top of page

A First Look at Istanbul


The Republic Monument in Taksim Square. The sculpture commemorates the foundation of Turkish Republic in 1923.


After spending a little over two weeks in Romania, in late November 2022, I flew to Istanbul. I was there for three days before flying to Greece on Friday, December 2nd. Over the next few weeks, I'll share photos from Istanbul. The pictures in this post are from the first evening I arrived.


I thought all mosques were old. I was wrong! The Taksim Mosque was built from 2017 to 2021 by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. It dwarfs nearby Ottoman-era mosques and can hold 4,000 people.



A little background: I first decided I wanted to visit Istanbul years ago when I was living and teaching in Clear Water Bay, Hong Kong, in 2011-2012. Two of my fellow teachers had honeymooned in Istanbul and said it was incredible. And it certainly was. Its location on the Bosporus Straight, the fact that it sits in both Europe and Asia, its thousands of years of history, and its religion make it unlike anywhere else on Earth.


The Tophane Clock Tower in front of the Nusretiye Mosque, an ornate mosque located in Tophane District of Beyoğlu. The mosque was built in 1823–1826 by Sultan Mahmut II.



Looking at the Asian side of Istanbul from Karaköy, over the Bosporus Straight.


The first night I arrived, after getting to my Airbnb, I did some exploring. I walked ten minutes north to Taksim Square and then headed down towards the waterway in Beyoğlu. When I reached Istanbul Modern (a museum built in 2022, not pictured) and the Galataport Shopping Center (the shopping center is behind me in the above pic), I experienced my first call to prayer. The cries from mosques all over Istanbul rang out across the water. It was unearthly.


It was also windy!





Galataport Shopping Center in front of a mosque on the hill. (Istanbul is quite hilly in parts.)



Another picture of the Clock Tower in front of the Galataport Shopping Center.


In my next few posts, I'll share pictures of the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, the Basilica Cistern, the Spice Market, the Grand Bazaar, and much more. I'll do my best to share some of the history from these places, though I myself am no expert. Hopefully we'll all learn a lot.


Stay tuned!

Recent Posts

See All

10 comentários


You capture such beautiful scenes and the mystery of Istanbul with these photos and your words, Jessica. I had a seven hour layover in Istanbul on my way to Hong Kong (funny you also mentioned Clear Water Bay) ~ and the lounge at the airport was pure Turkey ~ food, photos and scenes, Turkish coffee and such great people. I will travel there this year, it is a must after listening to all the stories (and got a few numbers for guides), so your post gives me even more desire to see this city. I look forward to your future posts about this city. "The cries from mosques all over Istanbul rang out across the water. It was unearthly." Th…

Curtir
Jessica Cyphers
Jessica Cyphers
25 de fev. de 2023
Respondendo a

The Istanbul Airport is quite nice! And I loved Turkish food. Getting a guide is a great idea. I lucked out: I connected with a wonderful Turkish lady named Gamze who was my personal guide while I was there. She took me to all the famous sites and to great restaurants the locals love along the way. Istanbul reminded me of Hong Kong in that it was *so* insanely busy. There were people everywhere! It had been a while since I'd been anywhere so densely populated. Since you're used to Hong Kong, though, that won't bother you at all. The calls to prayer, though... They really are something else!

Curtir

Jeff Walker
Jeff Walker
23 de fev. de 2023

You never told me you went to the Hagia Sophia. A crown jewel of Christendom and a place I would dearly love to have visited. I'm looking forward to your words and photos of that particular visit for sure.

Curtir
Jessica Cyphers
Jessica Cyphers
25 de fev. de 2023
Respondendo a

No problem, Jeff! No need to be embarrassed. I myself can barely remember what I did yesterday or what day of the week it is. I'm just glad you're here. :)

Curtir

Thank you for sharing a series on your visit to Istanbul, Jessica. The photos and videos from your first night are gorgeous. The sights and sounds are amazing. I’ve never been to the parts of the world you’ve visited. It feels like I can visit them vicariously through you.

Curtir
Jessica Cyphers
Jessica Cyphers
25 de fev. de 2023
Respondendo a

Absolutely. And I will definitely make a visit happen at some point. I'm just thankful the world is as large and diverse as it is. How boring things would be if everywhere were the same!

Curtir
bottom of page