Tour of Istanbul

Intro

I took a three day trip to Turkey, and on one day I had am 8-hour walking tour of Istanbul. The tour ended up being me, the guide, and one other person. I saw a lot on my tour, so I want to talk about 5 of my favorite sights.

The Blue Mosque

The interior of the Blue Mosque features 4 pillars in the corners, but has many others that have been added for design purposes, such as the ones in the picture above.

The Blue Mosque was one of my favorite sights of the day. There was a lot of history behind it, including its competition with the neighboring Hagia Sophia, the reason there are 6 minarets outside it, and the reason that it is called the Blue Mosque. The Blue Mosque is something I would recommend that everyone visit because it is so close to so many things, it is free, and one can learn a lot about history and culture there.

The Grand Bazaar

One of 22 entrances to the Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar officially has 4000 stores. In addition, there are 3000 stores on the streets around it. In total the Grand Bazaar has 7000 stores, making it just a little bit bigger than the malls I am used to hanging out at. There are stores selling a varity of items, from rugs to fidget spinners, at varying levels of quality. You can buy jewelery, fake designer brands, real designer brands, suits, and more. The Grand Bazaar is a spectacle, and if you are ever in Istanbul a visit there is required.

Underground City

Istanbul is home to an underground city. Literally. Under almost the entire city there are tunnels that are part of an ancient city that have had various purposes at different times in history. Unfortunately, nowadays these tunnels are home to a lot of homeless people and drug deals, so a lot of the enterances are being blocked off, but you can still see some parts. I went to a waterway that features two Medusa heads that are upside down. In the past, these heads served as protectors from invaders, but today they just protect tourists from not having something to take a selfie with.

Horse Square

One of the obelisks in the Horse Square

In Istanbul, there used to be a lot of horse races. They would feature chariots led by 4 horses. This used to be done in a square that also hosted parties, executions, gladiator fights, and more. Today, there are two obelisks, one of which was partially rebuilt after one of several invasions into Turkey, and the other which is still standing. There are still a lot of horse races in Turkey, but they are held at Veliefendi race course.

Sultan’s Palace

The Sultan’s chair in his office

I saved the Sultan’s Palace for last because it was the last place I visited, as well as my favorite part of the tour. The Sultan’s palace is now a museum that features artifacts from all over the world, including relics from Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. There is a display of where the Sultan used to have meetings with his advisors, where he used to work, and a kitchen that puts those granite countertops you see on HGTV to shame. To visit some parts, such as the Harem, or “woman section” of the palace will cost more than the initial 72 TL ticket. The Sultan’s palace really inspired me to become a sultan one day.

Conclusion

You can not see all of Istanbul in one day, or even one year, but if you are fortunate enough to visit, you should go see these 5t sights:

  • The Grand Bazar
  • Any part of the Underground City
  • The Blue Mosque
  • The old horse track
  • The SUltan’s Palace (Topkapi Palace)

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