I arrived in this metropolis with excitement to see the remnants of Ottoman Empire along with Turkish-style pattern painted on the walls and tiles of its Mosques, houses, restaurants, and other places around the city. This city is rich with culture, mostly due to the fact that it was the capital of two big empires in history. I saw the richness of the mixture of two different beliefs in one historical site which was Haggia Sophia. The building was first built to be used as a Cathedral, and later when the city was captured by the Ottomans, it was converted to a Mosque. After Turkey became an independent republic, it was finally decided to open the building as a museum, a witness of the great history of two large civilizations (Eastern Roman Empire and Ottoman Empire). The painting of Jesus on the wall of its dome and the Arabic calligraphy of Allah and Muhammad somehow amazed me when I was standing inside the massive museum, it could have been used as a symbol of multi-faith tolerance that we desperately need in the world. Aside from history lesson, what I really wanted to see next was the Grand Bazaar.

Hagia Sophia
Opening days: Everyday
Opening hour: 9 AM - 7 PM
Entrance Fee: 30 TL

Grand bazaar is well known as one of the oldest covered markets in the world. As I entered through the front gate, one thing that crossed my mind was how big it's gonna be. Just as i stepped inside, i saw numerous stores with various gems placed on rings, bracelets, and necklaces as their main commodities. In Turkey, one famous type of gem is called the zultanite. It's not so well known in other parts of the world, but the reason for its fame in Turkey is the fact that it can change color depending on how intense the light that penetrates through. I did not know for sure the scientific explanation for its unique ability to change color depending on how dark or bright the surrounding area was, I was left in awe when i saw that piece of gem. I walked further in the grand bazaar and found myself surrounded by tireless merchants who were trying so hard to sell goods to passersby. Some of them were successful with their effort to earn money for the day, some of them had to wait for a better day.

On a side note, can I just say how in LOVE I am with the colorful lanterns in Grand Bazaar? Every time I pass a stall that sells the lanterns, I feel like I'm in another world. They're so shiny, colorful and pretty. I didn't buy a lantern in the Grand Bazaar, but I'm glad I finally did buy one before I went home!

Grand Bazaar
Opening days: Monday - Saturday
Opening hours: 9 AM - 7 PM
To get there: Take a tram or walk, it's only about 15 minutes walk from the Hagia Sophia/Blue Mosque area. 

Another must visit historical site is the Sultan's Palace. Its official name is Topkapi Palace. Built in the 15th century, the palace is now open for visitors curious about how Sultans used to live. As I walked the front yard, the numerous flowers growing enticed my eyes... As a fan of flowers, I am delighted to be served with garden and flowers along the pathways. Once I entered, then I walked through the chamber where they used to welcome and entertain foreign emissaries. Then I walked further in towards the museum of Ottoman army artifacts, not a fan of war and army but as someone who has interest in fashion... They're battle outfit was far from the outfit soldiers these days. They were full of adornments, jewels, the threads were colorful, the details of the patterns... I find it very amusing. It was as if back then, for those soldiers their battle field was not merely for battle, but also their runway?

Topkapi served my eyes with beautiful scenery of Istanbul city. If you walk towards the back area, you'll find yourself on a balcony area looking out to the ocean and the bridge. Vast sky above and buildings in the city can be seen. It was really beautiful. How I'd give my all to have a home with that billion dollar view!!

The most visited site within Topkapi Palace might be The Harem. The sultan built more than 400 rooms inside. Decorated with Turkish style pattern painted on each wall, I found myself staring up and down, left and right at those pattern for quite a while. They were mostly the shades of blue, turqouise and gold and they were also mixed with Islamic calligraphy. I spent time walking around the palace and wondered how much time and effort did they use to build this massive complex? I'm sure it was a thought that crossed every visitor's mind.

Topkapi Palace is an evidence of how rich Turkish art is. The whole place is decorated with different patterned tiles and rich in color. I'm so mesmerized by it, I might do one post especially dedicated to the various patterns I found while I was in Turkey.

Topkapi Palace
Opening days: It is open except on Tuesdays
Opening hours: 9 AM - 4.45 (Winter) / 9 AM - 6.45 (Summer)
Entrance fee: 30 TL (Excluding Harem) + 15 TL (Including Harem)

The next historical place I visited in Istanbul was the Sultanahmet Mosque. The mosque which is built with massive domes on top and a total of six tall minarets on its side, is normally referred to as the Blue Mosque. Its opening times is controlled in adjustment to the Islamic prayer times (5 times a day, which mean in between those times, people can visit and enter the mosque). I actually went to the mosque twice, but didn't have luck entering on the first visit. So I visited again on Friday, and actually waited during the Friday prayer and got in line very early. I managed to get in right at the very front of the queue. This might be a useful trick for those of you who would like to visit the mosque; be a little patient and wait during the prayer. Be respectful while you wait though, because people are trying to pray.

Moving on... The inside walls of the mosque's domes are again painted with authentic Turkish patterns. Those who wanted to get inside the Mosque also had to take their shoes off and put them in plastic bags that they could carry inside, in respect to Islamic routines of not wearing shoes inside religious centers. So I would suggest to everyone planning on visiting the mosque to wear something easy to take off and wear again. A slip on shoe or a sandal would be ideal, boots and heels with lots of straps is not so ideal. And for the ladies, a head covering is a must when you enter the area of the mosque. It doesn't have to be a hijab; I simply wore a scarf and put it on top of my head.

To be honest there isn't much you can do inside other than seeing and admiring the architecture. But if you're muslim, you are more than welcome to pray inside the mosque. Because during prayer times the mosque could get really crowded and you'll end up praying on the outside area of the mosque, so this could be a chance to pray inside one of the famous mosque.

Sultanahmet / Blue Mosque
Opening hours: Anytime except during prayer times
Opening days: Everyday
Entrance Fee: None. But you may donate to help them preserve the mosque

So... the three sites (Sultan Ahmet Mosque, Topkapi Palace, and Hagia Sophia) I've written about are located in Sultanahmet square which was not too far as well from where I wanted to go next. The the last but definitely not the least destination: Basilica Cistern. 

Unlike the three sites I´ve mentioned previously (except Hagia Sophia), the Basilica Cistern is one of the remnants of Byzantine Empire which used to rule Constantinople before the Ottomans came and later changed the name of the city to Istanbul. It was built in the 6th century with large pillars supporting the structure. I walked into the Cistern and felt the temperature inside was much cooler than outside, due to the fact that it was located underground. Inside, there were lots of pillars with two pillars that attracted most visitors. Those two had the face of Medusa supporting underneath it. At the entrance, there was a written explanation on a board of why the Cistern was built and the love triangle story of Medusa. (The story is ACTUALLY sad and tragic!) There is also the Crying column, where the pillar appears to be crying because it is wet. According to reports, the column was erected in memorial of the slaves who died during the construction of the Great Basilica.

Basilica Cistern
Opening days: 
Opening hours: 9 AM - 5.30 PM (Winter) 9 AM - 6.30 PM (Summer)
Entrance Fee: 10 TL

Istanbul was overall an amazing city! I didn't expect much when I flew there, but if I did had expectation, it would still went over my expectation. The food was great, the people were nice and the weather was super nice while I was there. It all adds up and gave a memorable adventure. And yes... Istanbul is a HUGE area. (Well Turkey itself is a large country really) I have to go back there again and visit more places, there were so many places I wasn't able to tick off my list. Excuses, excuses... there's always excuses to travel right?

Will post on Goreme and Pamukkale experience also!


July 28, 2015

Turkey Photo Diary

June 8, 2015

Daily Makeup

June 1, 2015

The Fight for Clear Skin

May 9, 2015


March 25, 2015

View from the top of Naked For Satan bar

Roaming around Fitzroy

March 24, 2015

175 Blyth Street

March 23, 2015

"A cake for all is not a celebration of one. Cupcakes are the ultimate birthday cake." (J. Kintz)

Twenty four

February 10, 2015

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