istanbul, not constantinople

after those fabulous days in cappadocia, we flew back across turkey to istanbul. our first morning there was was really rainy, but we walked through the wet from our hostel to topkapi palace, which was extremely crowded but immensely beautiful and interesting to visit. we learned about the ottoman empire and marveled at the gorgeous tilework, the ornate patterns and textures, and the overall opulence.

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^^ lines to get into each building! we think everyone hopped at the idea of visiting somewhere that is mostly indoors due to the rain! ^^
^^ stormy view down the bosporus from the palace ^^
^^ raindrops on tulips ^^
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^^ can you believe all these colors and patterns?! ^^
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^^ more rainy day views of the city ^^
^^ clearly i couldn’t get over all the tile and calligraphy! ^^

we had a super delicious traditional turkish lunch before we headed to see the hagia sophia and the blue mosque. we loved the the food and the little neighborhood we came across!

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the hagia sophia is so fascinating – a building that has endured so much evolution and served so many different purposes, always remaining special in some profound way to the people. there was a feeling inside of reverence for human history, which had come and gone in many forms through those walls.

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we also visited the tombs of hagia sophia, which were nearly as impressive as the hagia sophia itself, and much less crowded. the sultans and their families have been memorialized by these green-shrouded sarcophaguses under intricately painted arches and domes.

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one of my favourite things in the hagia sophia was the views of the blue mosque that could be seen through tiny windows on the upper floor.


we walked across the way to go inside the famous mosque…


…but not until after we’d been lured into a rug shop by some expert salesmen :) we appreciated the information they told us about how the rugs are made (amazing!) and seeing so many different, handmade designs, but we eventually convinced our new friends that we really only had backpacks, and no we didn’t want them to ship the rug home for us, and no we just really truly did not want to buy a turkish rug.


then, into the mosque! superbly beautiful and so heavy with peace despite the crowds.

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we went to the grand bazaar just as the stalls were closing up (more on that in the next post!) and then we had a donner kebab and freshly squeezed orange juice (it’s all over the streets of istanbul and it is really liquid gold!) picnic in between the hagia sophia and the blue mosque as the call to prayer rang out from the minarets and it started to get darker. after, we walked down the street to a hamam (turkish bath house). some typical storefront sights:


ian opted out of the turkish bath experience, but i really enjoyed it! i thought it was so so cool, and very relaxing and cleansing! here’s a photo from the cemberlitas hamami (from here) to help me remember what the beautiful bathing room looked like. i found the whole set up, from the pretty dressing rooms to the scrubbers and super foamy soap to the social aspect of the experience, intriguing and wonderful.


charian adventures in istanbul to be continued…


  1. Simply fabulous pics! Love these two grand places. There is nothing like it in the world. They fill you with such wonder!

  2. I commented here and then it seemed to disappear. Just want you to know that I love these places! And a couple of those turkish rug salesmen love us! We have some beautiful carpets from here including the one in the condo. Our favorite salesman from Istanbul found us in SLC! You're right, they are relentless!


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