Editor’s Note: This guest post was written by Justin Carmack, a Colorado kid who has a serious addiction to travel. Once he got started, there was no stopping him. 3 years, 6 continents and 52 countries later, and he’s still on the road. You can check out his adventures on his blog called True Nomads, and also on Twitter and Facebook! He is always keen to hear from new people!
Istanbul Turkey is a wonderful contrast between ancient and modern ages. From its rich history of being the capital of the Ottoman and Byzantine empires comes many mosques and other religious buildings with such beautiful architecture that you will be enchanted for days. Next to one of these may stand a very modern skyscraper. The atmosphere runs from very conservative, religious people to bustling, chaotic bazaars, to a nightlife like none other. Being next to the sea also brings all of the fun any water-loving person could want. It is definitely a city you will want to spend a little extra time in and is of course featured as one of the entries in one of my post titled 100 Places To See Before You Die:
1. The Hagia Sophia is definitely at the top of the list of things to do. Its stunning architecture is symbolic of the Byzantine empire during which it was constructed. The historical significance of what was once a church adds to the mystique and charm. Its mosaic walls, vaulted chambers and interior views help make this one of the most visited sites.
2. The Blue Mosque is an active religious site that was built to rival the Hagia Sophia. Its myriad of domes, semi-domes and minarets make this a magnificent place to see.
3. The Grand Bazaar, with its thousands of shops, is one of the biggest and oldest indoor markets in the world. The noisy, chaotic atmosphere with vendors and customers haggling over the price of everything will mesmerize you into spending hours there.
4. The Istanbul Archeology Museum is another fascinating place you must see. It has more than one million antique objects in the three buildings. You will not want to miss the Alexander Sarcophagus or the Sarcophagus of the Crying Women while there.
5. The Topkapi Palace is next to the Archeology Museum. Built for the Ottoman empire Sultans, it too has amazing architecture. The courtyards are simply amazing, and all of the exhibits in it are a thrill to see. It does cost a pretty high admission fee, but if you spend half a day seeing it, it is worth the price.
6. Church of St Saviour in Chora is one more historical place you need to visit. Its famous mosaics, frescoes and Christian art from the Byzantine empire make this second only to Hagia Sophia.
7. After so much culture, it is time to relax and enjoy! The Ortakoy neighborhood is just the place to do that in. During the day it has many market stalls along the street. At night the restaurants and bars get hopping. It can get a little pricey, but it is a perfect place to see how the “real people” live and party.
8. Rooftop bars and restaurants are everywhere in Istanbul, and are the best way to see the city. These have been becoming more popular over the last few years and the competition is high, so they each have their “gimmick”, which makes them all fun to explore and find the one that suits your taste.
9. Hamams are Turkish massages meant to purify body and soul. Given while lying on a steamy slab, they are a perfect way to relax – or recover from trying out the last two suggestions!
10. Narghile, or hookah smoking is another Turkish cultural thing to try. It is flavored tobaccos, even fruity ones like cherry, which are smoked through the hookah, or water pipe. Also known as “hubbly-bubbly” it is one of those fun things that even non-smokers should try.
Editor’s Note: This guest post was written by Justin Carmack.
Photo Credits (Flickr CC): Hagia Sophia by Paul Keller/ Blue Mosque by Sev!/ Grand Bazaar by Alaskan Dude/ Istanbul Archeology Museum by azken_tximinoa/ Topkapi Palace by y entonces/ Church of St Saviour by Anosmia/ Ortakoy by amitd/ Rooftop Bar by Dave Proffer/ Hamam by Alazaat/ Hookah by dyakov peter/