This is a truly beautiful city and very easy for tourists to travel around. I have been blessed with a bright, sunny day in the mid 20s and it is a delight to wander around. The morning starts with a cab ride to the 16th century Galata Tower built 400 years ago it has magnificent morning views across the Bosporus to the heart of Istanbul.
Mosques dominate the city skyline which stretches to the Mediterranean in the distance. Late morning I lose Anthony and James as they are flying home and suddenly I am solo again. Setting a cracking pace, I see pretty much all that Istanbul has to offer.
The Grand bazaar in the heart of Istanbul is one of the largest covered markets in the world. Completed in 1730 it is a shopper’s dream with goods for both local and tourist tastes.
For me the spice market sends my senses reeling with intoxicating scents and a riot of colour.
The iconic Blue Mosque sadly is marred by restoration work. One of its minarets is covered in scaffolding and the insides are half covered up with renos. Sadly for me this is an oft repeated phenomenon in Istanbul and makes for challenging photography.
The Hagia Sofia was initially a Catholic Cathedral built by the Roman emperor Justinian for what was then Constantinople in 537 AD. It was famous for its massive dome, the largest of its time. Subsequently it was converted into a mosque by the Ottomans. Walking into this space, even with the renovations takes my breath away. This is a massive structure.
In the large parkland space between the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sofia there is the Egyptian Obelisk of Theodosius and the walled obelisk attributed to emperor Constantine V11 in the 10th century.
The Topkapi Palace sits behind the Hagia Sofia and is the final masterpiece in this amazing area. It was completed in the 1500s and was the residence of all of the Ottoman Sultans.
Below the Hagia Sofia is another tourist feature that delivers in spades and is also a popular setting for a variety of movies. The Basilica cistern was built in the 5th century AD. Built by 7000 slaves this massive underground chamber is 9800 square metres in area and can hold 80000 cubic metres of water. It was built to provide water for the gardens above. It featured in a number of movies, most notably in James Bond’s “From Russia with Love” and Dan Brown’s Inferno where the medusa column bases formpart of the storyline.
Fisherman line the Galata bridge daily to fish the Bosphorous. Having walked over the bridge a number of times there never seems to be anything of significance in those buckets.
Views from the Galata Bridge
Finally, if there is a famous train involved I will invariably sniff it out. Of course the Orient express terminated in Istanbul and what is now Sirkeci station is where these 19th century adventurers “landed”.