We had heard a lot about the Istanbul’s architecture and the historical wonders it brings to its visitors. Me and my sister love to travel and we have travelled to many countries in Europe and the next on cards was Turkey’s most populous and famous city- Istanbul. Not just the Country, it is one of the most populous cities in the world. Bringing to its visitors a variety of things to do and see including sightseeing, shopping, the Cleopatra’s city and much more, Istanbul is surely a traveller’s delight. Well, with so many things to do and see, our decision on choosing Istanbul as our next holiday destination was absolutely perfect!
Ours was a 4 nights and 5 days trip, and really looked forward to making the most of these days in hand. We landed at the Atatruk airport and took a taxi to the city centre, where we had booked our hotel.
We checked in to our hotel at around 1: 30 PM, had lunch and came out to experience Istanbul. Our first day included the visit to the Blue Mosque, which looked splendid and magnificent from outside. Since we are non Muslims, we had to enter the mosque from door, located on the southern side of the mosque. The mosque was built in 1603, a great masterwork, having blue tiles on the upper levels inside along with magnificent surge of domes and six minarets.
Our next point of attraction on the same day was the grand bazaar. We had a couple of hours in hand for the day to sight see, therefore, we decided on the grand bazaar, which is famous for glazed tiles, carpets, hookahs, ashtrays, pottery, and many more items all available under a covered market. This market is the largest covered market in Turkey, with 4000 shops. Spending an hour and a half in this market, we then decided to spend our next hour at the spice market. The spice market or famously called as the Egyptian Spice Bazaar is located at the southern part of the Galata Bridge. The moment we entered the market, we could smell the exotic fragrances of spices and man, what variety of spices, nuts, and dried fruits! We spent an hour there, and I guess, spending an hour is enough in this market. If you want to explore more and buy some exotic stuff, you could certainly stay here for couple of more hours. We bought Lokum, which is a signature food item of Turkey. These are the candies that are popular amongst natives and a popular item amongst travellers.
Well, after spending a half day seeing the mosque and exploring the two very popular markets, the day had come to an end. We had dinner at one of the popular restaurants in the city centre and went back to our hotel for a long sleep that could help us get going all through the next day.
Our second day included a visit to Topkapi Palace, Dolmabahce Palace, and Basilica Cistern. We reached the Topkapi Palace from our hotel in an hour’s time. We were completely awe struck by its beauty and magnificence, the moment we entered it. The palace depicts the way of living of Ottmon sultans and their empire. We bought an audio guide, which costed us 15 TL. This was the best thing that we did, we just had to press a button and we got the full description of the place or the item. The harem’s entry is separate and required a separate ticket. We bought that one too and checked the Palace’s harem as well. The palace was not just the home of Sultan, but also a place for judicial meetings and other state’s royal entertainments and occasions. The palace is really big, with so many things to see, believe me we kept on seeing it, until we realised that we had already spent 3 hours there and decided to move out.
Next place was the Dolmabachce Palace, built in 19th century and completely an enticing wonder in the world. It was the main administrative building or the palace of the Ottman sultans. The palace is amazingly constructed over 11.2 acres, with 6 baths, 68 toilets, and over 200 rooms. The main attractions in the Dolmabachce Palace are the crystal chandelier, it is infact the largest Bohemian crystal chandelier in the world, gifted by the queen Victoria. We were completely mesmerised by its beauty and clicked many pictures to capture the beauty of it.
After loving what we had seen till that time, we moved on to our next point of interest, which was Basilica Cistern. We were excited to see this one as one of my friends told us to must visit this place to truly experience the architecture built in 16th century. The most astonishing part of this attraction was the two columns with the bases carved with the visage of Medusa.
Well, the day came to an end and we went to our hotels, talking about what all we explored that day and what we would be exploring the next day.
The third day of our trip had the visit to beaches of Istanbul, which the city is not famous for. However, if we get to know that there is a beach nearby, then there is no way we are missing them.
So, we headed towards the Princess Islands, which is encompassed with many tiny beaches. We decided on a day trip to the princess islands from Istanbul. There are 7 islands with 4 larger islands. We took a ferry from Kartal and reached at the ferries go to the four big islands, Heybeliada, Kinalidaa, Burgazada, and Buyukada. We specifically loved the Kinaliada island with the land coloured in reddish and brown because of the copper and iron mines here. The entire day went by in enjoying the beauty of these islands, waters, and the history as narrated to us by our guide.
The sunset looked really pretty while we were coming back to the city centre, it was indeed a nice quite day where we relaxed and were away from the city’s hustle and bustle.
The fourth day we wanted to take a tour to the city’s museums and other monuments of the city. So, we started the day by visiting the Galata Tower, the tower is popular for the breathtaking view it offers to its visitors from the top. It is located just opposite to the Golden horn. We went up and did have the spectacular views of the city, worth capturing in our cameras. My friend who had visited before to this place had also advised us about visiting the Istanbul Archaeology Museum, which is a home to million artefacts, and antique Turkish items. So, we visited the museum, which is huge and divided into three parts, depicting the carvings inspired by the life of Alexander and Sarcophagus, which depicts the panels of mourning women.
Heard a lot about the Hagia Sophia’s rich architecture and amusing history, we could not resist visiting the place. We believed what we heard when we saw it. The monument attracts so many people not just because of its architecture but also for the history attached to it. The monument was first built in the years between 532 and 537 as church and it remained church for many years, however, it was then changed to a mosque in the 1453 and remained as mosque till 1934. It has now become a popular tourist attraction and a museum.
After visiting the monuments and museums, we went to the Taksim Square, which is famous for lively and contemporary place of Istanbul, offering a variety of restaurants, clubs, and bars. You get to taste the real Europe at the Taksim Square. We spent our evening hopping eating joints and finally had a lavish dinner at Grand Hyatt.
Our last day had come and we had a flight back home at 4:00 PM. But before we could leave Istanbul, we wanted to experience Hamaam. Turkey is famous for its hamam baths, and believe me we had a great time there at the Hamam and got the taste of real Turkish experience through their massage.
All in all, it was lovely trip to Istanbul, which will always be cherished forever.