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Istanbul a sprawling city previously known as Constantinople and Byzantium, has been capital of the Roman and Ottoman Empires during the last 2000 years and at 12-15 million people, now is the largest city in Turkey.  Now that Turkey is a prospective member of the European Union and bridge between the West and the Islamic worlds this will become one of the largest cities in the EU. 

We visited as tourists on our way from Turkey to Central Europe mid 2004 and Judi attended the Istanbul Boat Show in early 2005.  Both visits offered opportunities to wander through tourist attractions, back streets, and markets.  Some of the highlights included:


Blue Mosque

This is largest mosque in Turkey with six minarets gracing the sky above its marble dome.  It is open for visitors at all times during the day except during prayer time out of respect to worshippers.  The tile-work on the floors and walls was exquisite and yet modest, in typical Islamic style, but beautiful. Outside, touts sold tea and souvenirs.

Grand Bazaar

The shopping Mecca of Istanbul is the Grand Bazaar, a complex covering several square blocks with all manner of carpets, brass works, ceramics, leather goods, and just plain fun stuff to look at.  Dating from Medieval times, it currently has 3000-4000 shops and it is easy to lose one's way in the twisting alley-ways.  We succumbed to carpet-fever and bought a small one for our motor-home.


As can be expected from a city that has been the center of several civilizations, Istanbul has many palaces and mosques.  We visited the Aya Sofya (left), a church built by Emperor Justinian in 537 AD, converted to a mosque in the 1450's, and to a museum in 1935 by Ataturk.  The other biggie is the Topkapi Palace (right) built as a ruler's palace and harem in 1453 AD.  It shows again how rulers of all persuasions generally put their luxury and comfort ahead of the needs of the population at large.

Istanbul Boat Show

In February 2005 Marmaris Yacht Marine sponsored a booth at the Istanbul Boat Show, and Judi plus 45 other cruisers took the 13-hour bus trip to spend the weekend being wined and dined by the marina management.  Check our her photos to see how much fun they had!

Most of our time was spent along the Mediterranean Coast, so follow us there.



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