The second day of our trip to Istanbul was for sure the nicest one, with the perfect weather that allowed us to do what got us there in the first place. We woke up quite early and the first ‘WOW’ we said was for the perfect view that our hotel’s terrace offered us.
We had the Blue Mosque just in front of us, but also a great view with the Marmara Sea.
And a delicious breakfast.
After all this morning delight, we started our visiting tour. First stop : Topkapi Palace.
The Topkapı Palace was the primary residence of the Ottoman Sultans for approximately 400 years (1465-1856) of their 624-year reign. As well as a royal residence, the palace was a setting for state occasions and royal entertainments. It is now a major tourist attraction and contains important holy relics of the Muslim world, including Muhammed’s SAW cloak and sword. The Topkapı Palace is among the monuments contained within the “Historic Areas of Istanbul”, which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985.
The palace complex consists of four main courtyards and many smaller buildings. At its peak, the palace was home to as many as 4,000 people, and covered a large area with a long shoreline. It contained mosques, a hospital, bakeries, and a mint. Construction began in 1459, ordered by Sultan Mehmed II, the conqueror of Byzantine Constantinople. It was originally called the New Palace (Yeni Sarayı) to distinguish it from the previous residence. It received the name “Topkapı” in the 19th century, after a (now lost) gate and shore pavilion. The complex was expanded over the centuries, with major renovations after the 1509 earthquake and the 1665 fire.
After the 17th century the Topkapı Palace gradually lost its importance as the sultans preferred to spend more time in their new palaces along the Bosphorus. In 1856, Sultan Abdül Mecid I decided to move the court to the newly built Dolmabahçe Palace, the first European-style palace in the city. Some functions, such as the imperial treasury, the library, and the mint, were retained in the Topkapı Palace.
Following the end of the Ottoman Empire in 1923, Topkapı Palace was transformed by a government decree dated April 3, 1924 into a museum of the imperial era. The palace complex has hundreds of rooms and chambers, but only the most important are accessible to the public today. The palace includes many fine examples of Ottoman architecture. It contains large collections of porcelain, robes, weapons, shields, armor, Ottoman miniatures, Islamic calligraphic manuscripts and murals, as well as a display of Ottoman treasures and jewelry.
A tour of the castle will take you about 3 – 4 hours and the entry fee is 40 TLR for the Palace and the Harem.
Going out of the Palace, there was this guy who hooked us up and convinced us to go on a boat trip to Bosporus and the Golden Horn. The boat trip was not planned for that day, but considering that the weather was absolutely lovely, we thought it would be a good idea in the end. So we negotiated a bit and for 10 EUR we got our 2-hour boat trip.
But this only happened after we went to the Galata Bridge to try the famous fish sandwich. For 8 TLR you get the sandwhich and some pickles.
So, now back to the boat trip. I enjoyed a lot this experience, as it gave me the chance to see the city from another perspective. The view was just great.
We first went on the Golden Horn, then on the European side of the city to the Fortress at the end of the city.
And we came back on the Asian side of Istanbul.
We also got a very nice sunset view over the city.
That was the all for the second day. We went for dinner somewhere close to the Train Station, on a street called Hoca Pasa. We were always trying to find restaurants that have locals eating in. We had a lentil soup and a delicious kebab. We then went to search for a bar where they served alcohol. We finally found one where we enjoyed a beer, a water-pipe and a traditional dessert. In Istanbul it’s a bit difficult to find places where they serve alcohol, but if you go in a touristic area, you will find for sure.
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