City Spotlight: Istanbul, Turkey

I love City Spotlight articles! It gives me the opportunity to share my memories and experiences abroad with you. Today, I am sharing my trip to Istanbul, Turkey with you.

I visited Istanbul in March 2011. As I was studying abroad in Barcelona, it put me much closer to Istanbul geographically and allowed me to fly there for much less than from the United States.

Since I was in Turkey in March, it was still cold. While I was there, it was very rainy, cold, and gloomy. I would love to make another trip to Istanbul in the summer!

My tour of Istanbul started with the Kapali Carsi Grand Bazaar.



This bazaar was massive- it had hallways upon hallways of shopping, with everything from textiles to electronics! It was a very interesting experience, and the best part was that you could haggle with the sellers to get the best price for your goods.


The Kapali Carsi Grand Bazaar was walking distance from the best part of my trip:

The Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque.


When I first laid eyes on the Blue Mosque, I got chills. It is something incredibly beautiful, intricate, and significant. This massive work of architecture was just breathtaking.




We went inside the Blue Mosque..



Inside the Blue Mosque, you have to take your shoes off. Regardless of your religion, women had to wear skirts and cover their hair.



All of the architecture in Istanbul had intricate details.Since Turkey is split between Asia and Europe, the architecture resembled both Asian and European styles.

Many people confuse the Blue Mosque with the Hagia Sofia. The Hagia Sofia is directly across from the Blue Mosque, in fact, they are separated by only a small road.

The Hagia Sofia is much, much older than the Blue Mosque. Originally, the Hagia Sofia was a church, then, a mosque. Today, it serves as a museum.



I got to venture inside the Hagia Sofia!





Inside, it had a musty, timeless scent of incense, and you could head echoes throughout the structure.

Every wall was covered in writing and art.

inside hagia sofia
Inside the Hagia Sofia!




Speaking of mosques, they were everywhere in Istanbul!

The next day, I took a trip across the Bosphorus straight, the straight that separates Europe from Asia. On the ferry, you can see the Maiden’s Tower!  It was magical.


After a long day on the “Asia side of Turkey”, we went to Taxim Square for dinner and some shopping! Taxim Square was very modernized and had a youthful, energetic ambiance. There were plenty of restaurants, bars, and retail stores to keep me entertained.



Things you MUST do in Istanbul:

1. Blue Mosque

2. Hagia Sofia

3. Try Baklava!

4. Visit the Maiden’s Tower

5. Try the Apple Tea!


I flew KLM from Barcelona to Istanbul, with a layover in Amsterdam both flights. On my flight home, my layover in Amsterdam was 8 hours long! I thought that would be great, since I would be able to leave and explore Amsterdam for a few hours before heading back to Barcelona. Unfortunately, I was exhausted, and took a 4 hour nap at the airport. I didn’t have a chance to visit Amsterdam and I regret it to this day.


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