Istanbul in Photos

Istanbul, Turkey

One morning outside Sultanahmet I saw what I believe to be a suffi. He looked somewhat like a Turkish version of Santa Claus (which was odd because it was late December), but I don’t really know what else he would be with that beard.

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One morning outside Sultanahmet I saw what I believe to be a suffi. He looked somewhat like a Turkish version of Santa Claus (which was odd because it was late December), but I don’t really know what else he would be with that beard.

Cat Napping on Carpets

My eyes were first drawn to the colorful carpets, bags, and pillow covers of this outdoor shop near the Aya Sofya in Istanbul. The vibrant reds, the pale pinks, the earthy browns. Some rough, some soft. Then, I noticed the cat sleeping on a stack of small carpets. I got closer. Her eyes opened just enough to check me out and to say “leave me alone, cant you see I’m napping?” I took this one image. I think it is probably my favorite image from Istanbul. And it’s a reminder to stop and look at the small things while you are traveling. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the big sites. But, often it is the everyday moments that we remember the most.

Making bread.

There is a section behind the Blue Mosque of restored old wooden houses and some very traditional, excellent restaurants, making bread the old fashioned way.

Ramadan Karim

Sultanahmet looked magical at night after iftar during Ramadan. The hanging lights across the camii made the air filled with Ramadan spirit.

Iftar Outside Sultanahmet

Turkey has a special spirit that only comes alive during Ramadan. After sunrise Istanbul comes alive. The fountain park between Ayasofia (haga Sophia) and Sultanahmet (the blue mosque) comes alive after sunset, countless families sitting down picnic style to enjoy their iftars. The environment is warm and friendly. And the fresh watermelon sold illegally by street vendors is fresh and juicy.

Silhouette of Blue Mosque

It was getting dark and cloudy when i arrived at Sultanamet and it was difficult to get a good shot of the blue mosque. Just when the sun set behind the mosque, i captured the beautiful silhouette.

Istanbul's Must-See Mosques

Suleymaniye and the Hagia Sophia are among the most specatcular of Istanbul‘s greater than 3,000 mosques. They are within walking distance of one another in Sultanahmet. Turkey Trip Report:

Turkish Space Invader

A fun game to play when traveling is Find the Space Invader.

Experience the Bosphorus by Boat

Part 1 of 3: It was my birthday and I got my wish! I was about to embark on a sunset cruise of the Bosphorus. Just being in Istanbul was one dream realized. It was my next-to-last day in Turkey after a 2-week tour and I’d wanted to be on the Bosphorus at dusk. My friends and I found our way to the ferry docks at Eminönü just in time to board. As the boat pulled away from the dock, I looked back and saw the domes and minarets of the New Mosque (Yeni Cami) behind us. I was so overwhelmed by the sights and sounds that I could barely think, yet I managed to take a photo. So many thoughts... The Golden Horn! The divide between Europe and Asia... My friends had found seats on the top deck but it wasn’t long before I’d moved to the edge of the boat where I could have an unobstructed view. I was a little calmer now, and my camera was ready!

See the Heart of Istanbul on the Bosphorus

Part 2 of 3: An hour into my sunset cruise of the Bosphorus, the sky had transformed to a golden yellow. On this November Sunday (my birthday!), the strait was alive with activity. We passed ships and boats of all sizes. Birds filled the sky. Traffic crossed on the bridge between Europe and Asia. And so many people were gathered at the waterfront, eating in cafes, fishing from piers, or just watching the world go by. I saw the heart of Istanbul. And my heart was still racing, as I was never more excited to be anywhere in my life.

Istanbul: Take in the Colors of the Bosphorus

Part 3 of 3: The sky was glowing orange and the vibrant colors of the Istanbul waterfront reflected below in the water. Just 90 minutes earlier, my friends and I had embarked on a sunset cruise of the Bosphorus. Now we were cold, and reality had set in. We were returning to the ferry docks; the cruise was over. And sadly, our trip was ending as well. The next day, we would be saying goodbye to each other and leaving Istanbul for our home cities. But -- we still had one more night to explore, and we walked back to our hotel with one more amazing experience to treasure. And I had 200 more pictures on my camera to remember it by!

It's a souvenir, AND protection from evil!

As I mentioned in another recent post, my favorite souvenirs are items that carry significance in the local culture. In Turkey, that could only mean the ubiquitous nazar or evil eye bead (Turkish: nazar boncuğu). It’s meant to protect against the evil eye, and is often wrongly translated as the evil eye itself, when it’s actually a benevolent eye. The best explanation I’ve received is this: It’s a form of fighting fire with fire (an eye for an evil eye). It is usually seen in the form of a hanging ornament or flattened glass bead or amulet, made by hand and used as part of a necklace, bracelet or pin. While it can be worn by people, including babies, it is also seen on cars, trucks, doors, horses, and even cell phones. Now that’s protection!

A Simple Donation to Help Those in Need in Turkey

When you visit Turkey, you will see collection points for plastic bottle tops like this photo above. Contribute your plastic bottle tops to the collection and you are contributing to allowing someone to have a wheelchair in a unique recycling program. Start collecting: 60,000 blue bottle tops will provide one wheelchair for someone with a disability. For more information visit

Yeni Cami

Yeni Cami, Yeni Valide Camii (New Mosque) - 1597-1663 (Eminönü district). In the exterior, we can count 66 domes and semi domes, as well as 2 minarets. It is situated on the Golden Horn

Yeni Cami (Interior)

Interior of Yeni Cami, Yeni Valide Camii (New Mosque) - 1597-1663 (Eminönü district). It’s decorated with blue, green and white Íznik tiles. The colors, the design and the tiles call your attention.

Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque - Sultan Ahmed Mosque - Sultanahmet Camii. (1609-1616) The name Blue Mosque comes from the blue tiles adorning the walls of its interior. Don’t rush, stop there inside to absorve the environment.

Kapalıçarşı - Grand Bazaar

One of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world: 61 covered streets and over 3 000 shops. Get lost...


Ayasofya is a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey. The completion date was in 537 - 1475 years ago!!!

Welcome Rests With Strong Tea

The hot and strong tea found everywhere throughout Istanbul is the thing I miss most about my visit to Turkey. Whether in a tea house, on the street, after dinner, or with sweets, I savored each and every sip and the breaks we took throughout the day to enjoy it.

Tickets for Live Shows and Cultural Events

When A-list rock stars, international and domestic artists, world-class festivals, and other events roll into town, chances are you can buy tickets online from Biletix. If you’re looking to experience a festival, sporting event, or cultural show during your stay in Istanbul, visit the website to view the upcoming events for the city.

How to Use an Istanbul Taxi

Istanbul taxis are an experience. Sometimes you can avoid them. Sometimes you can’t. Sometimes they’re honest. Sometimes they’re not. Here are a few insider tips to successfully use the yellow taxis of Istanbul—all inspired by the experiences of other tourists. * Most taxi drivers do not speak English. Write down your destination, carry your hotel card, and always use the meter—don’t negotiate prices upfront. * The night and day fixed start fee is 3.20TL, with 2.00TL added for every kilometer. Delays in traffic and toll roads will incur additional charges. * Avoid the taxis that try to get your attention or the parked taxis along the tram line in the vicinity of the Hagia Sophia and Hippodrome in Sultanahmet. These guys are renowned for ripping off tourists. Ask your restaurant or hotel to book a taxi for you. * If you want to go to Topkapi Palace, do know there is a neighborhood also called Topkapi—it’s nowhere near the palace and an extra 20TL. Ask you hotel to order your taxi to Topkapi Palace or get the tram to Gülhane or Sultanahmet and walk the short distance to the palace. * The government has started phasing out orange-colored 5TL notes because they look like the 50TL note. Until the old 5TL notes are phased out completely, avoid handing over a 50TL note for fares. With a quick switch the driver can say you paid 5TL. Confused, you pay more! * “Slow down!” in Turkish is “Yavash, yavash!” The words come in handy. Iyi yolculuklar (Have a good journey)!

Off the Beaten Path: Best Warning Sign Ever

My roommates and I got really sick of people trying to constantly trying to convince us to go on overpriced tours while living and traveling in Turkiye. At the time we were students, and like most students, we didn’t have a lot of money to spend, and we weren’t about to overpay for unnecessary tours. Furthermore, none of us were really the type of people who enjoy tours or overly tourist things, so the longer we lived in Turkiye, the more we tried to avoid touristie things all together. While wandering on a small path we found in Pigeon Valley we came across a makeshift tea garden, and this, literally the best warning sign I’ve ever seen. It says “Kopek var. Dikkat! Girmek. Yasak.” Basically it says there is a dog, and it is dangerous, and warning you...but the picture is what is truly priceless.

Teşekkür Ederim Istanbul

Sometimes, traveling is more about people than places, and I fell in love with Istanbul long before I arrived in Turkey. I was first introduced to the warmth and the generosity of the Turkish people while living in Frankfurt, Germany, also known as “little Istanbul”, and I’d always heard from travelers returning from Turkey that you arrive in Turkey as a guest and leave as a friend. My experience in Istanbul was no different. Everywhere I went, I was overwhelmed by the hospitality and the generosity of just about everyone I’d come across, and needless to say, I had a wonderful time in Istanbul, an amazing city full of extraordinary history and culture, breathtaking scenery, and excellent cuisine. So, teşekkür ederim ... thank you Istanbul for an unforgettable trip.

Tulips in Bloom

While walking through a park in Istanbul, I was overcome by all the tulips...purple, yellow, red. Tulips originated here, not the Netherlands, I learned from my guide. It was so beautiful walking among all these gorgeous flowers in such a busy city. This is one of my favorite images of that moment.

beautiful hand made iznik tiles of Rustempasha mosque

Rustem pasha mosque in Istanbul. This is a little mosque hidden among the busy shopping streets of Tahtakale/ Eminonu which is about five minutes walking distance from the Spice Market. Mosque is covered with beautiful and unique blue Iznik tiles from inside and outside in the courtyard. Mosque is decorated with about 60 thousand tile pieces in about 27 different designs. The tiles quality are even better than the tiles used in the blue mosque. When you enter this mosque you will see this mosque is more blue then the actual Blue mosque.

Super Santralistanbul with Kids

Opened in late 2007, Santralistanbul is a former power station that has been converted into a five-floor museum-cum-modern art gallery space. Most folks in the know simply refer to this museum as Turkey’s Tate Modern. Sure the Istanbul Modern and the Sakip Sabanci receive all the attention in town, but if you are traveling with kids to Istanbul this place should be on your Top Ten without a doubt. Fun factor for the kids: The Museum of Energy that’s located in the basement. Monumental structures of cast iron built by companies such as Siemens and AEG are fully on display. Kids can play around in the control rooms that years ago controlled the entire city’s power supply. In addition there are 22 interactive scientific displays that can keep the kids entertained. Parent note: The museum is very, very difficult to find. Be sure to hop on the free shuttle bus that runs every 20 minutes from the Atatürk Kültür Merkezi on Taksim Square. EATS: One the best kid-friendly cafes in town happens to sit 500 ft from the museum. Outdoor playground. Be sure to plan the day accordingly. Note: The museum sits 500 ft from one of the city’s top outdoor concert venues.

Shoe Shine in front of Haghia Sophia, Istanbul

This gentleman was offering shoe-shine services in front of the Haghia Sophia in Istanbul, right on the busy plaza from where you can see both the Blue Mosque and the Haghia Sophia.

Street Vendor

A street vendor near the Spice Bazaar and Eminonu Pier in Istanbul. She was selling plates, surrounded by pigeons. This is one of the busiest points in Istanbul, since the Eminonu Pier is from where boats depart from the European side or arrive from the Asian side.

The Evening Paper

In the outer courtyard of one of Istanbul’s sprawling grand mosques, an elder man takes a quite moment in the early evening to read.

Istanbul, picture paradise

The first time I visited Istanbul, I was so overwhelmed with the “otherness” of the city (compared with what I’d experienced in my life to that point) I was taking pictures of absolutely everything, indiscriminately. From a quieter vantage point, looking through the photos back at home, they seemed to me a chaotic record, but one that told a sort of story of discovery. My wonder and compulsive need to document every single detail had resulted in shots that I wouldn’t have captured if I’d been focused on having myself photographed in front of Hagia Sophia or in the Great Bazaar. Pictures of Istanbul just being Istanbul in all its hazy, exotic glory. Get a bed at one of the hostels in the Sultan Ahmed neighborhood near the Blue Mosque, and spend a few days simply walking and noticing (and photographing?) all the little, everyday scenes that turn the city from something “other” into something familiar and even more beautiful.

A View of Galata Tower

I can’t remember exactly where I was standing when I took this photo but it is obvious why I was captivated by the view. We stayed in the historic part of the city but I’m glad we ventured beyond the trees, and across the water to the Galata Tower area of the city. It had a completely different vibe and offered a nice counterpart to other other experiences in the city.

Forty Years of Friendship Coffee and Seven New Friends

They say a cup of Turkish Coffee is worth 40 years of friendship, but between us, we had barely more than seven. Our Holy Week sojourn to Istanbul was punctuated by food, apple tea, baklava and the tart black coffee riddled with the coarse grains while straddling two continents. I can’t say I met my best friends or preferred traveling companions on the trip, but our quick trips to fill our bellies between monuments and marriage proposals will stay with me for more than forty years.

My Personal Turkish Delight

Nothing characterizes my trip to Turkey like a full stomach. Each afternoon centered around kebabs or simit consumption, and we sought out the most delicious dishes we could find. Though we didn’t pop in to this man’s meat haven, I loved his beckoning smile. Just gotta lower your prices and I’m there, buddy.

Back of the Little Aya Sofya

Strolling around Istanbul came to be our favorite activity while visiting for eight days. The major sights are beautiful, of course, but are mega populated. This mosque, we found all to ourselves. Being able to inhabit this mosque alone gave it a special feeling rather than just that of a tourist sight. We were able to just walk in, take pictures, and admire the intricate details. When we were leaving, I saw a small pathway that led around the back of the mosque, curious, I pulled my husband back and I snapped this shot. Unlike anything we saw.

Fast Fruit

After having spent all of 20 minutes atop the Galata Tower, my husband and I took to meandering the streets, deciding to trek on foot to Istanbul Modern museum. Along the way we photographed stray dogs, kebab stands, shops, and of course the amazing architecture. But, here amongst the cobbled paths sat a beautiful bounty of fruit for sale. The colors of Istanbul are already defiant of doldrums, now healthy fruit took center stage. Walk around the areas where the major sites are located. Galata Tower was nice for a panorma, but I took more photographs on foot as my curiosity took me from street to street.

Men and their döner kebab

The gentlemen of this fine döner kebab joint in Istanbul near the New Mosque happily posed for this photo after serving us delicious lunch. Kebab joints like this one in Istanbul are as ubiquitous as McDonald’s or Starbucks in the U.S. The döner is the big chunk of meat spinning vertically in the front of these restaurants and it’s no accident that you can see it from the street. Your mouth starts watering as soon as you walk into this city, literally.

Ramadan in Istanbul

Tables are all set up awaiting for customers to break fast during the Islamic month of Ramadan in Istanbul.

2 cervezas por favor

do i have to say anything else :)

sub urban train

taking the sub urban train is an experience for an american is like riding on the old russian regime like if you where on those movies like Dr Zhivago

View of the Bosporus from Suleymaniye Mosque

The Istanbul skyline is dominated by the beautiful Suleymaniye (the Magnificent) Mosque. From its gardens you can see down below to the Golden Horn and across the Bosporus to Asia on the other side.

Istanbul Spice Market

We found the Istanbul Spice Market to be so much more interesting and fun to visit than the Grand Bazaar. It felt like there were many more locals there buying their goods than in the Bazaar. We went almost every day.

Feast For the Eyes

walking through the spice market in istanbul is total sensory overload!!!

Baklava-Induced Food Coma

Sample all the kebap you crave, eat all the manti you can manage, but don’t forget to save room for the baklava. Stroll up the streets behind Aya Sofya, and let your mouth water over the hundreds of different types of these delicate pastries on display. When you find the kind you can’t live without (or, in my case, the kinds), create a to-go box. Have a picnic in the park at Topkapi Palace, sit in the courtyard of the Blue Mosque, or take them across the Bosphorus on a boat ride. They also make for excellent midnight snacks!

Dancing for the Divine

The Secret Turning A secret turning in us makes the universe turn. Head unaware of feet, and feet head. Neither cares. They keep turning. ~Rumi In the West, we view the dancing of whirling dervishes as an entertaining performance. In the East, it is a sacred and spiritual ritual of Sufism. By spinning seamlessly for many minutes, the dervish achieves divine knowledge and love through a personal relationship with God. After the ritual we did not clap, but instead sat in reverence for the blissful energy that was created. My time in Istanbul was culturally enriching, to say the least. Throughout the day the towering minarets would ring the call to prayer—a mystical echo you could hear for miles. My curiosity led me to the grand bazaar, where I wove in and out of shops tasting unique spices and teas. The Hagia Sophia revealed her strength, and Blue Mosque offered her beauty. Later in the evening I went to a Turkish bath, where I lay on a hot stone slab to sweat, then was washed from head to toe by a local Turkish woman. After that unique spa experience, I slept peacefully overlooking the city’s most revered mosques. If you’re looking to escape and go on a magic carpet ride, then Turkey is definitely the place for you!

The Surrey with the Fringe on Top!

If you’re visiting Istanbul and find yourself in need of a break from all the shopping, bargaining, cafes, bazars, mosques, and museums, why not get off your feet for awhile by taking a ferry out to the nine Princes Islands in the Sea of Marmara. The largest of the nine is known as Büyükada, the “Big Island.” You can catch a ferry on the European side at Katabas to Büyükada easily. Make sure you take a ferry time schedule with you. My friend and I bought our return ticket right away when we arrived at Büyükada. It takes about an hour plus there and back, unless you’re lucky enough to catch an express as there are passenger stop offs along the way. Take some bread with you as well for the seagulls that follow the ferries. Once there you can either rent a bike as there are numerous bicycle shops with hourly prices or you can hire a phaeton horse carriage and take tours of varying times and prices to see all that this charming island has to offer. One of the notable sites is the Church of St. George. Be prepared for a steep hike at the end of which you’ll be rewarded with a magnificent panoramic view.

Earthly Splendors -- Heavenly Light

There is something about the Aya Sofya -- Hagia Sophia that keeps me coming back for more. Dedicated in the fourth century, the beauty of this enormous structure transcends time and place. One of the main tourists sights on the Istanbul circuit, it never disappoints and is not to be missed. What can I say new here that hasn’t been said before...only this, take your time here, watch the light change against the lights, mosaics and halls. It’s such a peaceful place, even though you’re only one of hundreds visiting in a single moment. Take the time and allow yourself to be awe struck. The rest of Istanbul can wait.

Turkish Delight and Then Some!

Besides carpets, spices, and mosques, there is one last thing that you’re guaranteed to see a lot of while visiting Istanbul, and that’s candy stores selling Turkish delight. Take a break from your itinerary, and stop at one of the hundreds of shops selling these sweets. Get a small box with a hand-picked assortment to go and find a great vista to take in while consuming some delectable delicacies. I go for the rosewater-flavored Turkish delight and the baklava with pistachios.

A restive break at Türk Ocaği

Istanbul is such a great and easy city to visit and explore. As you’re walking around sampling its delights, if you happen to be close to the Çemberlitaş tram stop, look for a cemetery, which is right by the Sultan Mahmut Turbesi on the corner of Divan Yolu Cd and Bab-i Ali Cd. It’s surrounded by a stone wall with open grilled wrought iron windows and at its opening it has a beautiful large wrought iron gate. As you venture into the cemetery and walk amongst the beautifully carved ottoman tombs you will see housed in the rear back a tea house called Türk Ocağı Kültür Sanat Merkez. My friend and just happened upon it at night when checking out the cemetery. It’s a local and seemingly popular place to hang out that was filled with students/locals taking tea and a few enjoying a nargile. For us, it was nice to get off our feet, warm up, and have access to free Wi-Fi for a few minutes while enjoying some inexpensive apple tea.

Magnificent Seagulls

On the boat to Prince’s Islands, the seagulls were soaring! They flew close to the boat and it felt like they were rejoicing in flight.


Magnificent Travel is a tour operator and a travel agency with fully guided tours covering Turkey, Greece and Egypt


Magnificent Travel is a tour operator and a travel agency with fully guided tours covering Turkey, Greece and Egypt


Magnificent Travel is a tour operator and a travel agency with fully guided tours covering Turkey, Greece and Egypt


Magnificent Travel is a tour operator and a travel agency with fully guided tours covering Turkey, Greece and Egypt

Outside the Hotel Centrum

Every night was alive with activity. The restaurants and shops were lit up and you could smell the lamb stew cooking when you walked down the streets

Ancient city still thriving

Istanbul has always been one of the largest cities in the world and has been the center of four empires, being Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman. Today it is a city of 14 million people and is the 2nd most populous city in the world and the largest European city in size, which is over 2,000 square miles, or larger than the state of Delaware. It is a very young city with an average age of under 29 years old. The historical neighborhoods and Unesco Heritage sites make it one of the most visited cities in the world and has made the neighborhoods along the coast of the Bosphorus some of the most exclusive neighborhoods and some of the grandest homes. Some are owned by international stars from Europe and the U.S. The food is amazing, so varied and unique and nothing like what you get outside of Turkey dressed as Turkish food. The people are awesome, especially the younger crowd who is hoping for a day when religious leanings stay our of their politics and legal systems. The shopping centers are amazing, crammed with all types of shops, cafes, and services in dozens of streets all found in five and six story buildings going from the Galata Bridge to Taksim Square. You have to visit the Topkapi Palace, The Blue Mosque, the Cistern Basilica, Hagia Sophia Museum, and visit the Egyptian bazaar. Also spend time on the Prince Islands, each one with its own flavor and flair. A nice diversion from the crowded city. I can’t stress enough, visit Istanbul!

Instantly, Istanbul!

Having always wanted to go to Turkey, I seized the moment when I saw that a flight there was on sale and was on a plane 72 hours later for a whip-snapping three day stay. What a place! SO huge and ancient that it reminded me of Rome in some parts. If you have not been you must go. Now! A fantastic cultural experience where you will be forced out of your comfort zone and English is hardly spoken or written.

Meet the cats who rule Istanbul

Within a few hours in Istanbul, you’ll see the city is full of apparently well-cared-for street cats. Our landlord told us the Prophet Muhammad liked – or at least tolerated – cats, and they’ve always been welcome in Istanbul, a predominantly Muslim society.

The Cats That Rule Istanbul

We saw dozens of street cats during our week in Istanbul. They stalked the city’s cobbled alleys, waited for scraps under the white tablecloths of seafood restaurants, and sunned on the hoods of parked cars. No one seemed to mind them. Shops allowed the cats to sleep in their doorways. Waiters ignored the furry beggars. Residents left out small bowls of food and milk on their back stoops. It’s believed the Prophet Muhammad liked – or at least tolerated – cats, and they’ve always been welcome in Istanbul, a predominantly Muslim society.

Looking for the essence of Istanbul?

Istanbul’s most popular city tour takes in Sultanahmet, a confusion of cobbled streets, imposing architecture, vibrant shops and lively cafes. Whether you are on foot, or public transport, it couldn’t be easier to find your way around. Sultanahmet is beautifully maintained and well signposted. Along the way, you can pause for snacks, delicious Turkish meals at pavement cafes – even a Turkish bath! Aya Sofya captures the essence of Istanbul and Turkey. The beauty of its interior embraces a rich transcontinental history and the significant religious shifts of two millennia. Built in the sixth century, this remarkable building features a dazzling collection of mosaics. The most notable aspect of Aya Sofya is the size of the central dome, which measures over 55 metres from ground level, and over 30 metres in diameter. (Quite big then!) It has been rebuilt and strengthened more than once in its history, following damage by earthquakes and fire.

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