Istanbul is not the capital of Turkey, as many people think, but it is without a doubt the city with the most history in the whole country! I was there in the summer of 2013, when the political situation was starting to be violent, but we never saw anything very serious or threatening, just a few demonstrations and a lot of police on the street, since our hotel was close to Taksim Square. Once again we went with Viagens Abreu. We landed at the end of the day with Turkish Airlines, the best airline I have ever flown with! With Abreu we always stay in fabulous hotels, a luxury I am not used to when traveling alone! The next morning the visit started at Topkapi museum and palace:
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Then we went to Hagia Sophia, which is no longer considered a mosque but a museum. We learned that it had also been used as a Catholic church, when Istanbul was called Constantinople and was the capital of the Roman empire. Then the Muslims returned they only painted the walls so as not to see the saints, although in the meantime they can be seen in some places.
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A Mesquita Azul, mesmo à frente:
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When leaving Hagia Sophia there is a mirror that reminds us that we must always look back! There is an impressive painting over the door, which should not be missed! Just before lunch we visited Yerebatan (The Basilica Cistern). If you’ve seen the movie Inferno, inspired by Dan Brown’s book, you’ll recognize it:
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After lunch we visited Theodysius Obelisk, just around the corner, and saw some representative paintings of the city of Istanbul:
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Then we visited the Blue Mosque (also known as the Sultanahmet Mosque), where we could go in and see the Muslims praying. As you may know, men and women have separate areas to pray and in the case of this mosque there is also an area dedicated to tourists.
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We then went back to the hotel, which had this view. It wasn’t quite in the historic center, but at least we could get a closer look at how Turks live! Dinners were not included in the package, so we always went to Istiklal Avenue, a pedestrian street with many restaurants and shops. After living in Germany I was very excited about going to eat a real Kebab in Turkey … disappointment! And I even tried it in two different places, to make sure it wasn’t the restaurant’s fault …
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The next morning we had on our agenda a boat trip through the Bosphorus to the big bridge that connects the European and Asian continents:
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Dolmabahçe Palace:
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After lunch we still had some time to visit the Spice Bazaar before heading to the airport, where our flight to Ankara, the real capital, departed.
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We then went to Ankara, then always by bus to Cappadocia, visited Pamukkale, Troy, Izmir, basically saw half of Turkey and returned to Istanbul for one last day before returning to Lisbon – which is usually sad because it means that the holidays are ending, but as we were flying with Turkish Airlines we weren’t that sad! We had the day off and another good thing about Abreu is that we travel in medium-sized groups, but with people of all ages, families, couples, people who travel alone, so we spent the day with the other two couples with kids of our age.
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After visiting another Bazaar, looking for the last souvenirs, we went to Suleymaniye Mosque. In this one we could not enter the prayer area, we could only observe from the courtyards.
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From there we walked to the hotel, still quite far away, but that way we could see the whole city on the way!
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Galata Tower (for football lovers, it is from this neighborhood that Galatasaray comes from):
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