Istanbul: Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Grand Bazaar & Usküdar

Surprisingly, our last day in Istanbul started off with a somewhat clear sky, so we headed out fairly early once more. Our first stop of the day was The Blue Mosque. Yes, we’d already seen it many times, but up until that day, we hadn’t had time to go inside yet because of long queues. This time, we were at the entrance around 8:15 pm and managed to get inside by opening at 8:30 pm.

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While The Blue Mosque is beautiful, I didn’t really find it all that different or more special than the other mosques we’ve visited the first day. Nonetheless, it’s one of those things you can’t not do when you’re in Istanbul.

Next we headed towards Topkapi Palace. There it’s also important to be early if you want to avoid long queues. When we arrived little after opening hour at 9pm and there was already quite a line at the ticket booth. But by the time we walked out around 12pm, the queue was just crazy.

Topkapi Palace used to be the residence of the Ottoman Sultans from the 15th century up until the 19th. The complex consists of four courtyards, each with different buildings. Entrance to those courtyards is 30TL. You can admire many beautiful interiours, porcelains, weapons, shields, but the most beautiful thing ought to be the Ottoman treasures. You can admire a iron coat of mail decorated with gold and jewels, a gold throne, Ottoman miniatures of the Treasury, The Spoonmaker’s Diamond and many more amazing treasures. In the privy chamber you can also see sacred relics, such as a cloak of Muhammed, a tooth, a hair of his beard, etc.

Unfortunately I can’t show you any pictures of those treasures, as we weren’t able to see them. Apparently you should do it first as queue to get inside those buildings can get insanely long. We didn’t feel like queuing over an hour to see some objects. Of course, now I regret that I haven’t seen them, but at that time there was just so much more we wanted to see instead.

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Another part of Topkapi Palace is the Harem. If you want to visit this part, you need another ticket, which costs 15TL. The Harem are the private chambers of the Sultan. There are 400, of which 40 are open to public. It’s definitly worth to pay the extra money, if only to see the Imperial Hall with the sultan’s throne.

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After three hours of wandering around the Palace, we headed back towards the Grand Bazaar which we had already passed on our first day. The Grand Bazaar is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. It consists of 61 streets and over 3000 shops selling all kinds of products. It’s very easy to get lost in the Grand Bazaar, but don’t worry about that. I even advice to let yourself get lost a bit, as it’s nearly impossible to keep track of where you are.

Our hotel manager told us not to buy anything inside the Bazaar as it’s really expensive there. You should buy whatever you like in the shops just outside the Bazaar as they’re better priced. Oh, and don’t forget to look up every once in a while because the building itself is really amazing as well.






By the time we came out of the maze of the Grand Bazaar and managed to orientate ourselves again, it had unfortunately started raining again. We had originally planned to spend the rest of our day in Üsküdar, the Asian side of Istanbul which is easly reachable by ferry boat. But the weather was literally raining on our parade.

We took a seat inside the New Mosque (which was probably our favorite Mosque) and tried to decide what to do the rest of our day. But with no other option in sight, we jumped onto the boat anyway (which you can also pay with the Istanbul Kart) and crossed the Bosporus to Üsküdar. Now we were at least dry on the boat. And luck seemed to be on our side again, as by the time we set foot on land again in Asia fifteen minutes later, the rain had stopped.

We walked around Üsküdar for about forty-five minutes without a specific goal. Apart from the Mosque that was right at the place where the boat stopped, there wasn’t really anything we wanted to see. We were happy just to get the general atmosphere of the place.

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Way too soon, we took the boat back to Eminonu, and then quickly walked back to the hotel where we had planned to have dinner. As I mentioned in my first post, this dinner at our hotel was quite basic, but good nonetheless.

After dinner we headed back to Arasta Bazaar to buy some souvenirs and then it was time to pack up and go to sleep as we had to be ready at the hotel entrance by 5:30 am for our airport transfer. *insert sad face*

As you can see, we had a really busy three days in Istanbul and I loved every second of it (except many the rain!). I had expected to be harrassed much more in the streets, but not once did someone annoy me (as they did in Tunesia) so for me this trip was a complete success. To me, Istanbul is the perfect citytrip for those who love culture, history and of couse shopping. I definitely don’t regret going. And hey, at least now I can say that I’ve been in Asia. 😉

Until next time,

With love, Ellen


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