When flying in to Istanbul, the pointy spikes of its countless minarets create a thorny silhouette of this hilly city and its mighty Bosphorus river. As you drive in closer to the old city and the sprawlingly glitzy parts of downtown the darts become a vital counterpart to the many domes, topping each other in greatness and splendour.
Probably best viewed from a boat though, the skyline becomes picturesque on cue, with the sun painting colours that match the cities grand past and present glory. So you be sure spending a splendid day in Sultanahmet, ticking off sights, markets and hammam spas with ease. With the exception of the bazars, all of it is worth your time. Don’t even bother for the grand bazar, the building complex is nicely putting your orientation sense out of order, however besides that it’s rather boring. Something a market normally should avoid being at all cost.
Have a stop at the spices bazar though, not worth buying much, but pretty in light, colour and scent all the while. Crossing the bridge to the other side you will find shopping galore, from hipster paradise to boutique madness, stopping at world-class bars, cafés and restaurant to pause briefly between browsing and leafing. Leaving the more popular shores to the asian side or up the golden horn will undoubtedly lead you to the more serious and faithful population, yet life’s more quieter pace seems a better life choice than all the mind numbing shopping, drinking and eating.
Nudged in between, sometimes subtly hidden, but often thrown into the idlers innocent path all too obviously are palaces, overladen mosques, transformed churches, colonial schools and remnants of the cities former boundaries. The one treasure surely not receiving enough credit and awareness are its inhabitants. Keep on walking, have a tea and your faith shall be with this city, inshallah!