Istanbul is one of the world’s truly great cities…and our favorite tourist destination. As it contains thousands of years of history–and 20 million people–it is impossible to capture in a few words.
Istanbul has Byzantine walls and churches, Ottoman mosques and palaces, and modern buildings. It sits where Europe meets Asia. It has been important long before 330 AD when Constantine the Great chose it as his capital of the Roman Empire.
We spent a day cruising on the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn with our traveling partners Keith and Shevaun in the new boat of our old Turkish friend, Ali Hashimi. Ali owns our favorite rug store in Turkey, “Noah’s Ark” and has just renovated an old mansion into a new boutique hotel in Stamboul, also called “Noah’s Ark”.
The shop and the hotel are in Sultanahmet,
all within walking distance of the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, the Grand Bazaar and (Fred’s favorite building in the world), The Aya Sofia.
In addition to the mosques, palaces and hamams (Turkish baths), we love the 19th century timber-built houses of Istanbul, some of which were built along the shores of the Bosphorus for the nobility and foreign ambassadors, and others in the
city. In those days, overhanging eaves and windows with grills let women look out on the street without being observed.
For a good book that captures the atmosphere of the old city, we recommend reading “The Janissary Tree” by Jason Goodwin, set in the Ottoman empire’s declining days in the 1830’s.
I love shopping in Istanbul, so we came back with a treasure trove of silver and precious stone necklaces, as well as bags of bargain finds from the flea markets. Fred went crazy buying hats of all kinds, and new rugs are being shipped to our store in Langley.