In the year 2013 I was searching for a place to spend my birthday abroad. Istanbul, Turkey came into my mind because I’ve never been there, it was easy and cheap to reach, full of history and also the only city on two continents (Europe and Asia). On the other hand – after booking – there were protests in the city center that were violently struck down by state authorities.
Surrounding Istanbul, Turkey there is a lot of water: not only the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn – but also the sea of Marmara (Marmara Denizi) in the south and the Black Sea (Karadeniz) in the north. While being so close I could not omit having a guided tour to the shore – visiting the lighthouse in Şile and having a bath at the rocky shore of this sea connecting Eastern Europe and Western Asia.
The Kariye Camii in Istanbul, Turkey; also known as the Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora is the most remote sight I visited in the city. It was a recommendation of my hosts and it really was worth the detour to the northwest end of Fatih. It was once a Byzantine Christian church that was converted into a mosque and is now serving as a museum.
The Dolmabahçe Sarayı in Istanbul, Turkey – translated as the palace of the filled garden – is to me the most beautiful palace of the city. It is located on the European side in Beşiktaş, directly at the Bosphorus. It has been built from 1843 on and is one of the younger palaces, created because Topkapı Sarayı couldn’t adhere to European standards requested by the Sultan.
What to do on your birthday when you’re in Istanbul? I decided to spend a relaxing day at Adalar, or better said the Prens Adaları (Princes Islands) – a group of islands located 10 kilometers away from the city at the sea of Marmara (coming from the word marble). It is a place to which the inhabitants of Istanbul go if they want to flee from the city to find some relaxation.
Looking for some modern art in Istanbul, Turkey? There is one location you cannot ommit – in Beyoğlu, one of the city parts on the European side, you’ll find the İstanbul Modern. Close to the place where cruise ships are anchoring in Istanbul a new museum has opened in 2004. In a building looking like a warehouse modern art is presented on 8.000 square meters.
The Bosporus bridge in Istanbul, Turkey must be a very beautiful view point. It is located high above the Bosporus and connecting the European with the Asian part of the city. From there you’re having a fantastic look on the Golden Horn, Galata and Sultanahmet. Within the pillars of the bridge there are elevators to get to the top, especially from Ortaköy this would be a good visit.
The Maiden’s tower (Kız Kulesi) is a lighthouse at the Bosporus in Istanbul, Turkey. It is located on a very small island 180 meters away from the Asian side, close to Üsküdar. It dates back to the 18th century and has served for different purposes over time. Today you can go by boat to the tower and within it there is also a restaurant and a coffee bar.
The Ayasofya Camii (also: Hagia Sophia, meaning “Holy Wisdom”) is a very well known mosque and former Christian church in Istanbul, Turkey. Today it is serving as a museum. It is still in restauration phase but the vast domes are impressive and it is very interesting to see the differences between the religions in this building: the images of Christianity removed and replaced against words.
When it’s hot in Istanbul, Turkey there aren’t too many places to go to. The Yerebatan Sarnıcı or Basilica Cistern is one of those. Located close to the Ayasofya and the Blue Mosque the sunken palace offers a good refreshment. It dates back to the year 532 and the pillars of the cistern are today illuminated in different colours reflecting on the water.