It has always been a personal goal to travel to Istanbul.
There are no lack of informations, incredible photos and amazing experiences written online about this magnificent transcontinental city that can made any avid traveler to start saving money, on the hope that one day they find themselves at Atatürk Airport .
From the delicious Turkish delights and strong coffee, to the numerous minarets lining up the city skyline, to the architectural reminders of the once mighty Byzantines and Ottomans , to the melting of customs both traditional and modern, discovering Istanbul is worth the time and money.
I went to Istanbul on a weeklong break. It was during the time that Ataturk Airport was not the most convenient to land to, the queue at the immigration booth was one of the longest I’ve seen and making the situation worst, my backpack did not arrive together with me, so my first day in Istanbul was not the ideal situation. Nonetheless, the inconvenience did very little to dampen my eagerness to explore the city.
I stayed at a hostel in the Old Town, literally few steps away from Sultanahmet Square (Hippodrome), where the concentration of historic sites are located. This is a deliberate choice knowing that the most places to see are here and the queue to enter most of them can get really long, so might as well be at the center of the action.
First built in 325 AD, a place of significant importance all throughout history, it bear witness to different events in the city or country history, from crowning of Emperors, to celebrations of Ottoman Sultans victories, to rebellions , to big fires, from being a church, to becoming a mosque and now a museum (Ayasofya Müzesi).
Sultan Tombs, public fountains, a reading room, buttresses, almshouse are found on the exterior of Hagia Sophia, apart from the layers and layers of dome and a towering minaret occupying its mighty place in Sultanahmet Square.
But more than its exterior beauty, what is inside the massive dome of Hagia Sophia is what truly signify it excellence.
With the natural lights coming in from the stained glass windows, combined with the glow of the many chandeliers lining up on its high ceilings, with the apse on the end and the impressive dome above, it is perfectly fine to jaw-dropped on Hagia Sophia sheer beauty.
“Holy Wisdom”, Hagia Sophia when translated in English, considered as one of the world’s greatest architectural works and in all sense and forms is mystical and fascinating.
Once you stepped inside, the hassle of waiting in line will be soon forgotten, it is mind boggling to be in a place where two of the world’s most celebrated and debated religion are found in one place.