Istanbul, Turkey – it’s ancient, historic, exotic, friendly, and awe-inspiring. It was Week Two of our 3-week vacation abroad. Why did we choose to include Istanbul? Because it was at the top of The Complete Package’s travel bucket list. It was his dream location. And since I got my German Christmas Markets trip last year, it was TCP’s turn to live out a travel dream.
We took thousands of photos in Istanbul, which speaks to the fact that it is one of the world’s great cities. The kind everyone should see at least once in their lifetime. This post is devoted to the highlights from Istanbul. I promise to post more photos over the next week to fill in the gaps on topics like shopping in the bazaars, the fabulous food, ancient sites, and our cruise on the Bosphorus. Words don’t do this city justice, so for now here are some of the highlights. I hope you are as blown away as we were. Istanbul was fabulous.
Click on any photo to enlarge, then use the back button to return to the blog.
That’s all for now, but don’t worry. There will be more to come throughout the week. If you have any questions, drop me a comment and I’ll answer as quickly as possible. Also, these photos and all others that appear on this blog were taken by me unless otherwise specified. All photos are the sole property of me, The Complete Package, and Inside NanaBread’s Head Blog. Use without written permission is prohibited. Contact info is provided on my “About” page.
For those who are anxious to see Week 3 in Prague, hang in there! It’s up next week, and you won’t want to miss it.
146 responses to “Vacations Photos, Week 2 – Istanbul”
Stunning, absolutely stunning! I’m so envious at the moment. Will you be bringing all your photos to Thanksmas?
You would have loved it, Sis. Istanbul is your kind of place. Exotic, exciting, vibrant, ancient. I totally fell in love with the city and the people. We’ve already put together a slideshow on DVD so the family can see more photos from the trip. We’ll have to make popcorn and hot chocolate.
The colors! So beautiful. Some friends of mine went to Turkey years ago and raved about it. I’ve wanted to go ever since. Your pictures are amazing! I may need to hire you to take all my vacation photos.
Is it wrong that every time I see “Istanbul” I think “Not Constantinople”? (“Why did Constantinople get the works? That’s nobody’s business but the Turks.”)
Istanbul was Constantinople
Now it’s Istanbul, not Constantinople
Been a long time gone, Constantinople
Now it’s Turkish delight on a moonlit night
I always loved that song as a kid. It’s also a great “ace in the hole” trivia nugget… in case it ever comes up.
why the name was change ? Constantin be Istanbul.
Here’s the story, according to ask.yahoo.com:
In 1453, Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II conquered the city and made it the capital of the Ottoman Empire. Now under new rule, the metropolis was dubbed “Istanbul” from the Greek phrase “eis ten polin,” which meant “in the city.” The name of the city wasn’t officially changed until 1930, and Westerners continued to refer to it as Constantinople on maps and in speech into the ’60s.
1. Thank you for being better at taking pictures than me. This makes up for the fact that all of the pictures Marcus and I took on the honeymoon were via cell phone camera (sadly, those were actually better than the digital we brought with).
2. Topkapi Palace – how insane was that place?! We just wandered in awe. Those sultans were not playing around.
Send me your mailing address via private e-mail, and I’ll gladly send you a disk of my Istanbul photos. We took tons of shots inside the Hagia Sophia, and if I remember correctly, it was closed when you were there on your honeymoon. Happy to send pics so you can see what you missed, if you’re interested! As for Topkapi Palace, extravagant doesn’t begin to describe it. Loved those Iznik tiles, and who wouldn’t want to lounge around in that enclosed gazebo-looking building out on the point overlooking the Bosphorus. What a great place to read a book or take a nap, right?
Oooohhh… Turkish Delight!!! Love it. Love it! LOVE IT! My bucket list just got a little longer. Thanks for another series of jaw-dropping pictures :-)
It’s not oliebollen, but it’ll do. Actually, we really loved the pomegranate Turkish Delight. It was our clear favorite. The type made with honey is really the best. We’ve been thinking of trying to make it, just for giggles. You should definitely add Istanbul to your bucket list. And once you see the Prague photos, you’re going to want to add it, too!
My parents were in Istanbul last year and they said it was just beautiful…judging by your photos, I can honestly say that I’d agree with them!
Gorgeous photos and congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! :)
Thank you so much. I had no idea my post made it onto Freshly Pressed until I saw your e-mail. Thank you for your kind comments and for letting me know! -NB
No problem! You deserve the accolades… ;)
Great photos – quite overwhelming in colour and movement. Many thanks for posting these.
That’s actually a good description of Istanbul – overwhelming and colorful. It’s a very vibrant, lovely city.
Really want to visit now!
Hi thanks for sharing your photos. Istanbul looks like such a lovely site, a place rich with history! The fountains and colorful homes are really beautiful. Did you try or do you know of any Turkish specialties that are very tasty and worth a try (leaning more towards lunch/dinner items)?
Our favorite food of the week was the doner kebabs with lamb from those big rotating spits. They rolled it in soft pita bread with tomatoes, onion, feta, tzatziki sauce and hot peppers. I’ll be posting a photo of one in the next few days if you want to see it. We ate them with ayran, a cold yogurt-based drink that is slightly salty and really refreshing. Tasted like cottage cheese, but drinkable. It was a perfect pairing. Also loved the Turkish bagel shaped bread called simit. They roll them in sesame seeds that get beautifully toasted when they’re baked. And pomegranate Turkish Delight was our sweet of choice.
How fun to see your photos and know that we stood in the same places, seeing the same things. I know exactly where you took the photo of the old man selling birdseed and where you were standing on Galata Bridge. You took some great photos. Thanks for sharing your link, Casey!
Ohhh those lamb kebabs sound soooooooooooooooooo tasty! Fresh off a rotating spit too! Definitely post that photo. Do you remember how much they cost?
If I remember correctly, the kebab with 2 ayrans was roughly $4 US, and it was worth 5 times that in my book. The best was in a tiny stand on the back side of the Rustem Pasha mosque behind the Spice Market. If you go, check out the Rustem Pasha, too. It’s a small, ancient mosque dripping in gorgeous Iznik tiles. Most tourists skip it for the bigger mosques. Big mistake.
Just saw this post on Freshly Pressed and, coincidentally, I posted on Istanbul on the same day as you! So thought you might be interested in taking a look: http://thegodcompany.wordpress.com/2011/11/06/tough-love/
Looks like you had much better weather than me and my Complete Package! Happy blogging and travelling :) Casey
I don’t even have to leave the house. It’s just like being there. Thanks for sharing. Connie
I loved looking at these pictures. The colors and the history is so fascinating. Just gorgeous. Thank you for sharing.
My big take-home message from this post? It appears from your photos that after what must be many years now, the scaffolding is FINALLY down in the Hagia Sophia. And it really does look like the cleaning & restoration work has made a big difference. Must go back to see the difference in the flesh soon.
You’re right. The scaffolding is down, and it’s lovely. I didn’t even know there had been scaffolding until I saw photos from other bloggers. Look like you need to return soon!
Thanks for sharing. Istanbul lends itself so well to the camera – colours, textures, grand scale. I love that city and am looking forward to going back next year.
I definitely want to go here!
Beautiful photos! I’ve never been to Istanbul, but it’s definitely on the ‘to-see’ list! Thanks for sharing and congrats on being freshly pressed!
I couldn’t agree more. Never been to Istanbul, but I’d love to visit someday. I really want to go to the Blue Mosque. Gorgeous!!!
Looks like a great trip! Will have to lean on my other half to plan a trip soon. My brother’s there right now, though I haven’t had a report yet. Gorgeous pics!
I backpacked briefly through Turkey several years ago. Istanbul is a great city. You can’t help but take good photos :)
This is somewhere I’ve always wanted to go!! Loved your photos!
I love your photography!
Thanks. I don’t consider myself a photographer, although it is something I aspire to!
I love the architecture and colors in Turkey. It’s such a captivating culture.
Me, too. I wasn’t sure what to expect from Turkey since this was my first visit. I have to say, I was blown away. So beautiful. So friendly. So memorable. And I am so glad we went.
fantastic photos! such beauty in one place!
One of my all time favorite trips ! Beautiful photos .
Wow… the pictures are breathtaking! I am living in Berlin at the moment where a huge part of the population has turkish origins. The culture is alive and strong here and just makes you want to hop on a plane and get down there to experience the real deal!
Thanks for sharing.
The pictures were really nice reminders of my time there. Spent three years teaching there and really grew to love the city. My favorite pictures were of the ferry and the man in his boat. Sometimes I would ride that ferry for no reason other than simply wanting to be on the Bosphorus.
Here’s a hint of what the city was like for an ex-pat. Overwhelming indeed! ;)
Great photos, which brought back fond memories (we were there in April to celebrate a “significant” birthday of mine.) Hope you post more photos and more memories. I enjoyed your other blog entries too.
Turkey will always stay with me as one of my most favorite places that I’ve visited around the world. I love the people, their sense of humour, and their beautiful country. I would go back in a heartbeat!
I absolutely agree!
I am looking for a beautiful Turkish woman that wants to invite me to live with her in Istanbul.
I’m afraid you’ve got the wrong blog, Andreas. We only sell sarcasm on this blog, not mail-order brides or roommates. Good luck in your endeavors.
Great photos. My wife and I enjoyed the city as well and also take turns choosing places to go. We also want to visit the German Christmas markets sometime, but we did the reverse of you and went to Istanbul first. We only had a couple days instead of a full week though. Did you try the Sahlep? Cheers!
No! How did I miss something made with orchids? Man, I wish I’d known that before we went. We tried the Turkish coffee. I found it…sandy. We drank a lot of Turkish tea. Loved it. And we drank several ayrans, which we also loved. Your post on Istanbul is beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing the link with me. I have several stories from our Germany trip last fall. If you’re thinking of going some day, check it out. We were very happy with the cities we chose. Happy travels, Pages!
Wow! That was a treat! Although all the pics are wonderful, there is something compelling about the houses by the sea. Enjoyed this.
What outstanding photos. Do you have professional background in photography? I toured Turkey in 1984 and found it the most interesting country in that part of the world. We went east as far as Antioch and then north through Cappadoccia up to Ankara. I was researching for my book The Eye of God: A Fisherman’s Tale.
No, I’m afraid I do not have any formal training in photography. I just enjoy taking photos and am fortunate enough to have a good camera. I use a Canon EOS Rebel T2i DSLR, which I love. If anyone is looking for a DSLR that’s easy to use, even for amateurs, I highly recommend it.
Such great photography!
So much can be said through great travel photos.
I was only in Istanbul fleetingly but have always wanted to return, and these photos remind me of why.
My girlfriend lived in Ankara for almost 7 years. The pictures and stories that she has brought back about Turkey and Istanbul, specifically, make me desperate to take her back for a visit. Thank you for sharing!
It’s a lovely place. I hope you’ll be able to live that dream and take her back. You won’t regret it.
Great pictures, I went to the exact same places a couple of years ago, it was absolutely beautiful!
If I could go back in time and live absolutely anywhere, in any time, I would choose Turkey, Constantinople/Istanbul in the 1500’s. Beautiful pictures!
Beautiful scenes, wonderful close-ups. You have a wide range of talents: long views and intimate ones.
Istanbul is nice. That city in Islamic history is icon of Islaimic great… Ancien Roman in Islamic area… good posting. I want to visit to Blue Mosque, but when?…..
Oh my word–those tiles!! What amazingly intricate and colorful designs. So, I just need to know…did you walk around with your jaw hanging open in awe? I certainly would have.
P.S. I don’t really like sarcasm. Could you point me to a good mail-order assistants site full of Type A go-getters that work for cookies?
I tried not to let my jaw hang, but I did catch myself saying things like “whoa!” and “oh my goodness” and “that is stunning!” The great thing about taking all the photos we did is that I can look back through them and see details I missed at the time. There is so much to see and do in Istanbul, and not nearly enough time to see and appreciate it all. I think one could live there for years and still not take it all in. As for assistants, I’ll happily work for cookies, if that position is still open.
Iv always heard how amazing Istanbul is, and iv always wanted to go there, your pictures are really beautiful and now it makes me wanna go there even more. Thanks for sharing.. :-D
I love the pictures! Istanbul is now part of my list of places to go to before I die. :)
And oh, by the way, I’d love to finally taste that famous Turkish Delight. *salivates*
Very nice. Turkey is definitely going to be one of my holiday destinations. But I would prefer to have the feel of being one of the inhabitants of Istanbul for some period of time rather than just as a passer by.
All fabulous pictures! I especially like the Grand Bazaar photos. What does a Turkish delight taste like?
Turkish Delight is as diverse as the city itself. Some varieties have the texture and flavor of marshmallows (like the chocolate version in the middle of that photo). Most of the ones we tried had a firm but chewy texture; much like a gummy bear, but very lightly sweetened. The roasted pistachios and honey version was terrific, and very traditional, but it was the pomegranate with pistachio that won us over.
And you don’t consider yourself a photographer?!
You are one great one!!! :)
I’ve been to Istanbul – it truly is a beautiful city! It is rich in history. Your pictures of the city are lovely! Thank you for sharing them.
Wow. Simply stunning.
Beautiful images, thanks for sharing!
Istanbul is such a lovely place. I loved visiting there and would jump at an opportunity to go back. So much culture and history and the people are wonderful!
You’ve really taken some amazing photographs. Cheers! :)
Great post. Definitely an interesting read.
keren banget masjid nya ,,,,!
There are a lot of cool mosques in Istanbul. You could devote an entire trip to just visiting mosques and not see them all. The Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque and Rustem Pasha were our favorites. They are stunning. (Google Translate used to translate Imron’s comment)
LOL Istanbul & Prague? Are living out my dream vacations? Seriously, the photos are lovely.
I have 2 practical questions; 1) did you have trouble getting around using English (this is assuming you didn’t speak the local language). And 2) since the Hagia Sophia is so dark inside, are you allowed to use tripods for photos? If you tell me those photos were handheld then I am amazed by the camera and your steady hands.
This trip was a dream vacation. It will probably go down as the greatest trip we’ll ever take. We had a week in The Netherlands, a week in Istanbul, and a week in Prague. Our bucket list just took a huge hit, and it felt fantastic to be able to cross those cities off and make the dream come true. As for your questions,
1. we had no trouble with language issues; everyone we met spoke at least some English and the people were incredibly friendly and eager to help
2. tripods were not allowed in the Hgia Sophia, so those shots were taken leaning against walls or columns; plus I took at least 300 shots to choose from
Every body must visit Istanbul once in its own life… Beautiful!
I’ve been to Istanbul a few times. It is a very nice city.
*sigh Beeeeeaaautiful pictures… and just can’t imagine how it would have been in real life.
I wish I could go there. I am hoping maybe next year we shall make it.
Congrats on being freshly pressed!
Thanks for sharing your fantastic photos. Istanbul is one of my favourite cities – so exotic!
Really want to visit now!
Fantastic photos!! . . . We’re planning for a trip to Istanbul in the not-to-distant future, and your pictures have certainly whetted my appetite!!
Gorgeous photos and congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!
Oooh, I LOVED Istanbul. I was there recently, and would find any excuse to go back – so much to see and do – our week there didn’t even scrape the surface. What an incredible city! Thanks for the post – lots of familiar sights. And congrats on being Freshly Pressed!
I was in Istanbul last year and your pics brought back memories. I loved it so much and was sad when I left. I couldn’t go back this year so I am planning on returning and travelling over more of the Turkish countryside next year
We felt the same way, Claire. When it came time to put the suitcases in the car and head for the airport, I found myself getting a little emotional. I didn’t want to leave yet. It just felt like there was so much more we needed to do there. If the opportunity arises, we would definitely return.
Wow… Nice Pictures… Amazing
I totally agree about your statement about Istanbul. We were there last september .What remembers most is the “chaotic” way of living: no structure at all. But that makes Istanbul so special. Have a look look at my blog http://marcellux.wordpress.com/ and follow the link to flickr.
Gorgeous! We are planning our next trip to go around the Mediterranean, Turkey must be on the itinerary! (And I now have that song in my head as well). Did you adjust the colour in the photos or is this au naturelle?
Some of the photos we took that week turned out dim and washed out because of cloudy and rainy weather. For that reason, some of the photos were color boosted or clarified to remove some of the haze. But no color was added or Photoshopped in. All the colors you see were as we saw them.
Hi, we loved the picture, thanks. Especially interesting for us, as we may sail next year from the South of the greek Aegean sea where we are now along the turkish coast from south to north, ending next to Istanbul for a while.
Enjoy your travels and thanks again for the nice picture. We may give you access to our private blog, but there is quite a lot of text in french…and nice pictures too
I likeeee istanbulllll
What a lovely place. Serene pix. Love your pix ..
Istanbul lovely place I was there a couple of months ago and love it. Did you manage to get to other replaces besides istanbul? I was to Capadoccia and was also amazing….wish i could have stayed more time in Turkey.
We had 6 1/2 days to explore Istanbul, and it still wasn’t enough time. We had considered traveling outside of Istanbul to see other sights, but our main focus was Istanbul. We could easily have stayed another week and not seen it all. If we return to Turkey, we will definitely add other cities to the intinerary.
beautiful photos that reminds me my own fantastic time there…. :)
Lovely photos of your journey in Istanbul. I agree with you that everyone should experience this incredible city at least once in their lives!
Fantastic photos. I would really, really, love to go to Istanbul – this has given me a real incentive to make it happen! Thank you!
Excellant photographs, i myself visited Turky 5 years ago, but time duration was less know planning to re-visit and spent much time for information of Othman empire and full history of the same,will visit monuments and archituctural design of Othaman era.
Nazir Ahmed, India
Did you have pismani and baklava while you were there? I’ve never been, but I’ve taught hundreds of students from there. Your photos are very beautiful!
I did not try pişmaniye, but I did try the Turkish baklava and it was fantastic! It was the best baklava I’ve ever eaten.
Wow your photos are amazing! Can’t wait to read the stories to go with them! Especially Prague – this year will mark the first year in many where we will be traveling at Christmas and we will be going to Prague! Can’t wait! Especially looking forward to those posts. Sounds like you guys are having a most amazing time!
your photos make us want to go to turkey immediately! can’t wait to read more & see more photos. xo!
Wonderful photos of a special city. I like the commentary, too.
Such beautiful and opulent architecture even if it is a bit grandiose. Still looks like your skill with the camera has rendered this magnificently.
I leave on the 23rd, and if I thought I was excited before, this post has me barely able to contain myself! I’m so looking forward to Istanbul! Thanks for sharing.
You’re going to have such a great time. I’m excited for you! Have a safe and wonderful trip.
I was in Istanbul in November 1995, the same month I was married. We had some money (wedding gifts!) and hubby thought it would be a great idea to go to Turkey for our honeymoon. Best decision ever!
I fell in love with Istanbul, every day was a delight, just as you say. And this post brought back beautiful beautiful memories of all the very same places we explored so happily, so many years ago.
So THANK you ever so much! The photos made me a bit teary but only due to their sheer gorgeosity :)
That’s so sweet, Munira. I’m so happy my post brought back all those lovely memories of your honeymoon. Thanks for sharing your story!
Wow, you really know how to capture the places very well with your camera. :)
Congratulations on being freshly pressed.
Your pictures are beautiful. Thank you for sharing.
I’ve never been to Istanbul but I know it’s a beautiful city.
I’m a big travel nut and came across your Istanbul pictures when trying to escape from my daily responsibilities. Your site is fun and engaging and I love how lively your childhood and growing up stories are. Looking forward to trying that crazy bananas foster concoction and keeping up on what is next from Istanbul. Being a foodie AND a traveler, your site might be one I return to often.
Awesome photos. I misstanbul!
I went to Istanbul many years ago and loved every minute. Thanks for taking me back. :)
Hey, you were FP! I had no idea, but that explains the 118 comments. Anyways, beautiful photos! Looks like a wonderful time.
Beautiful photos, thanks for sharing. Glad you had such a journey.
Good job! One more reason for me to go to Turkey some day. Especially liked your “Colorful homes” picture. Looks very authentic. Hope, you have enjoyed and no dollar of your money has been stolen as it happens usually in Turkey.
We’d heard that pickpockets can be an issue in crowded tourist areas of Istanbul, but never had any issues with that at all. Everyone we met was warm, friendly and helpful. We never felt any time of threat at any time. Not even at night. Everything about Istanbul was a positive experience.
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I studied in Turkey during the summer of 2009 and went back in 2010 and just a few months ago again. Absolutely fell in love with Istanbul. If you all get a chance to go back, I definitely recommend the southwestern and southern coasts as well. Beaches are beautiful. The city of Izmir is also really cool; all the cool aspects of Istanbul without the craziness of fifteen million people and tourists all over the place.
Thanks for the tips, Igor.
Istanbul seems to be gaining popularity as a tourist destination. Did you see many other tourists there?
We didn’t see a lot of other Americans, but there were a lot of tourists from all over the world. Being there with other travelers from across the globe made it even more exciting.
The rugs… I fell in love :)
I really enjoyed your pics! Hope there were more food pics! I grew up in Istanbul. And can’t wait to go back for a visit. If you’re located near the SF Bay Area, the De Young has a Turkish Kilim exhibit going on right now.
Topkapi Palace looks like a fairytale castle! And i could not go to that bazaar.. or I could but would have to hire a freight lorry for all those lanterns I would be bringing home! Great holiday pics!
I spent the last summer studying abroad in Turkey, and about a week and a half wandering around Istanbul. Talk about beautiful. I got lucky enough to see it on the eve of Ramadan too, so the whole city was alive all night long. You are completely correct – Istanbul is a must-see city.
We’re headed to Turkey next year – your photos make me even more eager to get there than I was before! Can’t wait.
Thank you so much for this! I studied at a university in Istanbul over 30 years ago as a US exchange student. I can still sing the Turkish songs my classmates taught me and I follow the events there but have not been back. This is wonderful.
I have memories and footsteps there…
WOW!! What a trip! And what beautiful photos! My favorite picture is the one of all the lamps in the Grand Bazaar.
Istanbul is definitely at the top of my to-go list, especially after these photos! Gorgeous! My fave is the second one of the markets, with all the special “lanterns” in it. Talk about visual overload!
nice pic and beautiful country.. :)
Absolutely stunning! :)
Beautiful! I’m intrigued….
i have never been there before, great pics, thanks for sharing
Your commentary and photos of Istanbul leave me in awe, Marina. It has always been on the top on my list of dream destinations and, now, after reading this post, I’m determined more than ever to visit that exotic & beautiful city. How I would have loved to be one of those lucky passengers who had the good fortune to travel to Istanbul on the Orient Express.
So tragic that Turkey has had to endure another earthquake so soon after having suffered through the one last year. My heart goes out to them.
I LOVED Istanbul! Thanks for sharing the photos! I should be writing a story about my time in Istanbul in the next few days… check it out and lets exchange stories!
Really amazing photos.
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Your photos are amazing, and your stories about your trips, as well. Just one question: what kind of camera do you use by taking these photos?
Thank you, Brigitta!
I use the Canon EOS Rebel T2i camera, and I love it. It takes great photos, without having to know a lot about the technical aspects of photography. The camera is smart enough you can literally point & shoot.