Turkey is one of my favorite countries to visit. Why wouldn’t it be? The country is rich with culture, impressive and lengthy history, amazing landscape and architecture, and offers one of a kind destination. Our trip consists of visiting Kusadasi, Pamukkale and Istanbul in just two weeks.
ISTANBUL – the city that connects the Asian and European continent. While staying in Istanbul, we were able to visit some of the main attraction in the city:
BOSPHORUS: Forms part of the continental boundary between Europe and Asia that also separates the Asian Turkey from European Turkey. It is also home to grand places of the Ottoman royalty, old castles, and rich summerhouse. The best way to enjoy and explore the famous architecture of Byzantine and Ottoman is taking a boat cruise through the Bosphorus strait.
Two of the best and most famous market in Istanbul:
1) GRAND BAZAAR– The largest covered market as they call it and the oldest shopping area in Turkey. Here you will find anything from clothing and accessories, pottery, teas, crockery, carpet and rugs, textiles, antiques, jewelry, gifts and souvenirs and the list goes on. Make sure to check out this market when you are in Istanbul and be sure to negotiate the price of an item you want to buy before caving in.
2) EGYPTIAN BAZAAR (also known as the “spice market”) – If you love spices, spice market is the place to go. Spices are not the only thing they offer; they also have Turkish teas in every color and flavor, dried fruits, baklava, oils and essence.
***GALATA TOWER: Located on the north of the Golden Horn’s junction of Bosphorus is this famous medieval stone tower. This cylindrical tower with its conical cap is the tallest structure in the city. From the top, you will see a 360 degree panoramic view of the city with its major sites such as Hagia Sofia, the Blue Mosque and Tokpaki Palace.
***HAGIA SOPHIA: Located just across the Blue Mosque lies the famous Hagia Sophia. Once used as a Byzantine church then converted into an imperial mosque is now a museum. Its unique architectural domed monument, figural mosaics, calligraphic panes, loge, marble pillars and covering make it a famous tourist spot.
***TOPKAPI PALACE: Once a former imperial residence of the Ottoman Sultans and their court, now open to public as a Museum. Topkapi Palace offers a lengthy and impressive history from the birth of the Ottoman Empire down to the successions of other leaders. It unravels the true mysteries of the Ottoman royalty. In order to fully experience Topkapi Palace, give time to visit the Harem (home to Sultan’s wives, concubines, servants both eunuch male and female). You will need to pay 15 TL upon entry which I think is reasonable.
***BLUE MOSQUE: One of the most captivating mosques to date.The name of the mosque which derives from its handmade Iznik blue tiles interior design is one of the most captivating working mosques to date. The exterior feature consists of fascinating cascade of domes and the unusual six minarets. Since the mosque is still an active place of worship, it is closed to visitors during the six daily prayers. Take note that only Muslims are admitted through the main door. With that said, enter the Blue Mosque from the Hippodrome (West side); this is also the best way to fully take in the beauty and the architecture of the mosque.
***BASILICA CISTERN: Also known as “Sunken Palace” lies underneath the Stoa Basilica supported by striking underground marble columns and pillars and its fascinating carvings. Probably the most interesting and most intriguing feature of the cistern is the two mammoth Medusa heads one positioned upside down and the other one on the side. The Medusa heads are used as pedestals for columns and support for the vaulted ceiling which are located in the far corner of the Cistern.
***The Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque and Basilica Cistern are located close to each other so plan to visit these places in a day or two to save you time and energy.
***DOLMABAHE PALACE: Built to replace Topkapi Palace, the dolmabahce palace is located on the European coastline of the Bosphorus strait. This jaw dropping palace is extensively decorated with crystals and gold and has the largest collection of Bohemian and Baccarat crystal chandeliers in the world. The Bohemian crystal chandelier found at the centre of the hall in the palace was a gift from Queen Victoria of England.
For me, the best part of the palace is the famous Crystal Staircase all in the shape of a double horseshoe is made of mahogany, brass and Baccarat crystal. Walking the staircase feels like walking in a dreamland. It is unfortunate that tourists are not allowed to take pictures inside this luxurious palace.
Weather: Some days sunny and some days rainy/colder during our ten day stay in Istanbul in September. For most days, it was pleasantly sunny. Plan to pack a mixture of light clothing and warm clothing if you are planning to travel in September.
What I really like most about this town is the ridiculous number of shops where you can find many souvenirs, jewelries, carpets, leathers, bags, clothes, shoes, glasses and many more. These goods are surprisingly of good quality despite its inexpensive cost. Our hotel is located right in front of the ocean so we have ocean view all throughout our stay. From Kusadasi, we took a bus tour to visit the ancient Ephesus – an ancient Greek city. The town is filled with historical site and breathtaking monument. The Ephesus Library is my favorite site as it is made of marble and decorated with figures of Eros, Nike, Rosettes and garlands in relief.
We were also able to visit Pamukkale while staying in Kusadasi. Pamukkale is the highlight of our visit in Turkey. The city’s hot springs and travertines, and the terraces of carbonate minerals left by the flowing water is absolutely astonishing. I have never seen such beauty in my life.
Weather: The weather is pleasant and sunny during our stay in Kusadasi, trip to Pamukkale and trip to Ephesus.