After a long day of sightseeing, we rest our aching feet at a little cafe in the shadow of the Yeni Camii, the not so new ‘new mosque‘. This 16th century edifice underscores the fact that ‘new’ is relative here!
We watch resident Stamboulis go about their daily lives as we sip Çay from little glass tumblers set over saucers rimmed with gold and contemplate the tangled skein of cultures that is Istanbul. Its journey spanning over two millennia: from Byzantium (founded in 657 AD by Greek immigrants), to Constantinople, to Istanbul.
Constantinople, in the middle ages, was one of the world’s most powerful cities. Dictating Christian religious doctrine and presiding over the vast Eastern Roman empire that stretched across three continents. At its peak, it is said, all roads led here and not to Rome. That’s hard to visualize however as we negotiate the tourist crammed remnant of Divan Yolu, the thoroughfare that once connected the two cities.
The layers of history are still evident everywhere. Above and below ground. And in its architectural masterpieces conceived by the genius of brilliant artistic minds.
The old blends with the new. East effortlessly with the West. One instant we are savouring the beauty of the multitude of minarets and the music of the muezzins call, and the next we are walking through cobbled streets between neoclassical mansions reminiscent of Paris!
The Hijab and cutting edge fashion rub shoulders with ease, thanks in great part to a secular constitution (set up by Mustafa Kemal Attaturk and guaranteed by the army) and the younger skewing demographics.
Where else can you hop from one continent to another for dinner, in under 20 minutes (by ferry boat) and for under 2 dollars? And on a waterway that is such an intrinsic part of the city, and also an international shipping lane?
The contrasts are striking and the layers manifold. And therein lies its charm, its mystique, despite decades of massive economic upheavals and an explosion of urban growth.
61 thoughts on “Bridging Cultures in Istanbul”
Wonderful photo gallery, Madhu. I would really love to visit Istanbul one day.
Thank you AD. Have no doubt you will love it as much as I do 🙂
Oh my, Madhu. You have given us gold agaiin! Beautiful photos and history.
Glad you like it Angeline. Am remiss again with all my blog reading and commenting. Promise to catch up soon 🙂
I know I can’t travel to every corner on earth but I feel you just took me to a place that beckons. Your photos and descriptions are always impressive.
Thank you Lynne, you are too kind. My photos are passable I guess, not anywhere close to Ron’s 🙂
Beautiful pictures, Madhu, and you always do such a great job explaining what we are looking at.
Thank you Naomi. How are your travel plans coming along?
Great! You will love Turkey 🙂
Whenever we decide to plan our trip to Istanbul, I know just where I will head to set up our itinerary! Great history lesson and beautiful photos. Thanks Madhu 🙂
Oh LuAnn, thank YOU! I would be delighted to help, anytime 🙂
Thank you Indra 🙂
I just noticed the freshly pressed icon on your sidebar… and immediately went searching… Don’t know how I missed it 😦 … I’m a bit too late I suppose… But better late than never eh… So here goes… Congratulations! 😀
Not late at all Kasturika, thank you so much! I just returned from Bangalore. Had a tough time coping with the extra traffic while traveling, but I am thrilled to bits of course 🙂
The blending of old and new is very interesting. I really enjoy your travel posts. And your photos are outstanding.
Thank you so much Judy 🙂
I like the stained glass in the Harem of the Topkapi Palace …
The Harem was beautiful Frizz, certainly deserves a separate post!
Did you like the deserts? I know they are awfully sweet 😀
I did! The Baklava and the Khadaifi were sweet but GOOD 😀 Did I mention my La Boca post was freshly pressed last week?
You didn’t… and I am too busy these days to keep track. Am happy for you Madhu 🙂 Congrats!
Me too, overwhelmed…have over 900 notifications in my inbox!! Thank you Paula 🙂
🙂 Take care Madhu.. .my kind of busy is a bit different and more stressful ;). Good night.
You too Paula.
Great post Madhu. You weave the story so well with your words and photos. Thanks.
Thank you, glad you enjoyed it Ron 🙂
i don’t think you are going to stop with one freshly pressed post!
Ah, that is sweet of you to say Nabadip 🙂 Thank you
I hope one day I can go back, it is so long since my first and only visit to this marvellous city. Nice photos, Madhu.
Thank you and I hope you do Bente. Return visits are always so much more fun.
Thank you Nicole 🙂
Now your posts on Istanbul are even more appealing to me, Madhu, because a few days ago I just booked my flights to the city for next January. I will have to take a good note on the food and places you went for my reference. 🙂
Wonderful! You will absolutely love Istanbul.
Just exquisite. I love the contrasts.
It is hard to capture them all in a short post Judy. Istanbul is the most complex cities i have ever visited!
Beautiful, beautiful photos, and your description really makes me want to go there.
Hope you do Denise 🙂 Thank you for the comment.
That’s one city I would love to visit one day. Thank you for nother inspiration, Madhu, blessings to you. 🙂
You are most welcome dear Subhan! Thank YOU.
Beautiful shots as usual… Love these! 🙂
Thank you Eliz 🙂
I have a huge soft spot for Istanbul and I think you captured it’s spirit brilliantly
Thank you. I prefer your quirky images of Turkey 🙂
Where are Nia’s cats? 🙂 Did you see Nia?
Every time you post, you should be freshly pressed. I’ve NEVER seen a post that was less than stellar. Ah, your choice of subjects and your wonderful histories are the best. Thank you for sharing with us! Congratulations on the FP honor.
Thank you so much George 🙂 No I didn’t see Nia and for some reason have no images of the Istanbul cats. I do have one from Ephesus that I shall post sometime.
This is another place I hope to visit someday! Thanks again for the excellent tour!
You are most welcome Fergie 🙂
Istanbul is one of my top places on the wish list to visit….your post was an excellent way (and one that’s right in line with my budget too :P) Thanks – beautiful shots!
Just got back Madhu and loved Istanbul. We didn’t have time for the Harem in Topkapi Palace so will just have to go back! Congrats on Easyjet Blogger of the Month 🙂
Lovely Madhu! I am not reading your Culinary post on Istanbul, before I write mine. I might be a bit biased. I am planning to return.
Ha I await your detailed report with anticipation. And with considerable envy 😀
Nice Images and Article….. I Like Your Post…
I’ve always been fascinated with this bridge between Asia and Europe. Thanks for sharing the photos.