Istanbul, a Mystical Destination

Published Date Author: , September 18th, 2011

Istanbul, TurkeyThe mere mention of the Turkish metropolis conjures up visions of a skyline punctuated by countless minarets, bazaars redolent with the pungent aroma of spices, and a history gilded with stories of harem intrigue and despotic sultans. Yet for all the expected mysticism that typically greets Western visitors when the morning call to prayer is heard as the fog lifts from the magnificent Bosphorus River, the ancient aspects of Istanbul are balanced with the modern. Skyscrapers tower over the landscape and the streets bustle with young people in contemporary clothing.

Istanbul’s crown architectural jewel is the Topkapi Palace, which for centuries provided the primary residence for the sultans of the Ottoman Empire. And a colorful slice of history comes to life in a tour of the great halls of the harem, where sultry concubines were once guarded by eunuchs. Housed within the grounds of Topkapi is a vast museum filled with alleged biblical and historical relics, including David’s sword and Moses’ staff.

The 400-year-old Blue Mosque (above) takes its name from the indigo Iznik tiles covering the walls. The edifice is a triumph of harmony, proportion, and elegance. The mosque was part of a complex that included tombs, fountains, kitchens, and a bath. The sun streams in through the nearly 300 multicolored windows, creating a dazzling light effect.

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