Monday, June 25, 2012

Treasures of Istanbul

Hello from the mystical city of Istanbul...I stopped by this historic Turkish wonder during my travels this past week. Istanbul is a melting pot of European and Asian heritage, these two culturally-rich continents are separated only by the deep blue Bosphorus Strait. The opulent architecture of the Old City is richly influenced by Byzantine and Ottoman designs. Grand mosques, bustling bazaars, steaming Turkish baths and museums that house sacred relics from centuries ago. Then there is the other side of Istanbul - the New City, flecked with hip hotels, fine dining restaurants, shopping malls and buzzing night spots. 

It's the best of both worlds; ancient and modern, classic and upwardly mobile, old traditions collide with 21st century technology, and through it all, Istanbul's practice of time-honoured hospitality has remained an integral part of it's steadfast foundation. The best way to explore the city is on one of the many Hop-on Hop-off sightseeing buses. Which is when I got to capture some of these important historical sites.

The Blue Mosque, which probably the most iconic landmark in Istanbul, has towered over the city since the 1600's. The eight domes and six minarets that are perfectly proportionate, the faint blue tiles gave the name to this palatial monument.

The half-hour long queues to enter the Topkapi Palace was an indication of how intriguing and fascinating it would be. The Ottoman empire ruled for three centuries from within the grandiose walls of this castle. Inside is a spectacular treasury of artifacts worth far more than it's weight in 22-carat gold. Lavish thrones and everyday household objects that were carved from solid gold and silver, encrusted with rubies, diamonds and emeralds the size of your mobile. Unfortunately they do not allow photographs to be taken inside the museum and is under constant security. Jewel thieves and everything. 


Walking underground in the icy chambers of the Basilica Cistern was like being on the set of The Vampire Diaries. Built in the 6th century and held up by 336 Corinthian-style columns, the cistern was used to store water. A strange but very interesting feature of this reservoir are the two upside-down heads of the Greek mythological character, Medusa. It's most likely that her presence was to ward off evil spirits in those ancient times.

The exotic scents of earthy spices and rose-water, pistachio rolled Turkish delight led me to Egyptian Spice Bazaar, and from there, the famous Grand Bazaar, where I tried (very unsuccessfully) to haggle my way to a not-so genuine original imitation Birkin bag. There are 4400 indoor sidewalk stores selling silk pashminas in every imaginable shade, enticing pieces of jewellery, leather jackets in all styles, luxurious Persian rugs and local handicrafts. 


A traveler's street side view of the Hagia Sophia, once a church, a mosque and now a museum, it retains features of both Roman and Ottoman architecture. With an awe-inspiring 56m dome, antiquated chandeliers, intricate mosaic finishings, sturdy pillars and soaring arches, the 'Aya Sofya' is one of most extraordinary historic buildings in Turkey.

The serene blue waters of the Bosphorus waterway.

A marvelous vista over Istanbul in a very warm 34 degrees. A city of many faces and traditions, the ripples of it's captivating history has made way for a very exciting future and a present which is just that, 'A Gift'.

*All photographs by me. 

41 comments:

Sabrina Musco said...

beautiful pics!!!!

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Adeola Naomi said...

WOOOOOOOOW!!!!
I need to go and see this beauty Istanbul is offering!
Have a great week dear!
I accidentally delete a comment of yours :-( so sad and sorry!!!

LifeStyle Journal by Kate Frenkel said...

I've been to Istanbul once (3 years ago)!!!
It's unbelievable how old and historically rich this city!!! There are a huge number of thing to see there!!!
I'd be so happy to travel to Turkey one more time!!! Beautiful country!!!
Kate

Rahul Bhatia said...

Lovely place, Istanbul! I am sure you must have thoroughly enjoyed your stay ! A visual delight of a post, Sam:)

Kim (A Very Sweet Blog) said...

Sam, it is EXQUISITE! I am loving the architecture! Thank you so much for sharing and I can see you had a marvelous time.
http://www.averysweetblog.com/

Ember Drake said...

Oh wow you're pictures are gorgeous! I really need to go travelling sometime soon - Istanbul is definitely on my list to visit now!

Em
x

http://emberdrake.blogspot.co.uk

Cinnamon and White Chocolate said...

So beautiful pictures! I was in Istanbul last spring and I loved it, Hagia Sophia is one the most beautiful historical building I have ever seen...You reminded me of some fabulous times! Thanks for sharing! Ilina

Josie said...

It looks absolutely beautiful! xxx

Lilli said...

Morning Sam! WOW! This seems such a beautiful city! I would love to visit it one day! Thanks for sharing, the photos are really great! Hope you have a nice day dear!:) Kisses!

Hello Naka said...

omg if the sea near me was so blue i would deffinatly be able to swim XD

Denise said...

Oh, yu are back, are you? I missed your daily posts sooo much! I know you posted some, and although they were very interesting, I love to read your posts everyday! But well, you deserved vacations and they seemed to be fantastic! First the Alhambra palace, now Istanbul! I am sure it was amazing! And I'm sure you went to many other great places!
The pictures are great, and your descriptions too!
So now, welcome back! Guess what, it's "renewing document" day today!!!! So excited!

Dominika said...

You have no idea how jealous I am, I really love travelling and haven't been anywhere for almost a year. Istanbul looks like such a wonderful place, what's your next destination? Make the most of it!

http://glamourxkills.blogspot.com

Punctuation Mark said...

What a beautiful country... Always wanted to go there!

Cara said...

I've been wanting to go there and your pictures only make that want stronger! What a beautiful city! Enjoy your time :D

Jayme and Mendi said...

So excited to see your photos!! They are gorgeous! Hope you are having a wonderful time!!

Jayme & Mendi @ Her Late Night Cravings

Roberta said...

WOW Istanbul is Magic!
http://robertascoolestplaces.blogspot.com.es/

Sootjeelina said...

It looks beautiful! I want to visit it so bad

xoxo Sootjeelina

Indistinctive Writer said...

Hi Sam! Oh I so envy your travels! Turkey look amazing in your photos. ^_^ I like the architecture in Istanbul; so unique!

have a great trip! ^_^

The Jones said...

SUCH a fun post...I love reading about other places around the world, and these pictures made me want to travel there today!

<3 Cambria
jupefashion.blogspot.com

VintageDanielle said...

So stunning, I've never seen such gorgeous photos! I'm sure this is a trip of a lifetime.

Daphnée Kwong Waye said...

Wow! Epic photos! You sure had a great time :)

http://daphyin-makeupisart.blogspot.com

Nuar said...

OMGGG, Sam!!
How beautiful!!! I would love to visit Istanbul some day!! It's certainly a fascinating culture, with loads of treasures to discover and amazing experiences to live.
I'm happy for you had a wonderful time there! And thanks for sharing these pieces of the magic with us!
XOXO,
María José
http://nuarbarcat.blogspot.com.ar/

Oh to Be a Muse said...

Best of both worlds, indeed. I love the ancient architecture with the modern accents like the bridge. And the water...wow!

Style, She Wrote said...

Looks like an amazing trip! Thanks for letting us travel vicariously through you! xo style, she wrote

Bonnie said...

Istanbul looks gorgeous! I wish I could see it in person -- maybe someday!

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Twitter: @GlamKitten88

Fabliha said...

I'll be in Istabul soon! I can't wait it looks so beautiful
xxx

INSIDE IN, INSIDE OUT 

jamie said...

woww.. this is just sooo amazing!! i bet you never wanted to leave :) you took some lovely photos, sam!

Shahrzād said...

my friend went there, she love the country and this city!
beautiful landscapes.

http://leguidedelama.blogspot.com

Marie Martell said...

Wow! These pics are beautiful, thanks for sharing! Hope your having a wonderful time! Thanks for stopping by darling :)

xo Marie
http://nyorkeratheart.blogspot.com

TheUrbanUmbrella said...

Wow Istanbul looks amazing! Your pictures seriously capture such beauty! I must go there one day!
xx







The Urban Umbrella

xoxo



http://www.theurbanumbrella.com/

two birds said...

what beautiful pictures! i would love to travel here...it's so full of history!

The Chic Sheet said...

These pictures are beautiful! What an amazing place!


XX,
Miranda

*Glam Chameleon* said...

Istanbul is still on my must-to-visit-places list, one of the main reasons is bazaar!:D I hope you're having great time darling, and that you enjoy in each second!! Missing you!;) kisses

Dee said...

Such wonderful photos:) Need to go there at some point:)

Well... said...

SO. JEALOUS!
Haha, it seems like all my fave bloggers are traveling to amazing places. I'm craving a trip!
For now I'll have to live through other's pictures ;)
These are fantastic, thanks so much for sharing!

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Rikki said...

beautiful pictures! Istanbul looks amazing im sure you must have had a great time!:) thanks for sharing hun xx

Audrey (hkittygirl) said...

I went to Istanbul last summer and I loved all the food there. The architecture was beautiful and everything felt so magical there. Doesn't the cistern remind you of Phantom of the Opera a bit? ^^

Lila Moonlight said...

Ohh how nice to see posts about my home town : ) Thank you for it : ) I like the things you share on your blog : )

http://lilamoonlight.blogspot.it/

Fashion-Bridge said...

I heard that it's a fantastic city and your pictures are the best proof! I'd love to go there one day! I'm happy that you had there such a fantastic time!

Xx

Alexandra

www.fashion-bridge.blogspot.com

Filipa said...

Fantastic illustration of an amazing city!!... istanbul is really a wonder that mixes two cultures in a perfect way! ;)

Lolita in the Mix said...

Wow amazing pictures! I've only been there once and it was frezzing cold, love to go there again with more time in summer time!

xoxo lorena

http://www.lolitainthemix.blogspot.com