Are you preparing your next trip to Istanbul and need inspiration? Still not sure how to organize AV Discovery, so you don’t miss any of the essentials of the Turkish city? Don’t worry, this fascinating enclave located between East and West is so overwhelming that it is normal for you not to know where to begin to discover it. Because Istanbul is exotic, it is history and tradition: the one found in its bazaars, in its imposing mosques, and in its palaces. But, also, it is avant-garde and modernity: you only have to walk one afternoon along the lively Istiklal Avenue to be aware that Istanbul is constantly shouting.
That we started with one of the great tourist and heritage claims of Istanbul was clear: Hagia Sophia is an immense work of art that is a must for anyone who sets foot in the Turkish city. Destroyed and resurfaced on endless occasions, there is no one who is able to enter his heart without keeping his mouth open.
And it is that Santa Sofia has been rebuilt up to three times. The original structure was built in 360 by Constantine, and the last major reform was carried out by Justiniano in 537. The one that was the religious center of the Byzantine Empire changed its course when Constantinople was taken by the Ottomans: then it became a mosque, so little by little new architects were adding various elements, such as their minarets. It was then that the beautiful Byzantine mosaics that adorned the walls of the temple were covered with lime, something that, fortunately, was recovered in 1846. In 1935 Atatürk decided to transform the basilica into a museum, returning it to its original appearance.
The Blue Mosque
And we won’t have to go too far: in front of Hagia Sophia, looking at each other, there is another treasure to see in Istanbul: the Blue Mosque.
The waterfall of domes that make up its spectacular facade is one of the reasons why everyone who visits the city ends up in love with this temple. Built at the beginning of the seventeenth century by order of Sultan Ahmet I, it was once a matter of controversy because it was the only mosque in the world that dared to build six minarets: the same ones that Mecca had. The problem was quickly solved when Ahmet I financed the seventh minaret in Mecca: there is nothing that money does not solve!
Just two steps from the famous Galata Bridge is one of the oldest and most authentic markets to see in Istanbul: the Spice Bazaar. A universe of intense smells and colors in which to take the pulse of a city as chaotic as this. Shopkeepers shout prices loudly, locals buy and buy incessantly, and tourists simply move forward as they can between currents of people, trying to print in their minds every moment lived inside. The market is L-shaped and has six different doors to access. In it, you can try and buy all kinds of typical products: from spices to cheeses and traditional sweets. A place to see in Istanbul, without fail.
Another of those points to see in Istanbul and that should not be missing is the mythical Galata Bridge, a link between the modern and the traditional area.
It is a tilting bridge that reaches 490 meters long and is located in the estuary known as the Golden Horn. Very frequented by both locals and tourists, it has numerous businesses such as coffee shops and restaurants where you can enjoy a delicious Turkish tea or smoke hookah while enjoying the beautiful views. In the highest zone, however, fishermen are the protagonists: at all times, you can see how they calmly wait for their fishing rods to indicate that they have managed to capture something to take home.