Monday, 2 December 2013


It's been almost three months since I visited and Istanbul continues to frequent my daydreams.

Istanbul feels like the capital city of the world. Which isn't entirely surprising given it's history. First, it was the centre of the world according to the Greeks. Byzantium was renamed Constantinopolis when it became part of the Roman empire. Later, the Ottoman's recognised her as Kostantiniyye.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I arrived and I've honestly never experienced anything like it.

Firstly, it's huge. The commanding Bosphorus strait separates the European and Asian continents, and the city of Istanbul unites the two.

It is a city that is both incredibly ancient and modern all at once. Her unique pulse and identity is the sum of her cultural influences and history. You'll find a Catholic church and a Mosque on the same block. They stand together, above an underground city of archaic tunnels, cisterns, viaducts built by empires past. I stood in a tower of an ottoman castle on the banks of the Bosphorus (photo #15 above) . The stones beneath my feet placed there by hand in 1452. Nearby, the massive Fatih Sultan Mehmet suspension bridge, a trans-continental highway spans the Bosphorus.

Seeing the city from a sunset cruise on the Bosphorus allows you get a sense of the scale of Istanbul, and the diversity in her landscape. Hundreds of minarets shape the skyline. The shoreline plays host to castles, palaces, universities, museums and mansions.

Each day, the Ezan can be heard from tens of thousands of mosques throughout the city. No matter where you are, the call can be heard, often from multiple directions. One day I found myself atop a lookout on the Asian side, high above the city during a call to prayer. The sound of the Ezan was everywhere. Near and far. It was floating up from the city below and across the water from the European side. It was incredibly beautiful.

Another memorable highlight for me was going to a traditional Turkish bath house. We went to Çemberlitas which was built in 1584 (photos 13, 14 above). I've been known to frequent a day spa or two in my time, but think the Turks have mastered this down to an art form. It was the ultimate experience in pampering and relaxation. An hour or so of steaming, scrubbing and soaking followed by THE most sublime massage. The attendants were kind and nurturing and I felt calm and uplifted walking out of there. It was a reminder too, that balance can be found in ritual and tradition. If we had Turkish baths here in Sydney, I would go every other week!

Istanbul is well known for shopping. Unfortunately I didn't have alot of time so I skipped all the modern attractions to experience the Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar. They are vast rabbit warrens, you could easily and literally lose yourself here. I bought some lovely homemade Turkish Delight for Richard, some souvenirs for the Little One but mainly wandered around taking it all in. I had been forewarned about the 'hard sell' in these markets and we did find ourselves sat on the floor of a carpet store at one point. The captive audience of a charming man who called himself the Turkish George Clooney. He laid out beautiful kilim rugs and hand embroidered textiles talking us through their history and traditional techniques. We didn't buy anything, though I was tempted! He was gracious and grateful and sent us on our way with a smile.

I was utterly taken with Istanbul. I look forward to the day I return. 

Belinda x


  1. What amazingly beautiful pictures! My husband would love those market places with stacks of fish and spices - overwhelming the senses. The architecture is amazing. Those archways and tile work are so lovely!

  2. Great pictures, Belinda. I especially like the closeups of the spices at the Spice Market. I dream of going back one day too. It is an amazing city with some great people!


Thanks for your comment, so nice to hear from you. Belinda x

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