Roaming The Heart of Historic Istanbul

The heart of historic Istanbul is called Sultanahmet. It’s got the Ayasofya, the Blue Mosque, and the site of the Roman Hippodrome.

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It’s also got about a jillion tourists, and half a jillion shops catering to tourists. Though when we were there (in December and January), the crowds weren’t bad.

Street view of the Bosphorus.
Street view of the Bosphorus.

And Sultanahmet is not Turkish Disneyland. It seems to have a fair amount of ordinary life going on, along with the historic sites, the hotels, and the carpet stores. We enjoyed wandering the streets here, as we did in other parts of Istanbul.

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There are a number of wooden buildings that look like they could use some fixing up.

2009-12-24 07.12.17Though some sported some pretty nice carvings.

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Most buildings are in much better shape, and I’m sure many are insanely expensive. Balconies and windows with fancy metalwork are commonplace.

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There are newer buildings built right up against centuries-old fortifications.

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Not all the shops are for tourists.

Man selling simmits, a sort of Turkish bagel.
Man selling simmits, sort of a Turkish bagel and very delicious.
Tea vendor.
Tea vendor.

As in all of Istanbul, street vendors are a ubiquitous part of the scene.

The Serpent Column.
The Serpent Column.

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Carving from the xxaldsf
Carving from the Theodosius Obelisk

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Sultanahmet Square is on the site of the old Roman Hippodrome. Among other things, we saw the Serpent Column and the Theodosius Obelisk, both about 17 centuries years old.

Another street view of the Bosphorus.
Another street view of the Bosphorus.

Walking around, you frequently catch glimpses of the Bosphorus with its many ships.

Istanbul is a very large and very remarkable city, I’ll do several more posts about our experiences there.

42 Comments on “Roaming The Heart of Historic Istanbul”

  1. Not surprised to see hotel signs in English, but even the historic markers include English. Thanks, Turkey!

    Interesting that they use A.D., not a year based on when Muhammad fled Mecca. I wonder if they are switching to the less-Christian-oriented system of “B.C.” and “B.C.E.” that is becoming more common in the United States.

    • I avoided getting people in my photos for the most part. I was never uncomfortable on the street in Istanbul. In the south in a small town, there were more women with head scarves and men sitting in groups at cafes, but there were always women about, and always comfortable.

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