The Exotic Istanbul

Istanbul is a magical city that will quickly cast its spell on you shortly after you arrive.

We started our day visiting the Dolmabache Palace  on the bank of the Bosphorous. While we certainly admired the things we saw in the palace; we were particularly impressed by the serenity of the gardens outside the palace. What a bliss it was, sitting on the benches in the garden, looking through the tall white ornamental fence by the Bosphorous strait; watching ships passing by under a blue sky.

The Blue Mosque acquired its name from the more than 21,000 distinctive blue tiles that decorate the interior. Gazing at the magnificent Blue Mosque , we couldn’t help admiring at marvels of architecture and the vastness of the column free space.. . . . . the Blue Mosque can accommodate 10,000 worshippers. No cathedrals in Europe are able to accommodate so many worshippers. The Blue Mosque seems to have made use of multiple domes and did not try to be tall giving a majestic notion. The cathedrals in Europe, on the other hand, adopt domes sparingly and try to be tall, thereby having to resort to flying buttresses and other features to provide the lateral stability.   In so doing, the amount of column free space inside the cathedrals are reduced.

Hagia Sophia is probably the most famous example of Byzantine architecture in the World. It was built as a cathedral, then it became a mosque and today it is now a museum. It is where you can see Christianity and Islam under one roof. It was amazing to see images of Christianity next to Arabic calligraphy or mosaic.  The spacious  nave of Hagia Sophia is covered by a lofty central dome carried on pendentives,  a device not previously employed in monumental construction. Pendentives make  possible support of the dome on a square framework of four huge equal arches  resting on huge piers. The arches at the east and west are extended and  buttressed by great half domes, while the half domes in turn are carried on  smaller semidomed exedrae.
We sat down on the steps of this beautiful mosque and observe the daily rhythms of life – in this predominantly Muslim yet secular country, the mosques are as much a focal point of social life as they are places of worship.

Wander and haggle through ancient grand bazaars and spice markets was a unique experience. It’s the most mind-blowing and totally new shopping experience you could ever imagine. The Grand bazaar was full of colors; from the lanterns to colored  rugs and scarfs.  It is where you can pretty much buy everything known to man (from jewellery, to figs, to coffee,  to bags, to belts, to furniture and furnishings). Tired, we sat down in a cafe within the bazaar and tried out a Turkish coffee. 

Night life of Istanbul is legendary. When the sun goes down and the lights come on, Istanbul becomes the big scene for nightlife with incredibly various options. The city switches into a vibrant mode of night life action. There was so much night life as we walked down the main street with many pedestrians and trams  running in the middle.

Approaching dinner time, we decided to go to a restaurant where there was belly dance performance. The dance was so lively and attractive that most diners just concentrated on the dance instead on the food. The dance was more of an art than a performance!

There is so much life and so much to see in Istanbul. What has been said for London also holds true for Istanbul; if you are tired of Istanbul, you are tired of life!

23 thoughts on “The Exotic Istanbul

    • It is a bliss to be retired. Think every working people should plan for their retirement as soon as practicable. I am also writing on Retirement in my blog based on my own experiene. While I have completely settled down, I did find the psychological journey from work into retirement not as easy as I would have thought. Best wishes,

    • Hi Michael,

      I think I can understand this. It is a big change, and as such the psychological adjustment is definitely expected. I think starting a blog is a good way to cope with that! 🙂

  1. Gorgeous photography, Michael! This post has made me even more excited (if that’s possible) about my upcoming trip to Turkey. Thank you! 🙂

  2. Michael, thanks for liking my Turkey travel post today. And I love your posts on your visit to Istanbul; it appears that we enjoyed many of the same sites in Istanbul, and for many of the same reasons, such as the architectural features of the Hagia Sophia. Seeing your photo of the Blue Mosque makes we wich we’d gone the extra mile to see it.

    I think you’re doing an exceptional job with both your writing and especially with your photography. Each and every photo is carefully framed and artistically captivating. I’m anxious to sit down and review ALL of your travel posts. Thanks for sharing them with us.

    • Hi Glen, Turkey is a fascinating place and I would love to take more photos and spend more time there. All photos in Turkey were taken by an inexpensive new camera which has a problem of not able to see any images in the screen under direct sunlight ( and there is no view finder). Good to know that we enjoyed the same sites and thank you for your kind comments! I am also catching up on reading your interesting posts. Regards, Michael

  3. I was delighted to read your posts on Turkey, as it is one of my favorite places. We also loved sitting in the peaceful gardens in Istanbul and visiting Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque and the Grand Bazaar. What wonderful colors and architecture for photography. If you go again, try to see the amazing underground Basilica Cistern (near Hagia Sophia) supported by hundreds of columns taken from earlier fallen cities. I have written several posts about Turkey for my blog, with many more to come. I hope you will get a chance to read them and see the photos, especially of the Basilica Cistern. It is quite amazing.

    • Hi, I like very much sitting in the peaceful palace garden and watching the Bosphorus. Thanks for your suggestion. We have visited Basilica Cistern in Istanbul and also other places in Turkey but short of writing the associated posts. Thanks for your comments! Regards, Michael

  4. Pingback: The Exotic Istanbul « retireediary | turkischland

  5. Exquisite post and pictures.l enjoyed my visit to Turkey because l speak Turkish l learned Turkish from my parents the were born in Northern Turkey then they immigrated to Iraq..Regards.jalal

  6. Reblogged this on closetoeighty and commented:
    Turkey is a neighbor of Ukraine and Russia, the two countries I lived in.
    I read about Turkey and Istanbul a lot, but I was not there.
    I am glad to share with you this wonderful post by Michael Lai.

  7. Well, Michael, I am heading toward the Mediterranean on a cruise in a few weeks, so I just had to check to see what you had posted about the places I will visit. I am most excited about Istanbul because I have never been there. My husband traveled there one time when I couldn’t go, and he told me of the beauty of the city. And now your photographs have enticed me more. I will post some of my own after the trip.

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