Our family recently took a quick trip to Istanbul and I wanted to share some photos I took of this magical city. We had just under a week there which I found was not enough to explore everything Istanbul has to offer. Incredible, irresistible, inspirational, intriguing, sometimes irritatingly crowded Istanbul made a huge impression on me and I will definitely return there one day with better time on my hands.
Turkey is a popular holiday destination among Saudis and we saw many of them in Istanbul. The city is easily reachable from Saudi and visas can be purchased on arrival. The beautiful mosques, shopping, great food and Islamic history attracts large numbers of Saudi tourists here.
Turks love love flowers! This is from a flower market at Taksim square.
We took an evening cruise on the Bosphorus it was beautiful despite the cloudy day. And also very romantic of course!
Cruising between the two continents.
Taksim Square, this lady was selling bird seeds for tourists to feed the pigeons.
Topkapi Palace splendor. The Sultan had over 500 concubines in his palace! It was so huge we didn’t have time to even see a third of it, but enough to get a general impression of the ridiculously lavish life style of the time.
Mouth-watering Turkish foods. These men were breaking the clay pot dish with the spoon and they made it into a spectacular show on the street where people sat watching on the restaurant terraces.
The Sultan’s harem at Topkapi palace. This place was freakin huuuuge! There was separate quarters for the favorite concubines and mothers to sons and then a less fancy motel like part where I guess the less popular lovers were kept. What a sad life that must have been (for the women)
Check out the Sultans modest bedroom furnace!
Inside the Harem a view to the sky. I wonder how many women looked through these holes and thought of escaping their miserable life as basically sex slaves to the Sultan..
The “flower passage” is lined with restaurants and cafe’s.
Turkish baba enjoying some traditional Turkish ice cream.
Inside Aya Sofia the original place of the Virgin Mary is almost identical to the direction of the Qibla, is it coincidence? How amazing I thought!
The entrance to the Aya Sofia which was originally a church then turned into a mosque.The images of Jesus and Mary were covered and then revealed again after it was turned into a museum in 1930’s. I saw only a few Muslim tourists at Aya Sofia. Comparing to the neighbor Blue Mosque where the crowd was mixed of non-muslims and muslims alike. I thought it was sad and showed how religious tolerance among Muslims is non existent. Why would they not want to visit Aya Sofia as much?
Cat at the Blue Mosque.
Sultanahmet mosque courtyard
Inside Blue Mosque
Alladdins lamps and a thousand other things for sale at the Grand Bazaar’s 4000 shops
I love these lamps!
Most delightful Turkish delights.
Just another of the thousands of Istanbul’s mosques
A sheesha cafe in Sultanahmet.
A poet and his kitten at an ancient cemetery.
Aya Sofia by night.
A lazy well fed and groomed street cat.
Crowded Istilkal Caddesi
I love the cats of Istanbul they are treated so well they look like house cats
Roasted chestnuts sold by street vendors
The Turks are obsessed with the evil eye!
My daughter had many admirers people would come up to her all the time to squeeze her cheeks and say mashallah.Here a police officer stopped us to give her a ticket for being too cute!
Which picture do you like the most? My favorite is the Turkish Baba :)
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Hello there! I’m Laura, the founder of Blue Abaya- the first travel blog in Saudi Arabia, established in 2010. Travel has always been my passion- so far I’ve visited 75 countries and I’m always on the lookout for new adventures inside and outside of Saudi Arabia! Follow my adventures in Saudi and beyond on instagram: instagram.com/blueabaya
I LOVE all the shots!!! The daily Istanbul life, the gorgeous scenery, everything. You’ve made me want to go to Istanbul!!!
Hi dear Laylah, i love your pictures! I felt I travelled too :) Thanks for photo journey. My favorite pictures are the lady in flower crowd and your sweet & courious daughter!
loved them all wallahi,i liked the night bridge photo and the blue mosque the most.
your photojournalism speaks out!
masha’allah all of them are so beautiful. very nice photographs… makes me want to explore Istanbul with my own eyes….
thank you for sharing
It’s hard to choose, they are all so wonderful. Such intense colours and imaginative composition. I wish I could take photos like this. It looks like a very interesting place. My favourite photos are: Cruising between the two continents, Sultanahmet mosque courtyard, A sheesha cafe in Sultanahmet and A poet and his kitten. Its funny to see a stern middle aged man with a kitten on his knee. In the UK a man like that would probably think it too girly to pet a kitten in public. I love the photo with the Turkish food, that man is gorgeous. I want to go to Turkey now!
Really beautifull pictures but if one have to choose I would say the photos of the young men serving turkish food and the one taken of the roof inside the harem. But as I said the whole collection is marvellous!
THANK YOU each and every one of you for your encouraging words and thoughtful comments I’m truly humbled by such positive feedback!!
This made my day, no my whole week!!
dis is a delightful post. i think d architecture is beyond brilliant. i soo sooo crave to go to a place like dis. my fvrttt pic tho wud b d guy wid a kitten.
hv hrd turkish ice cream n coffee to b wrld famous. hw does d ice cream taste. pray telll! :))
Fruitful Fusion-thank you!I hope you get to visit this fantastic place someday too :)
Ildi-You’re welcome!My daughter is a curious little girl, she might get that from me :)
Kat-thanks!I’m really flattered, I didnt think ppl would say such nice things of my photos!The man at the cemetery was touching, he had actually two small kittens with him :)But ya I agree in other countries it might give a “feminine” impression;)
Dentographer-wow I’m flattered to hear compliments coming from such an amazing photographer as you!
Ms Rosenstare-Thans for your compliment, the one from the roof is one of my favorites because it seems to tell a story of its own, like small windows of hope..
Hind-wa aleikum salam, hope you get to visit there someday too!
Sadiya-I love the architecture too its so intricate!The ice cream tastes delicious and the consistency is different from other ice creams its like more “stretchy” is sort of chewy, hard to explain :D
Soile-thanks!I must have taken like 50 pics of that lady walking around with her cup and I liked this one the most..I was sitting next to a fountain and Lamia was watching the birds from her stroller.
Sofija-thank you the cruise was very special and my daughter enjoyed the scenery too.
Debi-thanks!You live in a very beautiful country also, Oman is one of my favorites!
Wow, really great pics!
My favorites are the woman with the pigeons, the sunset pic and the cat at gha mosque.
I am also a fan of your daughter. What is already high. All pictures are worth recommending to me like the most August evening cruise and blue inside the mosque.
Wonderful photos! I’m in Oman and made a trip to Istanbul last year. I too was enchanted by the sights, sounds and people of Istanbul…and it is the land where my father was born, so it was a very special trip!
They are all gorgeous, but I have to say the poet and his kitten is so cute. Rapidly followed by your little princess and the police! Thanks for the lovely pictures.
Awwww your daughter is so so so adorable mashallah! I love the poet with the cat, very very beautiful pictures!
Simply beautifully captured shots…lovely!
Beautiful photos mashallah! That’s true there are less people visiting Aya Sofia than for example Blue Mosque, but it didn’t come to my mind that it could be for religious intolerance. Muslims still consider Aya Sofia as a mosque. More people visit other mosques where it’s possible to pray and without 10 euros entrance fee. Istanbul is such a beautiful city, hoping to visit there again soon inshallah!
Niin kauniita kuvia jälleen :) Kaikki ovat mieleisiä, mutta jostain syystä silmiäni miellyttää ehkä eniten kuva “yhdestä Istanbulin monista moskeijoista” :)
Amazing photgraphy~brings back memeories
I noticed the same thing in Istanbul in the aya sofya.there was no muslim tourist what so ever.I thought its because they think its haram the images are exposed inside and like the above commenter says they still think its mosque.so mosque with those pictures of jesus=haram.I guess that could also be defined as intolerance though.
girl from greece
Love the poet and the kitten. Too beautiful!
C-thanks!It looks like the poet and the kitten is getting the most votes :)
Suomisisko- Salaam and thank you for your comment! I think the other comment had a good point too about Aya Sofia, the images that are now on display there (Jesus,MAry etc)might deter some muslims from going there. But I still dont understand why there was literally only one or two muslims out of maybe a thousand visitors, but in Blue mosque and other mosques around Istanbul there was so many non muslims!whatever the reason I think its sad because Aya Sofia was to me the single most impressive sight in Istanbul.
Kalyan-thank you and welcome to my blog!
Suvi-kiitos!Ei hajuakaan mika sen moskeijan nimi on, niita oli satoja saman nakoisia!
girl from greece-thanks for your insight I agree that might be one reason muslims are not visiting Aya Sofia perhpas they see it as haram who knows?
Vajiha-aww thank you so much for the award I’m flattered!!
Miss Hijabi-looks like the man writing poetry with the kitten on his lap appealed to most women :)
Salaam sis! You have an award on my blog!
I stumbled upon your blog while reading about expat experiences working in the Middle East, It has been an enjoyable read.
Your pictures are lovely however some of your comments are uneducated.
RE the note under the Aya Sofia picture.
Your comment about religious intolerance among Muslims is a gross generalisation. You cannot infer a misguided observation on an entire religious following based on one sight-seeing experience.
All of them are so lovely! Impossible to choose one. I miss Turkey.
Arwa-thanks for your comment an welcome to my blog.
What do you mean my comments are uneducated? I think that’s a bit rude to say someones opinions are uneducated. Makes you sound pretty stuck up or arrogant. I hope I’m wrong and perhaps you just expressed yourself poorly.
It would be interesting to know what you think keeps all the Muslim tourists away from Aya Sofia?
My comment does not mean I think all muslims are religiously intolerant people. That’s just the way you have perceived it.
moi Anu kiitos visiitista :)Thanks for your comment!
Laylah, Im sorry to have offended you, it was in no way my intention.
Often I assume that other people are as keen for healthy debate as I am but alas that is not always the case. I do concede that my response may have been rather unforgiving but as a Muslim it is pertinent to me to contest unfavourable perceptions of Muslims regardless of whose ego may be injured in the process.
I understand that you live in KSA so I am sure you are well-accustomed to the Muslim’s pride and protectiveness of their religious beliefs and their efforts to overturn the negative conceptions of Islam which have become so prevalent nowadays.
Rather than intolerance I would surmise that the lack of Muslims at Aya Sofia can likely be attributed to the grater cultural significance and fame of the Blue Mosque in comparison. There is no merit to alleging that Aya Sofia was discounted by Muslim tourists due to its Christian symbolism since after all it has been return to its original glory as a Mosque.
I have enjoyed reading your blog immensely and will continue to do so. Best Wishes :)
You have a lot of beautiful photos from Istanbul and I noticed those photos has a lot of cats in them. Obviously you’re a cat lover like me. They are CUTE!!! :-)
Fantastic, absolutely fabulous photos of Istanbul!! We visited Istanbul couple of years ago and fell in love with ieverything it has to offer…defo needs a revisit!
Vastavierailulla blogissasi, siis :)
Upeita kuvia, sen huomaa heti ensi silmäyksellä!
Selailen lisää postauksiasi samantien! Hauska tutustua!
Arwa-thanks for your reply.
I found the way you expressed yourself at first a bit harsh.
I understand your need to defend Islam, I am a muslim too. But sometimes we don’t need to defend other Muslims if they are doing things that give Islam a bad name, right?
I’m still in the impression that Muslims chose Blue Mosque over Aya Sofia at least partially for religious reasons. I asked a few people that went there and they witnessed the same odd phenomenon.
Funny how they are both mosques but only at the Blue mosque non-muslims were made to cover, men and women alike. It’s as if Aya Sofia was still predominantly an ancient church and thus it was not needed for them to cover their bodies.
The most conservative Saudis do think its haram to have those images of Jesus in a mosque.
Don Pepe- oh yes I love cats!I have LOTS of pics of the Istanbul kitties :)
MaaMaa-thanks so much for visiting and your kind words!! I hope to see you here again :)
Jäin sanattomaksi…Olet kuvannut Istanbulia upealla tavalla!! :))) En osaa valita parasta kuvaa, sillä kaikki olivat todella kauniita :)
Voi kiitos!!!ihan punastun moisista kehuista!
I LOVE this photo set. <3
hey lovely lady. today i jst saw ur blog by chnce and after ı read it ı felt more am sinking ınto ıt :)) frst of all ı must say thanks to u for sharıng all these:) well am a turkısh gırl who goıng to move to rıyadh ın next month..so ı was anxıous about how to adjust the lıfe there. am muslım ok but the lıfe am vıng ın TURKEY and ın KSA ll be so dıffrnt ı know. but after readıng ur blog ı m feelıng more comfortble now .by the way my husband s a pakıstanı .he s workıng ın a company ın rıyadh so ı ve to adjust wth the new lıfe over there.. ı ll go on followıng ur blog.and am hopıng to meet u ın real to 1 day:) best of luck ın ur lıfe. GREETINGS from TURKEY
I like the poet’s pic with the kitten in his lap. the kitten is looking so cute as she will not go to disturb his master.
Every kind information about Istanbul pls visit http://magiccityistanbul.blogspot.com
I really enjoyed the great photos. I’m going to Istanbul in a couple months but worried about taking my 14 month old, how was using a stroller there? Was it difficult?
Loved the photos, I lived in Ankara for 5 years and loved going to Istanbul always a treat.
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Hi, I’m planning to visit Istanbul for a week and I’m so glad to come across this post with it’s beautiful pictures. Thanks for the sneak peek. I loved the picture with the flowers and I’m quite disappointed that I won’t be able to see them, since I doubt they’ll have much in January.
Your comment about Aya Sofia caught my attention, but I thought Aya Sofia is “retired” as a mosque to use for prayers and is more of a museum. Maybe that’s why there’s a disproportionate amount of Muslims between it and the Blue Mosque. A lot of Muslims most likely went there first because they needed to pray and also the number of people included a lot of the locals. At least, that was the case when I managed to stop by Istanbul for a short layover 2 years ago. I only had enough time for a drive around tour and a prayer stop, which was at the Blue Mosque.
Thank you for the comment Diyana! Glad this old post was still useful for someone today :) Have fun in Istanbul!