Is Turkey where the modern world began? It appears to be. Everything is here from ultra-modern Istanbul, ancient ruins that are so numerous they line the highways, beautiful coastline, unbelievable food, and gracious people. This is certainly a country by which the Upgrade Me For Free travel staff is captivated. Modern Turkey is an amazing place and the ideal tourist destination.
Modern Turkey was founded in 1923 from the Anatolian remnants of the defeated Ottoman Empire by national hero Mustafa Kemal. Kemal was later honored with the title Ataturk, or “Father of the Turks.” Under his authoritarian leadership, the country adopted wide-ranging social, legal, and political reforms. His reforms were undertaken in order to catapult the new Turkish state into the modern world. These included the separation of mosque and state, banning the fez, allowing women to go without cover and changing the alphabet from Arabic script to Latin lettering.
Istanbul is vast and you could stay for weeks exploring museums, awe inspiring modern and ancient structures and seeing both Islamic and Christian art that has lasted for centuries. Since not everyone has unlimited time, here is a suggested list of highlights from a frequent traveler to Istanbul. Some people have accomplished this in 3 days (though were tired afterwards!).
The “must-sees” are the Aya Sofya, the neighboring Sultan Ahmet Mosque (also
known as the Blue Mosque), and the Topkapi Palace. These are all very close to each other and in the
district called Sultan Ahmet. All these sites are placed around the Hippodrome where you can see the Egyptian
In the same district, I would recommend (not in any particular order):
1. Yerebatan cistern (an underground water collection facility) made famous in “From Russia with Love”
2. Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts (unique artifacts)
3. Carpet Museum (this is attached to the Blue Mosque, on the left hand
side as you enter its courtyard from the Aya Sofya.
4. The Archeological Museum (very close to the Topkapi Palace–must see
the Alexander Sarcophagus).
5. The Mosaic Museum-just amazing (near the Blue Mosque)
A little further away from this area is the
6. Spice Bazaar in Turkish Misir Carsisi. Close to it is
7. The Mosque of Rustem Pasha, famous for its tiles.
Far from all this, and on the West side of the city, is the
8. Kariye Camii, famous for its Byzantine mosaics.
The Bosphorus is a sight in itself. You should take the tramp steamer which
starts at the “Bridge” (ask anyone for Bogaz Vapuru). The boat goes all the way
to the Black Sea and back in a day. This is a great experience. On the
Bosphorus, there are two great museums:
9. Sakip Sabanci Museum. Beautifully located, filled with beautiful calligraphy.
10. Sadberk hanim Muzesi.
These can be reached by taxi if you don’t have an afternoon for the boat ride.
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