History has recorded mysterious, seductive marks on the second most populous city in the world. Today, with its convenient air and waterways network and open visa policy from the government, Istanbul in Turkey welcomed 52.5 million visitors in 2019, ranking 6th in the world in the number of tourists visiting.
Everything you need to know
Arriving in Istanbul one autumn afternoon, I climbed to the Galata Tower, the tallest ancient building in the city, just in time for sunset. Light rain from the afternoon clouds does not cover the sun that is gradually disappearing. Four sides are the great majestic mosques. The prayer of the Koran resounds throughout the city with more than 13 million people. Just like when I heard the Buddhist scriptures, the teachings of life, though completely incomprehensible, felt peaceful and protected by the divine force that purified my soul.
Galata Tower – Istanbul Source: Internet
The Hagia Sophia, Istanbul. Source: Internet
The day before, I pay another visit to a famous and amazing monument – Hagia Sophia. Situated in the center of Istanbul, this is a large temple and has mixed architecture of the Christian church and the mosque. In addition to the glass windows and thatched roofs of typical Christian colors. When looking at the center, a little below is a large window of Islam leading straight towards Mecca. That day a religious researcher told a story that this church once belonged to the Roman empire. After the conquest of Sultan Mehmed II in 1453, the church was changed to serve Islamic rituals.
The architecture inside Hagia Sofia Source: Google
Christian mosaic icon in the Hagia Sofia. Source: iStock Photo
Mihrab – Wall of Praying (Qibla) directing to Mecca Source: Flickr
In general, Ottoman architecture is a combination of the traditional architecture of the Mediterranean and the Middle East, reaching a very high level, the Ottomans mastered the art of building large spaces inside giant domes, achieving the perfect harmony between the interior and the exterior as well as the layout of light and shadow. Mosque spaces are often narrow and dark with covering walls. Under the ottoman era, they were transformed through a dynamic architectural language of cellars, arches, semi-arches, and columns… into a solemn and delicate cathedral preserving the balance between aesthetics and technology. All of these factors remind visitors of a transcendent energy source of heaven and Earth.
The colors of the Persian market
Istanbul is a city with many famous landmarks, one of which is the largest indoor market in the world of Grand Bazaar. This place used to be the setting for many famous movies such as 007-Skyfall, Taken. Visitors can walk from Hagia Sofia to the Grand Bazaar and have a shopping experience. It is worth noting that the gold, jewelry, and foreign exchange shops in the Grand Bazaar market offer the best currency exchange services in the city. The huge market is full of items from jewelry to antique maps, elaborate woven rugs, and even an Aladdin’s magic lamp is something you can find.
Visitors will be surprised to enjoy the feeling of being lost in the Persian market of the story of Arabian night. Grand Bazaar is too huge for visitors to get lost if you don’t have a map with you, immerse yourself in the flow of people and don’t forget to buy some small souvenirs before leaving.
Istanbul textile shops Source: Internet
Kebap, tea, and shisha
Talking about the culinary culture of Turkey in general and Istanbul in particular, it is impossible not to mention Kebab, tea, and Shisha. The traditional Kebab dish including grilled beef or lamb served with rice or wrapped in a flour bread crust is known worldwide as the national spirit dish of the land of a flying carpet.
Besides, hot tea cups called Spicy are available throughout the city, from sidewalk restaurants to luxury restaurants. Sitting and drinking tea, smoking Shisha, and chatting on the street or the harbor with locals is a great way to observe and learn about the life of people in Istanbul.
The people who live here are mostly Muslim. They have faith, honest, cheerful, do not hesitate to throw bread crumbs to feed the pigeons, ready to guide and help strangers and lend even fishing rods.
You will have the opportunity to enjoy beautiful days in Istanbul. Under the sweet Mediterranean sunlight, golden lights on the small streets covered with laterite, unforgettable magical emotions when watching the fireworks, flowers on the port of Bosphorus, Where a boat connects the two European – Asian banks.