Every time I go back to Istanbul, I think "well, I've already seen the Hagia Sophia so many times, I think this time I'll skip it." And every time, without fail, I always fall to temptation and enter again to marvel at its beauty.
The Hagia Sophia is, without a doubt, the heart of Istanbul; it's a jewel that's been fought over by countless armies over countless generations, a place where centuries of prayers seem to have lifted it to a realm of its own.
Whether as a church, mosque, or museum, its mission has always been to gather people together, whether in an act of religious devotion or simply to admire the architectural and artistic charms of this temple which still draws visitors from around the world.
Don't miss the chance to visit the upper galleries and lookouts which, in my opinion, are the best part. It's where they house the amazing mosaics of Jesus, Mary, and countless saints and from where you can admire the countless details of the ceiling, domes, and columns.
The Blue Mosque is one of the true gems of Istanbul and a masterpiece of Ottoman architecture. With its six minarets, 43-meter-tall dome, and exquisite interior featuring over 20,000 blue-hued Iznik tiles, the Sultan Ahmed Mosque will literally take your breath away.
Pick a spot in the corner on one of the huge red carpets and just admire the overlapping domes and half-domes, all surrounded by huge columns wrapped in white and blue.
The mosque is surrounded by walls and trees so if you really want to appreciate it's grandeur from outside, you'll need to move a little ways away to take it all in. One of the best views is the one had from the ships that head to Buyukada Island (it's where I took the picture). In short, the Blue Mosque is an Istanbul essential.
The colors, the smells and the babel of nationalities is dominant in the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul. The variety of colors that the eye can see is amazing. The goods are perfectly placed in stores to attract and seduce visitors into spending their. The smell is perceived as varied and intoxicating that takes us into the world of the Arabian Nights. And the variety of nationalities that swarms by is intricate and makes streets.
We had a great day and the trip was wonderful. We left the Besiktas dock, crossed the Bosphorus, and made a stop in Uskudar to pick up more passengers. For over an hour and a half, we toured the Asian side of Istanbul, where we saw the impressive houses along the coast where rich people, Turkish and foreign, live. On the way back, we saw the European side of the city and had nice views of Dolmabahçe Palace, Galatasaray University, and Ortakoy, the most modern city in the Beyoglu district. We also saw the headquarters of Turkish TV and the imposing Bogaziçi bridge which links the European and Asian sides of the city.
This Sultans' palace was built by the Sultan Mohammad II in 1462 and finished in 1478. It was the official residence of the Ottoman monarchs until 1855.
It's a must-see for its gardens, rooms which seems to be in a competition for most opulent decoration, amazing tile-work, impressive views, historical relics and gold, and the seemingly endless amount of small details that make it a truly unique place. I'd suggest taking your time to enjoy ever inch of it!
I'd also suggest getting there first thing in the morning (it gets crowded quickly) and keep in mind that you need two separate tickets: one for the palace and one for the harem. Despite the crowds and double-charging, it's still a really worthwhile visit.
Most of the travelers who come to Pamukkale do so to see the Travertine Pools. Although access to the pools and the baths are banned, it is thought that approaching them and wandering through the limestone formations to admire the turquoise waters and the white stone is healing in and of itself. It is striking contrast between the rough and very terrestrial landscape and these pools that seem made of snow whiter. A very special and ancient Romans knew and used as a summer resort, and quesus and the calcium rich waters are good for relaxing muscles and tendons.
One of Istanbul's most majestic historical monuments is undoubtedly the Basilica Cistern, built during the reign of Justinian I. It's sometimes referred to as the "Sunken Palace" due to the columns which rise up from the water. The "Basilica" part of the name comes from the fact that a basilica once stood on the spot where it was built.
The Basilica Cistern is 140 meters long by 70 meters wide and is reached by a 52-step staircase. Once inside, you are suddenly faced with 336 separate columns, each measuring 9 meters high, which are organized into 12 rows of 28 columns. Most of the columns were carved from a single piece of marble.The ground is made of bricks covered in Horsan plaster and can hold up to 100,000 tons of water. If you walk to the end and descend the steps, you'll find two columns whose bas-reliefs depict the head of Medusa. It's a curious find since no one knows exactly how or why it came to be.
According to popular belief, they once used these images of mythological beings to protect important buildings, and the face of Medusa was put at the farthest end so as not to petrify people when they entered. Another curious fact is that there are supposedly well openings in the basements of nearby homes which were once used to extract water. They even say there are houses whose basements contain entryways to previously unexplored parts of the Cistern.
As far as maintenance goes, they've done an excellent job. Lucky us as we can all enjoy the beauty and silence of this peaceful place.
The Galata Tower is hard to miss from downtown Istanbul. When you look across the river to Beyoğlu, you'll see it jutting out into the sky. I'd suggest crossing the Galata Bridge on food, checking out the morning fisherman, and stopping to have a quick tea at the shaded cafe at the intersection across the bridge. Head uphill (it's steep, but the small, winding corridors leading up the hill are charming in their own right) and you'll find the tower. The Galata Tower, in and of itself, is nothing special architecturally, but the views it offers of Istanbul and the Bosphorous, with the minarets dotting the horizon, will leave you speechless. The entry fee, if I remember correctly, is 12 lira per head. Try to go in the morning when the sky is clear and the hordes of Turkish schoolchildren haven't arrived, and you'll have the best view of the city all to yourself. Afterwards, I'd recommend exploring the neighborhood of Beyoğlu by heading up Istikal Avenue, taking a look at the music shops, grabbing some tea, and then heading down Tarlabaşı Blvd. to Taksim Square, the heart of modern Istanbul.
The Galata Bridge is the most famous of Istanbul. It represents the union of East and West, and in fact, unites these two worlds as the conceptual boundaries that have long marked. If you go to Istanbul, do not stop crossing, is symbolic ... And besides, the underside of the bridge is full of places to eat the delicious fish, smoking a shisha or drink tea even chill-out plan. Although fish snack bars, at the eastern end, are cheaper and equally rich... Moreover, if you approach the Galata Tower, climbing the steep streets (almost not necessary map, just go to your silhouette and ask if any villager loses sight), and go up to the terrace at the high, the views of Istanbul mosques and palaces will open before your eyes, and you think you're flying
We climbed into the balloon. It was pure adrenaline filled wind takes you to the bottom ... hahaha ... those photos have made non- . Then jump on the basket has some holes to put up and take a leap into flying seems that these firm ground on earth. To land depending drafts, you have to crouch to get stuck back into the basket. There are many strings to grab (or knew landing) slapped on a small hill then fall the basket and we were crawling through a field of vineyards, arraso with many vine, a sore back because I knew that must be supported on the basket. Although another time I uploaded balloon landing was standing clear left at dawn here in this country and was later air currents were very strong. The 100% Good Holiday!
Like the Grand Bazaar, the Egyptian Bazaar is known for being a place full of thousands of colors and smells as diverse and the people that visit it. There are lots of caviar shops and plenty of stands selling spices, sweets, and a variety of traditional foods. There are also some more modern shops selling fine porcelain and glass goods.
Ephesus is, without a doubt, the best preserved and most expansive ruined city I've ever seen. It's divided into two parts, a new city and old city as I understood it, that are connected by an amaizingly engraved marble road lined with statues and monuments. The ruins, as I mentioned, are enormous. It'll take you about 2 full hours to see just the most notable things, and maybe another 2 to explore all the nooks an crannies. This is another thing to mention: if you get a tour guide, it has its ups and downs. On one hand, they get you past the lines and give you some interesting, but not absolutely vital, information but they also tend you rush you from monument to monument. They sometimes lead you down a road and you notice there is an entire neighborhood of ruins on both sides that you're not exploring. Apparently, Ephesus was the empire's biggest, most thriving city before the founding of Constantinople, and you can really understand why. It's beautiful: nestled in the hills with the crystal blue Aegean see only a short walk away. Things to see: the Library (with it's hidden tunnel to to brothel), the massive Colloseum, and the carved walkways. Don't miss it in your trip down the Aegean coast!
This beautiful mosque located just across from the University of Istanbul is one of the hidden treasures of the city. The fact that it's not in the über-touristy neighborhood of Sultanahmet means that many people gloss over it entirely. One of the advantages of the Süleymaniye Mosque is that there's no entrance fee and the lack of crowds means you can enjoy its interior in peace and quiet. Keep in mind that this is not the touristy Blue Mosque where it seems like anything goes...this is an active mosque where silence and respect are required.
The mosque stands out for its grand size and the simplicity of its decorative elements. Also, you can have a delicious tea in its interior courtyard for less than 1 euro. after an afternoon of shopping in the Bazaar and the hustle and bustle of Beyazit square, watching the sunset from the courtyard of the mosque is a wonderful experience.
I'm not sure if I'd rank it as the best part of Cappadocia, but the Fairy Chimneys are definitely the most unique and spectacular part. These formations are representative of the region and being there is an unforgettable experience. The "peribacalar" (Fairy Chimneys) were formed by the erosion of the layer of limestone covering the volcanic rock. This left them in spindly formations which are now called "chimneys." Some of them are over 40meters high! They're cone-shaped and are crowned by tufts of hard stone standing over the pale pillars. Depending on how you look at them (and your mindset) they either look like massive phalluses or bizarre mushrooms. Locally, they're known as "kalelar" ("castles," in Turkish). In Cappadocia, you can see these formations and many others (near Zelve, there's a mountain of rocks in the shape of giant breasts).
Without a doubt, it was one of the coolest parts of my trip to Turkey. The contrast of these impossible natural structures with the arid, ochre landscape gave me the most unique, otherworldly sensation of anywhere in Turkey. Visiting Cappadocia before May is, for many, synonymous with being really cold. It's true that each region in Turkey has its own climate, and there can be differences of as much as 40 degrees between the regions on the Aegean and those in the interior. But, visiting in the off-season has its charms. Firstly, there are much less tourists and this lets you visit the region in a somewhat more relaxed pace and alleviates any concerns you might have about finding transportation or a hotel. Secondly, Cappadocia in the snow is incredible. The contrast of the snow on the dark earth is so amazing it feels like you're on a movie set or something. It's like being on the moon. So I recommend visiting Cappadocia in the off season...but, of course, dress warm!
One of the most beautiful mosques of Istanbul. When you see it from the outside, it seems that it's not going to be as big and beautiful inside but the interior is wonderful, arches, walls, domes, absolutely everything is gorgeous.
If you get to Ephesus (Turkey), you can delight yourself with what the Romans left as a legacy, when they dominated these distant lands it was actually the golden era of Ephesus. Ephesus is a giant open-air museum. You will walk by Agora high and low, pass through the largest amphitheater of antiquity with seating for 30,000 spectators, the impressive entrance of the Library of Celsus, what remains of the Temple of Artemis, the marble road, flanked by magnificent columns, another smaller amphitheater (the Odeon) and even the remains of a public toilet (see the pictures attached). They say it's always warm, and of course the day I went it was too much, so don't forget to cover your head and bring plenty of water to drink. You'll love it.
The Chora Church is located in the outskirts of Istanbul and, while it's a ways away from the city's main points of interest, it's still a must if you're traveling to Istanbul. The church was built in the 4th century and subsequently rebuilt over the years; the current incarnation was finished in the 9th century.
It was originally a Christian church which was converted into a mosque once the Ottomans took control of Constantinople. It had beautiful frescoes on the dome and interior walls but they were painted over and a minaret was added. The church also has several smaller chapels which give it an irregular shape (a fact which is easily appreciated once you reach the rear of the church).
Today, the mosaics and frescoes have been uncovered once again and they represent one of the highlights of the Byzantine Renaissance. The most impressive frescoes are found in the funerary chapel and the dome.
The entrance fee is 10 Turkish lira and it's open from 9:30am to 4:30pm except Wednesdays.
The most magical time of the day in Göreme is at sunset when the beautiful fairy chimneys and rock-cut houses are all illuminated. At 10:30pm, the streets become deserted and you only a few stray backpackers wandering the street. These silent streets are filled with mystery and could easily be the setting for any of your favorite childhood fairy tales....you wouldn't be surprised to see a witch or dwarf pop around the corner. Its so beautiful that literally any picture you take will be spectacular. It is well worth it to visit Capadoccia just to see the Göreme at night. It's an indescribable place that is unlike anything I'd ever seen before.