Sultan Ahmed Mosque Istanbul Turkey retouched.jpg

I am very grateful for this guest post from Alice Jerusha, who has taken me down Memory Lane with her piece on one of the world's most memorable and iconic cities.

Istanbul: A Different Kind of Experience in a Land where East Meets West

From a high vantage point in an elevated park area, you can see the azure waters of the Bosporus and the breath-taking beauty of Byzantine mosques, and you know there is no place like Istanbul. There is more than meets the eye when you are in a city that connects Asia and Europe. Asians will pay a great deal of money to visit Europe and Europeans will do the same to catch a glimpse of exotic Asia. But here in Istanbul, you can taste the best of both worlds. It is time for you to pack your bags and see for yourself the beauty and majesty of Istanbul. Do not forget your Turkey visa.

Hagia Sophia

Aya Sofya in the local dialect, it is the Church of Holy Wisdom. Aside from its stunning architecture, it is impossible to miss Aya Sofya when you are in Istanbul because it presides like a majestic ruler on top of a gorgeous plateau. When Emperor Justinian ordered its construction he had a clear vision in mind and that is to show the world that the church is for everyone. In 1935 the church was transformed into a museum. When restorers removed the carpets and the white plaster that covered the walls, they were surprised to find exquisite marble floor designs and beautiful mosaics.

Topkapi Palace

Istanbul was formerly known as Constantinople, built in honour of the Roman Emperor who established the Byzantine Empire during late antiquity. But in 1453, the seat of the Roman Empire in the East fell to the Ottoman Turks. Soon after Mehmed II ordered the construction of a palace fit for an Ottoman Sultan. The construction site was once a lovely olive grove that overlooked the picturesque Marmara region.

The Bosphorus Cruise

If you want a change of routine, take a boat trip from Eminonu to the fishing villages located in Anadolu Kavagi. It is the world-famous Bosphorus Cruise and one of the highlights of your trip to Istanbul. A company called Sehir Hatlari operates this cruise. After a leisurely breakfast in your hotel go to the Bogaz ferry terminal. The boat leaves at 10:30 every morning during the peak months of May to September. If you are visiting during the summer months do come early because of the long lines to the ticket booth.

Blue Mosque

Another major attraction is the Blue Mosque. From afar, the six minarets are like imposing figures as if standing on guard, protecting the mosque from intruders. When you go inside, more than twenty thousand blue ink tiles that decorate the interior walls will captivate you and leave you speechless. Although the Blue Mosque is a renowned tourist attraction, it is still considered a holy site. Therefore, you are not allowed to enter with your shoes on. You will be given a plastic bag to carry your shoes inside the mosque, and then, you are compelled to wear a head covering.

A trip to Istanbul will provoke different emotions, from excitement to a deep sense of awe. Truly, there is no experience that can be comparable to standing in a place where East meets west. If you are ready to go, visit the Turkish embassy in your country and secure a Turkey visa to enjoy your trip.

Alice Jerusha