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Top Sites To See When In Istanbul

Top Sites To See When In Istanbul

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If you're going to be visiting Istanbul in the near future then you need to see the sites in the city that we've listed here!

Istanbul is a magical city. From the moment you land you’re whisked away in the hustle and bustle of the city. It is unlike any other. There is a strong sense of culture, pride and rich history lurking behind every brick wall. The locals are eager to welcome you and show you just how wonderful their home is. I was blessed to be able to spend a week in the city, learning about its history, living amongst the locals and exploring what it had to offer.

We stayed in an Air B’n’B at a point in Istanbul I like to call the bridge between two worlds. Looking out over the balcony to one side you could see the bright lights of the modern world. Tall industrial buildings, flats and offices lined up like soldiers along the shore. To the other side, over the bridge, you could see the domes of the Blue Mosque dominating the sky. The traditional half of the city. So over the week stay you could say I managed to get around and here are  the places you have to visit!

1. Taksim

Taksim lies in the European part of Istanbul. The heart being, Taksim Square. Here you can find streets filled with high end shops, high street shops, restaurants and cafes. You can pretty much get anything you need from here. However beware, it is like the streets of New York at all times of the day.

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You must walk at a swift pace so as not to get lost in the crowd. Visiting here I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it because large crowds usually make me anxious but it was honestly great to see such an energetic and happy community. The ice cream sellers did fancy tricks to keep kids entertained, the shopkeepers lined the streets urging you to ‘Come see our purses and handbags!’ It was oddly wonderful.

Top Sites To See When In Istanbul

2. The Galata Tower

We decided to go see what this famous tower was all about when we spotted it straight away from standing at our balcony. Not knowing any of its history or even where it was, we set off on foot and just walked in the direction we thought it was in. It’s height gave it away and we managed to spot it at the end of long windy streets.

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When arriving we noticed that the line to get to the top and witness stunning panoramic views of Istanbul was far to long for our liking. With the heat and the wait we decided to admire it from the outside. Learning that the tower was constructed in 1348 and was at the time the tallest structure in the city amazed me. Imagine what it has witnessed, the people who have visited before, how it has managed to stand the test of time as the rest of the city evolved around it.

Top Sites To See When In Istanbul

3. The Blue Mosque a.k.a. Sultan Ahmed Mosque

This mosque is without a doubt one of the most stunning pieces of architecture I have ever seen. It carries Istanbul’s magical essence and completely captivates you. At night this beautiful building is lit up with blue lights across five main domes, six minarets and eight secondary domes. Interestingly enough it was built by Sultan Ahmed the first to reassert Ottoman power after they lost 1603-18 war with Persia.

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Instead of paying for it with spoils of war, Sultan Ahmed used funds from the Treasury, because he hadn’t gained enough victories. I was blessed to visit this mosque on a Friday. This day, according to Muslims, is known as Jummah and is where we pray a special prayer after midday every week. I felt honoured to be able to pray there amongst people from all countries and the locals themselves. Settling myself amongst the women and praying as one unit was a completely surreal feeling. I would highly recommend visiting even to get a glimpse of the architecture on the outside and definitely on the inside.

Top Sites To See When In Istanbul

4. Hagia Sophia

Now this place fascinated me the most out of all the places I visited. Today it stands as a museum attracting hundreds of visitors a day, in the past it acted as a Church and was later a mosque before becoming a museum. What fascinated me about it was the fact that original architecture and elements of both the church and the mosque have been preserved giving you a sense of how this building acted as a church and a mosque.

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You can picture how it must have been used and designed as both places of worship. It has such rich history you feel almost insignificant as you explore. So much can be said yet nothing can do it justice. However what I will say is if there is only one place you decide to visit in Istanbul – make it this place.

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5. The Grand Bazaar

For true tradition and culture you must visit the Bazaar, arguably the best market in Istanbul. People cue up outside in the early hours of the morning waiting till the doors open and rush in ready to spend, spend and spend! Here you will find local shop owners ushering you to buy from them. The typical shops include fake bag shops, lantern shops, baklawa and Turkish delight shops and fake designer clothes shops.

However know that it isn’t all fake, you could pick up some good bargains! One tip I will give to anyone who goes here, haggle! Haggle like you life depends on it. Never take the initial price as the final price. Trust me be confident, be willing to walk away and watch the price dramatically decrease. It’s probably the best and most fun part! To feel like a true local, to understand the lifestyle in Istanbul a little more, markets like this are the best to go to!

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So there it is! The Top Sites To See In Istanbul! Honestly it is a place I never thought I needed to visit but I am beyond glad I did. For stunning architecture, beautiful culture, a rich history and shopping galore – this is definitely a place to put on your bucket list!
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