Istanbul – Mosques & Magic Carpets

254722_10100339287392721_1200545_nWaking up in Istanbul made for such an exciting morning! I anxiously awaited the ship to dock so I could begin my cultural journey in Turkey. By spending a few days here, there was plenty of time to get a real feel for this cultural melting pot. I could definitely see how it’s such a combination of Europe and Asia through the architecture and food. I began the day with a local guide showing off the city’s core sites to get an insider’s angle on the city. We crossed the Galata Bridge for stunning views and walked along a pier where I was able to stand in two continents at once: Europe and Asia!

We checked out Hagia Sophia, a former mosque now turned museum, and it was unexpectedly beautiful. I had no idea what to expect, but I certainly didn’t anticipate what I encountered. The lights inside are beautiful. Some of the lights hang pretty low and I could feel warmth from the bulbs. It was radiant!

We had lunch at the magnificent Topkapi Palace, former home of the sultans. It was a very hot day and because we had walked around so much, we were feeling pretty tired. We found a clear grass patch and stretched out to relax and regenerate. A few others ended up full out napping.

After lunch and the much needed rest stop, we saw the city’s major attraction: the stunning Blue Mosque. It’s an amazing building with a series of domes and minarets dominating the skyline, complete with a breathtaking interior of tens of thousands of blue tiles. The upper levels of the interior are dominated by blue paint. More than 200 stained glass windows with intricate designs admit natural light, today assisted by chandeliers. On the chandeliers, ostrich eggs are found that are meant to prevent cobwebs inside the mosque by repelling spiders.

I had to cover my knees and shoulders to go in. Upon entering, I tilted my head all the way back to take in all the tiles. The sight was incredibly pretty. I wish I was able to go up the steps and view the tiles from a higher level, but unfortunately tourists in the past chipped off some blue tiles, and now access up there is blocked.

After the Blue Mosque, we went to see some Turkish rugs authentically handmade. While watching the extremely intricate weaving, I sampled some Turkish apple tea. After the demonstration was over, there was time for us to shop. A salesman revealed some “magic carpets” to us. He picked up what looked like an ordinary Turkish rug and whipped it across the room. It completely hovered over the floor until it gently fell back to the ground. As cool as that would’ve been to take home with me, space in my luggage and spending money wouldn’t allow it!

5 thoughts on “Istanbul – Mosques & Magic Carpets

  1. I think the Hagia Sophia is actually not a working mosque anymore – it’s now a museum! That’s probably the reason you didn’t need to cover up there. I’m planning 4 nights in Istanbul in January, planning to experience all these places you covered in your great blog post (and more), and I must say I love the title (Mosques & Magic Carpets)! Wish I would have thought of that! ;)

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