I land at Istanbul and a hot sun welcomes me, surrounded by a clear blue sky. I leave the suitcases in the hotel and I immediately catapult myself into the streets of this city, in which 13 millions of people live: it’s big, crowded and different from all the ones that I’ve visited until now.
Taksim Square is one of the principal meeting points, situated in the european zone of Istanbul: at its center there is the Republic Monument, built to commemorate the institution of Turkish Republic.
I rest amazed by how the “new” is able to sit quietly with the “old”: modern buildings (such as the Marmara Hotel), overlooking Taksim Square, are surrounded by buildings built during the XIX century. Looking around I notice an influx of people coming from İstiklal Caddesi – one of the most famous streets of the city – where you can find bar, any kind of restaurants, boutiques and libraries.
I let myself be lulled by the wave of people that overwhelms me and I walk through it. At the end of the street there is the district of Karaköy, that is the ancient Galata, known for the eponymous tower from which is possible to have a panoramic at 360° of the entire metropolis: the view is without doubt breathtaking, because it allows you to observe all zones – European and Asian – which Istanbul is made of.
All this districts just mentioned, along with others, make up the Golden Horn.
Between the areas in which the city is divided, the one certainly more famous and particular is Sultanahmet, known for its mosques, for the Grand Bazaar and for Spice Market: they are the principal touristic attractions. It’s fascinating to see how some ancient and typical monuments continue to be lived with pathos.
The Blue Mosque is still a sacred place of prayer, where you can admire its brightness, spaciousness and even architecture, with Arabic For Muslims, however, it’s not needed to be in a mosque – which has shapes and decorations different depending on the local culture – in order to carry out the Sala, that is the five daily prayers: they are offered in the worship of Allah and their times are calculated according to the movements of the sun, changed then with the changing of seasons and locations. The mosque is only a building inside which there is a niche, called mihrab, that indicates the direction of Mecca, to which the faithful should apply in prayer.
Another attraction is surely the Basilica Cistern (all the Dan Brown’s fans will know it, being included in the book Inferno): it has been built during the reign of the Imperor Justinian, in the VI century, and it’s composed by 336 columns, whose two most special and famous are those that depict the face of Medusa.
Nearby this two monuments, there are also the Hagia Sofia (which become in part mausoleum and in part museum) and Palace Topkapı, with its magnificent parks lined by majestic trees that leave us free to imagine and to project yourself in fantastic worlds.
At the end of my journey I feel satisfied, despite my expectations of this Turkish metropolis were great. It is a place to discover and appreciate in all its particularity even if it’s different from Western places which most of us are used to see.
It is a city unique in its kind, which resembles Rome, being built on several hills: absolutely a city to visit, although once is enough.