I is for Istanbul

Aya Sofia

I traveled to Istanbul in ’90 and ’91 when I was too young to look for culture, yet the city never left my mind.

Istanbul calls you back, as it did  me, and forces you to pay attention. And while I paid attention, it is only in restrospect, as I search through memories, that I appreciate the scope of my visits.

I still remember seeing women covered to their eyes on one side of the road, and women in miniskirts and business suits on the other side. 

Tradition and modernity, thanks to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk who advocated freedom and equality for the women of his country.

File:Atatürk.png

Ataturk

And I remember Ayasofia, the greatest church in Christendom. 

Ayasofya Church, Trabzon, Inside

Inside Ayasofia

As we traveled to Istanbul from the Greek Orthodox country of Romania, Ayasofia (former place of worship for the Greeks of Constantinopole) was an important destination. It is one of the only places reminding the world that before the Byzantine-Otoman war, Istanbul belonged to the Greeks.

Outside the church and ruins Istanbul is a city belonging to twelve million Turks. A place respectful of trafition. The mosques’ calls for prayer are broadcasted throughout the city starting at five o’clock every morning and ending at ten p.m.

We met many interesting  people in Istanbul. And took lots of cabs, because while we drove there none of us were brave enough to fight the insanely busy Istanbul traffic.

It is where I learned to negotiate prices. No one buys anything in Istanbul without negotiating. The merchants never let us go unsatisfied, even invited us for tea. And Turkish tea … that is the strongest non-coffee beverage I had ever had.  

We found a couple of great eateries along the Bosphorus — the river dividing Europe from Asia. And oh, the kabob they serve is the best.File:Ortakoy.jpg

Sitting in a garden along the Bosphorous at dinnertime, the view resembles a most wonderful dream.  There is a bridge built in the ’70s based on an idea that dates back to antiquity; there are modern buildings, and ruins.

As the lights reflect on the water, you close your eyes, and surrounded by all that history, you let your imagination run wild and reinact stories from the legends.

——

Photo credit: Inside Ayasofia, courtesy turkishclass.com;  The Ortaköy district of Istanbul, with the Bosphorus Bridge and Ortaköy Mosque, by Caiuscamargarus; Ataturk image, by Unknown — from Wikimedia Commons.

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31 responses to “I is for Istanbul

  1. Interesting facts! Love the pic Ayasofia.

  2. It sounds as though the name of the church, Ayasofia is derived from the Greek word for saint which is Agya and pronounced aya.

    JO ON FOOD, MY TRAVELS AND A SCENT OF CHOCOLATE

  3. Melissa Bradley

    I am so very happy I cam here today. I wrote a story set in Istanbul called Byzantine Provocateur because I have always wanted to go there. Thanks for sharing these marvelous memories.

  4. Looks and sounds wonderful. When I think of Istanbul I alway think of the marketplaces that you see on tv (although I’ve never been). It seems so very exotic filled merchants and their goods. I would imagine the food is marvelous?
    http://werelivingafulllife.blogspot.com

  5. This sounds like a neat place to visit. I love kabobs and tea. I don’t think I’ve tried Turkish tea yet.

  6. What an amazing trip! I have never been outside of the states except to Canada. What a wonderful learning experience and so full of history!
    Blessings

  7. God! You just took me there and back. I could almost hear the calls for prayer and see the lights over the Bosphorus. You rekindled an old dream I had. :D Thank you.
    Father Dragon Writes

  8. That looks like a wonderful place to visit, so rich with history. You’re a very lucky person.

  9. Wow, what a beautiful and interesting place!

  10. I went to Turkey too, in 2004 – loved it, even if I did get my camera stolen while in Istanbul ;)

  11. scribblesfromjenn

    Thank you for sharing. I’m not much for foreign travel, but the culture and food of Istanbul looks very tempting.

  12. I was just in Istanbul as part of our year around the world in 2012. It was fun reliving it through your eyes.

    Rhonda @Laugh-Quotes.com
    Visiting from AtoZ #41

  13. What amazing memories. I’ve never been there, but it sounds very interesting.

  14. Hi Silvia .. I’d love to visit Istanbul and some of those beautiful Byzantine buildings .. you’ve certainly reminded me of an area I’d love to travel too .. the Romanian journey must have been fascinating as well ..

    Thanks for coming over and good to be here .. cheers Hilary

  15. I have never been to this part of the world and feel I’ve missed a big chunk of important world history. However, as an armchair traveler, I love reading blog posts like this one.

  16. Istanbul hasn’t been on my bucket list till now but you’ve made it clear who much I’m missing out on.

    Pauleen at Tropical Territory
    A to Z 2013

  17. I’ve never been to Istanbul, but as a football fan my team won the European Cup there back in 2005 so it always has a special place in my heart :)

  18. Wow, if there was ever a good pitch to visit Istanbul, that last paragraph is it!

  19. A lovely post! And guess what? My I was for Istanbul too! A to Z bloggers unite :-)

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