Posted by: Alex MacGregor | April 13, 2010

The Treasures of Istanbul

In addition to being an all-around awesome place, with tons of great food, colorful markets, and pleasant places to spend time, İstanbul’s long history provides a huge range of great historical places to see. We literally were only able to visit a small fraction of them.

One of the most famous places is the Topkapi Palace, where Ottoman Sultans lived for hundreds of years following the fall of Constantinople.

The Palace is set around a series of courtyards, each one for a more exclusive set of people than the last.

The family’s leisure areas, around the fourth and most private court.

Palace Gardens

We soon discovered that the place was so incredibly mobbed with tourists that it was nearly impossible to do anything. This is the line to see the Royal Treasures, which we stood no chance of making it through in the 45 degree wind. So I guess that technically the title of the post is a bit misleading…

Anyhow, we decided to just look around the less-mobbed parts of the Palace and soak up some of the stunning architecture and decorations.

There was apparently a ban on indoor photography in effect, but nobody seemed to pay much attention to it and camera flashes were going off left an right. What’s that? An unenforced prohibition? How very African of you, Istanbul! Anyways, I snapped away in the interior areas like everyone else.

Of course, the iconic Hagia Sophia could not be missed. This building was originally constructed in the sıxth century as a church, and was eventually converted into a mosque, and then finally made into a museum.

Hagia Sophia’s massive dome.

Mosaic of Jesus

Mosaic arches. The museum has an incredible amount of detail all over the place.

Hagia Sophia rival, the Blue Mosque, stands on the other side of a park. It was built during the height of the Ottoman Empire in an effort to outdo Hagia Sophia’s beauty.

Caroline in Mosque-mode.

Eventually, we developed a habit of just walking around and checking out every mosque we came across–they are all over the place. We were pleasantly rewarded!

Yeni Cami

A tomb near Yenı Camı.

Beyazit Cami, a mosque right near the University.

We also faught our way through the bazaar to get to Suleiman’s Mosque–supposedly one of the best–only to find it was under renovation! We still got to see a graveyard with beautiful Arabic stones and a smaller mosque with the emperor’s tomb.


  1. […] inside of the monastery features a beautiful church surrounded by living quarters. Unlike in the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, we decided to respect the no photography signs in the […]

  2. […] is Sveta Sofija, patterned after Aya Sofia in Istanbul. Unlike its model, it does not allow photographs inside (perhaps because of the disintegrating […]

  3. […] The patterned domes reminisce Istanbul. […]

  4. […] in a manner that reminiscences Topkapi Palace, a swarm of bodies floods each church entrance like it’s a Transnistrian […]

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