Sights of Istanbul

Istanbul is no longer the capital of Turkey but it has a historic centre and is one of the worlds largest cities. Its half in Europe and half in Asia so there are plenty of different things to see.

Hagia Sophia

We did go to the Hagia Sophia, first a church then a mosque and now a museum. Right next door is the Sultan Ahmed or Blue Mosque. Inside are many blue tiles and at night it is illuminated by blue light.

These  are  kind of compulsory as is Topkapi .


Topkapi was interesting. There is too much to see in one visit. Once it was the home of the sultans but when Turkey became a republic it was turned into a museum.  There are different courtyards containing kiosks, the Turkish word for an open hexagonal pavilion. These were used by the upper classes to enjoy the open air in comfort and those in Topkapi all had different uses. One of the nicest is the Yeravan kiosk was used as a religious retreat where you stayed for forty days. We didn’t have time to see the harem which needs a separate ticket. But we did see the jewellery  and items belonging to the Sultans. It was very gloomy and crowded but the opulence was astonishing.

But the best parts of the city for us were the Bosporus, the bazaar and the cistern.

On The River

This is one of the best river trips you can do anywhere in the world. The river Bosporus, also known as the Strait of Istanbul, forms a boundary between Europe and Asia. The houses all along the journey are varied on both sides and there’s lots of life to see at the riverside.

The Basilica Cistern

The Basilica Cistern was built in the sixteenth century as a water filtration system. I think there are several others underneath the city but this is the only one open to the public. You used to tour by boat but 50,000 tons of mud was removed and platforms built so now you can walk round to admire the ionic columns and generally strangeness of it all.

The Grand  Bazaar

This is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world and with good reason. Its the worlds largest and oldest covered market. There are sixty one streets with forty thousand small shops selling everything you could think of (but no toilets!)