Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.Anonymous
After an enthralled visit to Cappadocia,we were at the cultural hub of Turkey – Istanbul. Istanbul, earlier known as Constantinople, was the nerve centre of the Romans initially and then the Ottomans. Istanbul bridges Asia and Europe both physically and culturally.
We were up bright and early and off on our way as we had to see as much of Istanbul in a day. We were staying very close to the Blue Mosque and were more comfortable to explore Istanbul on foot. A few minutes of stroll across the beautiful Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia (Read more) and we were at the Topkapi palace.
The Topkapi Palace is the biggest and one of the most popular sites to visit in Istanbul. It was built in between 1466 and 1478 by the Sultan Mehmet II on top of a hill in a small peninsula, dominating the Golden Horn to the north. Topkapı is the subject of more colourful stories than most of the world’s museums put together. Libidinous sultans, ambitious courtiers, beautiful concubines and scheming eunuchs lived and worked here between the 15th and 19th centuries when it was the court of the Ottoman Empire. A visit to the palace’s opulent pavilions, jewel-filled treasury and sprawling Harem gives a fascinating glimpse into their lives.
The palace is quite huge and keep at least 3-4 hours to see it. It has sprawling beautiful gardens, harem, imperial treasury and absolutely stunning views over the Bosphorus.
We then headed to the Basilica Cistern – one of the hidden gems of Istanbul. This subterranean structure was commissioned by Emperor Justinian and built in 532. The largest surviving Byzantine cistern in Istanbul, it was constructed using 336 columns. Its symmetry and sheer grandeur of conception are quite breath-taking, and its cavernous depths make a great retreat on summer days.
Walking along its raised wooden platforms, you’ll feel water dripping from the vaulted ceiling and see schools of ghostly carp patrolling the water – it certainly has bucket loads of atmosphere.
Two Heads of Medusa, which are used as the bases of two columns, in the north western corner of the cistern, are masterpieces of the art of sculpture during the Roman period. The Cistern has now been made ever more famous for appearing at the climax of the recent Dan Brown Thriller – Inferno.
We did stop by to take few pics as Sultan and Begum here. Not sure why I did this honestly but yes it’s a memory and now hangs proudly in my living room.
No trip to Istanbul is complete without a cruise on the Bosphorus. Bosphorus is a natural strait connecting the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara, thus being a very strategic waterway – the world’s narrowest strait used for international navigation. It forms part of the continental boundary between Europe and Asia, and separates Asian Turkey from European Turkey.
We opted for the short cruise with sights of the Bosphorus Bridge, Galata Tower, Dolmabahce Palace and Rumeli Fortress (Rumeli Hisari) from Bosphorus. This was quite a relaxing cruise and the blue waters, mighty ships navigating the Bosphorous and history jotted all over the shores makes it all the more worthwhile and it was just 12Turkish Lira.
Explore our Istanbul exploration here – Click here
Read more about my food journey in turkey – Click here.
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