September 2, 2015

"Istanbul"...Melting Pot of Civilisations

There is something in History which keeps us spellbound and engaged. No matter how modern our new cities have become, the charm of the ancient places is still incomparable.

One of such Places in "Istanbul", "Constantinople" of in ancient times. Being one of the oldest cities on this earth, History is spread everywhere in Istanbul. Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey and had been the capital of Ottoman Empire from 1452 - 1923.

Most of the locales do not know English, mainly due to the fact that TURKEY never got colonized under British rule. Even without knowing English, locales are very helpful. So if you are struck somewhere, do not hesitate to take the help of locales. As I always say "Good Travelers do not think themselves to be Foreigners".

I was going to "Pierre Loti Hill" but lost the track somewhere, I am very thankful to the person who came with me all the way to Pierre Loti Hill, just to ensure that I should reach the right place. The hospitality here is amazing. This is one of the more traditional and conservative areas of the city. You have the option of taking a cable car to walk to the top of the hill. Walking will be a better option, as you will be able to explore more. You will be walking amidst the cemetry with graves on both sides. Graveyard holds the tombs of many famous Pashas, Sultans and authors. Check out the graves, while moving...




 


It has thus become a very spiritual and romantic place with magnificent view of the city. Check out...

Sultan Ahmet Mosque popularly known as the Blue Mosque was built around 1610 AD and is a historical mosque in Istanbul. Mosque with Six minarets, It has been also credited as "the most photogenic building in Istanbul".

With lots of gardens, the surrounding area is a happening place with lot of foreigners and local people assembling in the evenings and offering prayers too.

Blue Mosque is decorated with blue ceramic tiles, that's why the name "Blue Mosque".
Area adjoining Blue Mosque is full of eateries and restaurants.
Nearby to Blue Mosque is the heart of modern Istanbul, lanes to Taksim Square. It is a huge market with lot of shops, restaurants and is a popular spot for foreigners as well as locales in the evening. One can enjoy delicious yet reasonable food here.
The most outstanding here are the floating boat restaurants. Enjoy your evening snacks on the seas. 






Lanes of Istanbul and Taksim Square are perfect for hanging out for a cup of coffee and special Turkish tea with friends. Ambience here will be a great compliment for leisurely walk around this place.

Hagia Sophia was a Christian patriarchal basilica (537 - 1453 AD), later turned into an imperial mosque (1453 - 1931 AD), but now it serving as a museum showcasing the historical times, it has been a witness to. Pictures and relics of Lord Christ and mother Mary were removed or plastered when it was converted into a mosque.  Finally it was secularized and opened as a museum in 1935. This Mosiac reappeared when the plaster was removed while restoration.




Topkapi Palace: 
It is one a very large palace which served as residence of Ottoman rulers for almost 400 years. Now a museum too, which is open every day except Tuesdays. Topkapi Palace is also considered as one of the oldest and largest palace to survive till day.








Galata Tower:
One of the city's most striking landmarks, it is a high, cone-capped cylinder that dominates the skyline and offers a panoramic vista of Istanbul.
Its original conical roof got destroyed by a storm in 1875. The current conical roof was built during 1965 and 1967.
One can enjoy a magnificent view of Istanbul and Bosphorus from the restaurant and café on its upper floors. There is also a night club which hosts a Turkish show on the upper floors. To reach the upper floors, there are two operating elevators. 








Check out the uber beautiful Bosphorous bridge at night.
















Turkish people are also well admired for their food habits. Markets here are full of food shops/ restaurants. Try authentic Shawrama and Turkish Pizza. Turkish cuisine is very rich in deserts. Some of the desserts to cherish an take back home: Baklva, Lokum, Puddingly Pizza (Neither Pudding nor Pizza but a mix of bot, extremely smooth and melts in mouth), dried figs and whatever you wish for, there is no dearth of choices here in Istanbul.

Istanbul is the only city on this earth which is on 2 continents, Asia and Europe. Divided by seas, at this place we can witness "West" meeting "East". As we move from Asian side to European side we can easily visualize the changes in buildings and topography. One can enjoy the streets of New Delhi to roads of Germany, all in one city. One can correlate this with the changing landscapes too; Istanbul can be perfectly called as melting pot of civilizations.

Even the locales like to associate themselves as "from Asian side" and "European side". Very thin line separating inferiority/ superiority complex, tread with caution.
Nonetheless keep travelling Guys...

(This article also has inputs from Chirag Bhagat)





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