The Top Magical Sites of Istanbul- Where Worlds Intersect

With one foot in Asia and the other in Europe, Istanbul bridges not only East and West but two worlds. From the ultra modern streets of Taxim Square, with their chic shops and pumping discotheques, to the centuries old covered Grand Bazaar, in its old section, Istanbul seamlessly bridges the ancient with the modern.

 After arriving in this legendary city I eagerly drank in all the sights starting with the famed Blue Mosque, which was completed in 1616 and derives its name from the blue Iznik Tiles covering its walls. It boasts 260 windows, which bathe the interior in an unusually large amount of light for a mosque. 

From there it was on to the Topkapi Palace, which was once the official palace and seat of government in the Ottoman Empire. The Treasury section houses some of the most exquisite treasures from the Ottoman Empire and around the world including the Spoonmaker Diamond, the 7th largest diamond in the world. 

Next, I was off to the Hagia Sophia, once the most prominent church in the Christian Empire before falling to Sultan Mehmet II in 1453 then converted into a mosque. It has since been declared a museum and one of the few places you will find Christian art alongside verses from the Koran!

And no trip to Istanbul would be complete without a visit to the amazing Underground Cistern. Built in the 6th century, as the city’s water reserve, it is truly something to see with over 300 columns, many borrowed or stolen from other buildings, rising up from the dark water below. I found one column, with the upside down head of Medusa partially submerged underwater, a particular highlight.
 After hitting all the sights the true fun, for me, was simply meandering Istanbul’s winding streets and getting lost in its liveliness. One day I had a delicious traditional Turkish lunch in a underground restaurant near the Grand Bazaar that was converted from a building originally built in 1660. 

There are cats every6where and the vendors let them be... this was a cat sleeping on some scarfs !!

Another day I wandered across the New Galata Bridge and found myself ordering a fresh fish sandwiches grilled right there on one of the colorful fishing boats tied up alongside the river-walk, before venturing to the nearby "Egyptian Spice Market."

Whether it's Ottoman treasures you seek (found in Topkapi Palace) or simply haggling in the markets; If you are wanting to smoke a Nargile water pipe and drink a small cup of Turkish tea with the locals, you will find Istanbul endlessly fascinating. Where the worlds intersect, it has one foot always stepping towards the future and one foot firmly rooted in the traditions of its rich past.

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