I’m finally getting through the last photos from our fall trip to Greece & Turkey, and the images of Istanbul are filling me with a serious case of wanderlust. Usually my travel itch is to explore somewhere new, but I would hop on a plane back to this magical city in a heartbeat. Steeped in ancient history and contrasting cultures, Istanbul is truly one of a kind. Part of its allure is the impressive array of architectural monuments that dominate the city’s skyline, so I’ll take you inside each one and give you a sense for the city through its most-famous sites.
The Blue Mosque, also called Sultan Ahmed Mosque, is a historic Islamic place of worship known for the intricate blue tiles that adorn its ceiling. 260 windows illuminate the domes inside. It’s a stunning and mesmerizing effect. We spent at least an hour inside quietly looking upward (and snapping just a few pics)! The mosque is still a working mosque, so at any given time you’ll find both worshippers and tourists, who enter through separate designated doors. Somehow, the atmosphere when you’re inside still feels sacred despite the mass of tourists. Around the call to prayer each day, it’s closed to non-worshippers, so you have to plan your visit accordingly.
Outside, the mosque is best viewed by walking toward the Hagia Sophia across the main square so you can take in the unique six minarets (most mosques have just one or two) and cascading domes. It’s an incredible example of classic Ottoman architecture, and an absolute must-visit for any trip to Istanbul.