On that bright beautiful day, me and my friend had made a list of places we so eagerly wanted to visit. With the help of our legs, reliable Istanbul Tram and friendly people, we got to taste Istanbul, if not Turkey for that one special day. We came, we saw, and we conquer Istanbul!
For the ease of following through the narratives of places I visited, I also put the map below. It was definitely not an easy task to pick what to saw and visited since there were just so many beautiful places with so little time we had (classic problem of traveler).
The famous Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Mosque)
When first I decided to go to Istanbul, I thought Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia are the same building and it’s the only one with such a unique dome. But then I found out that the two are different and that most of mosque in Turkey have similar dome designs. But truly, they’re both almost similar. By looking at the building itself, Blue Mosque actually has two domes and six minarets whereas Hagia Sophia has One big Dome and four minarets. Aside from the difference, both are equally majestic and surreal.
So, after we had a breakfast, we directly went to Blue Mosque (although it wasn’t open yet). Basically we just walked around the mosque complex and admired the magnificent of each of its edges and curves.
Believe it or not, we were quite lucky to get a Hotel that literally 5 minutes walk from Blue Mosque, and guess what ?! Our breakfast area has the direct view to Blue Mosque. We stayed at Star Holiday Hostel in Sultanahmed and it was probably the best choice for us if not for all traveler who means to travel around the complex. (it also helps that the bell boy is strikingly handsome 😉 ). The room price is reasonable as well.
Within 10 minute walk after getting out from Blue Mosque, we arrived at Topkapi Palace. It was around 9 am and there were so many people already outside the entrance waiting for the door to be opened and there were some people queuing tickets.
Topkapi Palace was built during Ottoman Empire and remained a Sultan Palace for about 400 years until the Sultans started to prefer staying in Dolmabahce Palace around 17th century. The palace is very wide and it’s a place we can get lost within. There are several courtyard and many other buildings. It was a home to 4000 people. Each building has a unique architecture and the interior is astonishing. The Ottoman art and design pretty much stamped in every murals, interiors, patterns, and choose of color.
Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya)
Basilica Cistern is probably the most interesting place I have ever visited. It is very intriguing to discover the place. As the name indicate, its located above the ground (so yes, it was very dark down there) and its very Old. It was built in 3rd to 4th century during Roman empire. The Cistern is supported by 336 marble columns with 9 meters high which arranged in 12 rows of 28 columns each, and the overall cistern could contain up to 80,000 cubic meters of water. When I was inside, it was hard not to feel the breeze and the eerie feeling from the surrounding. Good eerie though.
The attractive things inside the Basilica cistern were the lights emanating from each of the column that makes them look beautiful in the dark. Also, the upside-down medusa pillar. There were two columns inside the cistern that use the upside-down and tiled Medusa head as its base.
(towards) Galata Tower
From miniaturk, we departed to Galata Tower. We hopped on tram and arrived in Galatasaray. When we arrived, it was another kind of hyped we experienced. We walked along the Istiklal road and enjoy the frenetic of Saturday night life in Istanbul. On both side along Istiklal are store, restaurants, bar, and many others. People flooding the road and it such a crowd I wanted to be among.