Just the name conjures up the exotic in this crossroads of Europe and Asia as we became total tourists for four days, having flown up from Didim before flying out to the US. The montages below that Katherine has crafted tell most of the story - we add just a few notes.
Classic ceramic tile work and street vendors with fresh pomegranate and tankards of tea surround the historic Aya Sofya church built by Emporer Justinian in 537, converted to a mosque by Ottoman Sultan Mehmet in 1453 and then to a museum by Ataturk in 1935. It's just down the street from the 1600's Blue Mosque with its six minarets - all of which and more were the view from our pension's rooftop dining. Makes you want to whirl like a dervish!
These scenes above are from the opulent Topkapi Palace, the home of the Ottoman Sultans from 1453 to 1839. The history and the artistry make it a magical place.
The Blue Mosque with its awe inspiring exterior, the blue tiles of the interior that give the building its unofficial name and the 260 windows surrounding the central prayer space. And, no, Katherine hasn't converted - that's awe in her eye.
Ah - the Grand Bazaar, with its tongue-in-cheek Shopping Mall sign. And it has it all - fruits, veggies, spices, baklava and other pastries, and the ever present blue "eyes" to ward off evil. We were struck with the dichotomy of the clothing - ultra conservative and plain full length dresses for the Muslim women next to gaudy and sexy night club garb, plus some fancy slippers - to wear under your burka, perhaps? Exotic indeed and the crowds were teaming.
Leaving the historic Sultanamet section of town and walking across the Bridge of the Golden Horn into the Beyoglu (say, Bay-oh-loo) section, we toured the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art where you see our intrepid photographer Katherine, well..photographing, and we have a great view looking across the Bosphorus to the Asian side of town. The old tram in Taksim takes you to the Galata tower. The two lower right scenes are back in the old section of Sultanamet with Aya Sofya and the old domed Turkish Baths.