25 Photos That will Inspire you to go to Istanbul

Istanbul, Turkey: Where East meets West

Formerly Constantinople, Istanbul was previously the capital of both the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. The city straddles both Europe and Asia, making it the only city in the world to sit across two continents.

With the start of its history dating back to around 660 BCE, "The Old City" is a hub of remarkable and ancient architecture, art, tradition, culture and legacy. Remnants of previous empires can be found throughout its streets, making it a fascinating and coveted city.

Jeff and I had the opportunity to spend four days in Istanbul last summer. Although we thought this would be plenty of time, we didn't even scratch the surface of the Asian side of the city, giving us all the more reason to hopefully one day return.

Below, I compiled a list of 25 pictures that I thought might inspire readers to add this historically spectacular city to their bucket list.

We took the above picture walking back to our hotel from the Grand Bazaar. With 99% of Turkey's population being Muslim, there are more than 3,000 mosques located in the city. Therefore, five times a day throughout the streets of Istanbul you can hear the "Ezan" or call to prayer (the first call beginning around 3 AM, and the last call held around 10 PM). During this time the voice of the muezzin, the man who calls the Muslim population to prayer from a minaret, can be heard over the loudspeakers at different mosques in the city.

Without a doubt, one of my favorite places in Istanbul that we visited was the Spice Market. Filled with decadent and colorful spices, teas, silk goods, dried fruits, candy, drapery and jewelry, it is an Istanbul staple for any visitor. Jeff and I stocked up on hibiscus and jasmine teas, saffron and cinnamon soaps, and both curries and spices to cook with once we got home.

This was the main hall in the market

Carpet weaving is one of the most ancient art forms in Turkey. Jeff and I had taken a walking tour on our stay, and our guide actually took us through a traditional Turkish rug shop. Here, we were shown how a Turkish rug is woven with only the highest quality ingredients and natural dyes. These carpets were gorgeous, and although we were unable to take one home with us, it was fascinating getting to see the different styles and varieties crafted.

The below picture was taken at the famous Blue Mosque-constructed between 1609 and 1616 by the Ottoman Sultan Ahmed. Its actual name is the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, however, it is known as The Blue Mosque by tourists because of its bluish interior decor. This mosque is often deemed as the most important mosque in Istanbul.

The Dolmabahçe Palace (pictured below) served as the main administrative center of the Ottoman Empire from 1856 to 1887 and from 1909 to 1922. It is the largest palace in Turkey consisting of 285 rooms, 46 halls, 6 baths (hamams) and 68 toilets.

A Turkish Hamam is a "bath" or wellness treatment for both locals and visitors alike looking to decompress. Essentially, the service includes scrubbing your body and receiving a bubble wash inside a luxurious marble room (with gold sinks and other lavish decorative materials). Many Hamams also have the option of adding an oil massage for added relaxation. Honestly, Jeff and I got one in Istanbul on the recommendation of our hotel and it was a highlight of our trip! We felt so rejuvenated after the experience. Hamams may differ in price and luxury, but you can easily find an exceptionally economic option (no need to pay more than necessary).

Jeff and I standing in front of the Hagia Sofia

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