually I felt like it was literally a mix between Southern Europe and Asia decorated with alot of mosques.
Sometimes its good to have no plan. We knew which tourist attractions we wanted to see before the end of the trip, but just discovering the neighbourhood is an experience itself. As our hotel was so centrally located and we love to walk, we actually passed many exiting places.
First we went to see a small mosque near our hotel and afterwards we passed the Little Hagia Sophia Mosque, which you can see in the picture below. We went all the way down to the river, The Golden Horn, where the fishermen stood side by side. We ended at the Galata Bridge and passed the Spice Bazaar (Egyptian Bazaar) on our way back to the hotel.
Sultan Ahmet and Ayasofya
The day we went to see The Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Camii) and Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya) was very sunny. The Blue Mosque was built from 1609 to 1616, and Hagia Sophia was constructed in 537 and was first a church, then a mosque and today a museum. Alot of history in one place. As we stood there in front of the Hagia Sophia the call to prayers began and you could hear the many mosques around town. This happens many times a day and its a part of Istanbuls charm.
The blue mosque:
View of Istanbul
We also walked over the Galata Bridge to the other side of the Golden Horn (Still the European side of Istanbul) to go up in the Galata Tower where you have a 360-degree view of Istanbul. While we were up there is was getting darker and darker, also visible in the pictures.
The Grand Bazaar
The Grand Bazaar is located in the Sultanahmet District. It has many small alleys and you can easily find yourself lost between the thousand of colorful lamps and beautiful painted bowls.
The Palace and its garden are huge and from 1856 to 1922 it served as the main administrative center of the Ottoman Empire until the abolition of the Caliphate in 1924. From 1924, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder and first President of the Republic of Turkey, used the palace as a presidential residence during the summers. He died in the palace in 1938. You can get a tour inside the palace where you can see all the apartments, and also the room in which he died.
Other great attractions
I would recommend people to also visit the Basilica Cistern that lies beneath the city. Its an underground chamber supported by a 336 marble columns, each 9 metres high.
The Miniatürk park is worth a visit if you have many days to spend in Istanbul. It’s a park with miniature models of famous buildings around Turkey and Istanbul.
The area around the Arasta Bazaar is also great and is located next to the Blue Mosque and the Mosaic Museum.
Last but not least, you should definitely go to the Asian side of Istanbul too. The only capital of the world on two continents.