We had planned a 2-week long holiday which included a pre-wedding shoot in Cappadocia. Naturally, we would want to take the chance to explore Istanbul, though we wished we had allocated more time to it. Overall, we only had 2 full days and a 10-hour stopover to visit and discover this beautiful place.
Our happy faces as we look forward to this year end trip for our major milestone.
We took Turkish Airline and which included the multi-city options:
Singapore > Istanbul
Istanbul > Rome
Milan > Istanbul
Istanbul > Singapore
Our air tickets cost SGD2650 for 2 pax (economy class). Upon check-in there’s actually an option to top-up SGD850/pax to upgrade to business class on the spot at the counter. But economy class is good enough for us.
We stayed at Arcadia Blue (SGD145/night) and Burckin Hotel (SGD100/night), in which both hotels are near the sultanahmet area. It’s just 5-min walking distance away from the main attractions, eating places, basically the main touristy places.
I would highly recommend Arcadia Blue as it offers the best view of both worlds, literally. The hotel was kind enough to give us complimentary breakfast as we reached there early, and the breakfast view at the rooftop was awesome. It offers unparalleled view of Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia and sea view. I can only say you have to see it for yourself.
As for Burckin Hotel, it’s more of a no-frills hotel which is cheaper and offers a good location. As such, there’s more younger crowd and it was rowdy at night; though it didn’t bother me as I was concussed due to sore throat! I slept the minute I lie on the bed. Haha
Personally we prefer Arcadia Blue as it’s more spacious and quieter.
World Heritage Sites
For those who are not aware, there’s 17 UNESCO Heritage Sites in Turkey. The historical sites in Istanbul is listed as one of them, which includes Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Topkapı Palace and Süleymaniye Mosque.
I’ll be sharing some pictures with brief write ups on the places of interest. I’m no historian but if you are interested, I’d recommend you to Google or just visit Istanbul. 🙂
Sultan Ahmed (Blue Mosque)
No trip is complete without a visit to Sultan Ahmed (Blue Mosque) and Hagia Sophia – a beautiful juxtaposition of the both structures of blue and red. They are separated by Sultanahmet Archaeological Park, each facing one another.
The Blue Mosque (Named Sultanahmet Camii in Turkish) is one of the historical mosques in Istanbul. It’s situated in Sultanahmet area, located just opposite Hagia Sophia. You would need to take off your shoes if you want to visit. For ladies, head coverings are provided if you don’t have it. There’s a short queue before entry so we didn’t wait long at all. It’s magnificent and you will find it hard to take photo of the entire structure; unless you have a dslr. The tiles and design are really exquisite but I didn’t take a lot of photos. Mainly because it was very cold so we wouldn’t want to remove the gloves and take out our hp and it’s crowded. (Touch-screen gloves don’t work well actually)
Hagia Sophia used to be a Christian church which then became a mosque. You may read up the history of it online if you are interested.
Fiance was taking photos and then I thought I saw a fur towel on the floor in one of my photos. See the above photo with a lump of fur which looks like towel on bottom right pic.
And it turned out to be a cat! The Hagia Sophia resident cat. What’s more, it’s an insta-famous cat named Gli, with more than 8000 followers. @hagiasophiacat
It is now a museum, which I initially thought was a mosque, and we were blown away by its beauty and exquisite dome.
Another main attractions you shouldn’t miss is Topkapi Palace. This is a massive place and the palace is part of Istanbul’s UNESCO World Heritage site. I would recommend to put aside at least 2 hours as you would need to queue to enter and explore it. The rgand, fortified residence of the Ottoman Sultan will wow you with their mosaic tiles.
We queued for half an hour to enter the sacred relics. In addition, you get to see how the sultan led lavish life in the palace, Harem, and an insight on the ottoman Empire inner circle.
This Mosque is further away and we took a cab there. From afar, we can see it’s beauty.
It is one of the largest mosque in Istanbul, with a huge garden and offers a spectacular view of Bosphorus and Golden Horn. There’s actually a cafe nearby which offers awesome view overlooking the mosque and Bosphorus but we did not go due to limited time. We will be back. 🙂
Basilica Cistern (Another Historical Site)
You may find this place familiar or have seen in somewhere. Yes in the movie, Inferno. This place (aka Sunken Palace) used to be an underground water storage during the Ottoman Empire for Topkapı Palace.
It’s located less than 200 metres away from Hagia Sophia and there was a short queue for ticket purchase and entry. Our eyes took some time to adjust before and after entry.
There’s approximately 335 pillars and one of the highlights would be the 2 pillars with medusa head at the base. One of them are turned upside down, which was originally meant to remove her power.
During our visit, the water was drained out and there were some renovation going on. But that didn’t reduce the mystery and bewitching vibe of the place.
So here’s some of the historic places in Istanbul. I’d love to spend more time to fully explore and enjoy the places.
Till the next time!