Howdy all, and today I though would turn attention to a country which has been growing in popularity as a destination in the last year or so, and that is Türkiye, and to be more precise, the amazing city of Istanbul, formerly Constantinople. Although the capital moved a long time ago now to Ankara, Istanbul remains Türkiye’s biggest city, the most visited city, and probably its most beautiful city too!
The only city in the world to straddle two continents (oh and doesn’t that get mentioned a lot? See, I just mentioned it then!), it’s a pretty special city that encompasses many eras of world history, many architectural styles, has great places to eat, is handily located for any stopover consideration between Europe and Asia, and is the hub for one of the world’s biggest airlines, Türkiye Airlines. Oh did you notice the name of the country? ‘Türkiye’ is the new name for the former Turkey. And the national airline really does have one of the most comprehensive networks out there, servicing so many cities and countries worldwide. The only airline I can think of off the top of my head that has a similar network is Emirates.
Anyways, Istanbul is a brilliant city that mixes cultures and histories together, in a beautiful waterfront setting, amazing architecture, trams to get you around and a special old city section. One of the highlights is walking over the bridge over the Bospherus Straight past the fishermen trying there luck in the murky water below.
But why is Istanbul the destination of the month? Well because it’s really one of the cities in the world you must visit in your lifetime! Because of these highlights –
1/ Sultanhet Area/Old Town.
This is a great place in Istanbul to stay whilst you are there. A lot of people do stay there and yes, it’s very touristy but get up to the second floor and you can see the Bospherus Straight, it’s perfectly located for exploring the highlights of the area by foot (to follow) and there’s a great vibe and plenty of places to eat there.
2/ The Hagia Sofia
This is now a mosque, but it was a museum when I was there, before that a mosque and before that a church. Not many buildings were converted from church to mosque before, and it tells the story of the history of city which once was the seat of power in Byzantine times, then the centre for the Ottoman Empire. Also it’s big, beautiful and very impressive, probably the most impressive building in Istanbul.
3/ The Blue Mosque
A short walk from the Hagia Sofia, sitting kind of opposite, these two buildings form the nexus of this part of Istanbul. It’s a beautiful mosque, worthy of some time and although not to the same scale of the Hagia Sofia, remains an incredible building where actually inside it’s incredibly peaceful.
4/ Cisterna Basilica
This is a little gem not too far from the Hagia Sofia that not everyone knows about – I only went because some others at my hostel had heard about it and invited me. Columns and lights underground where water was and is stored today with classical music echoing around it make it a very lovely place to wander, explore and just ‘be’.
5/ Taksim Square and surrounds
Outside of the Old City Istanbul bustles and hustles like any other European city. Taksim Square is a place that lights up and people meet at, there is shopping to be had and much more.
6/ Topkapi Palace
I’ve seen a couple of posts on this, I sadly didn’t visit it but it looks beautiful. There are a couple of palaces and museums in Istanbul, and I hope to go back and explore them one day!
7/ City Walls
Get out from the centre of town and you will find the remnants of city walls, bits and pieces of the walls in various conditions. They can be climbed to some extent and explored, and you get a little look into suburban Istanbul too in these parts which is something that is quite unique I guess!
So Istanbul. Wonderfully located – come from Asia, the Middle East or even Africa, make your way to Eastern Europe! Or Vice Versa. Use it to launch into an exploration of Eastern Europe or indeed of Turkey! You won’t be disappointed in its offerings, they are surprising and worth while! Hence Istanbul is July’s ‘Destination of the Month’. Although right now, pretty hot. But cooler than most of Turkey!
Thanks for joining me today, take care wherever you may be, and… (drumroll) May the Journey Never End!