Istanbul: The city of two continents
If there’s a city in the world that will never disappoint you, that’s Istanbul, a city embracing two continents, Asia and Europe. With several nicknames like The Second Rome or The city of the seven hills, Istanbul was considered a very important city to control the commerce for its perfect location, between the Mediterranean and the Black Seas, so three great empires fought to have its control, the Roman, the Byzantine and the Ottoman.
Probably the most famous view of the Turkish city is the picture of the Blue mosque (Sultan Ahmed Mosque), taken from the Sultanahmet Park. An amazing sight that gives you a preview of the greatness that is inside the complex.
The Blue Mosque is the only one in Istanbul with six minaretes, showing the greatness that Sultan Ahmed wanted to give to his mosque. He was criticized for his presumption, so the Sultan ordered the construction of a seventh minaret at the Mecca mosque, giving back the relevance to the holiest place of the Muslim religion.
Right opposite to the Sultanahmet Mosque, we can see the other great building in the area, Hagia Sophia. The beautiful architectural complex was considered one of the most important monuments during the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, with the unusual fact to serve three different religions, the Pagan, the Christian Orthodox and the Islam.
In my opinion, absolutely necessary the visit to this museum, with outstanding mosaics, huge spaces and great marble doors. The perfect place to spend some time on your own, just enjoying the beautiful architecture and the many pieces of art all over the church.
Once you leave the crowded part of the city and you cross the Golden Horn over the Galata Bridge, then you can go to the top of the famous tower that gives name to that bridge: Galata Tower. With no doubt one of the most impressive views I’ve been lucky to enjoy in my life.
If you go up to the tower minutes before the sunset you will be able to enjoy views that you’ll never forget. The most famous monuments and mosques illuminated, the Sultanahmet Mosque, the Süleymaniye Mosque, the Golden Horn, the Bosphorus, the Asian part of the city and the European one… so many beautiful corners from a different point of view.
But above all the sunsets, this exit moment when the Sun is hiding and the sky is full of impossible colors. An overwhelming feeling that stops the time and brings you back to those Roman, Byzantine or Ottoman times.
When the Sun goes away the city becomes a new one, even more impressive than the one we’ve visited during the day. The lights and shadows start playing and give you the chance to see amazing silhouettes.
Of course, not only dark colors, when we talk about the Turkish city, we have to mention the explosion of colors that we can see in one of the most crowded places in Istanbul, the Grand Bazaar.
I’ve been in Istanbul twice, both unforgettable, both with many beautiful moments, both with long walks with no defined destination. The city of dreams, the city of cats, but for me, The City of the Thousand Sunsets.
(All the pictures taken by Jose L. Mateos)