I have always loved going to markets of all types, and I always seek them out when I’m in new places – so naturally I wanted to visit the famous (and biggest) market in Istanbul, which was the Grand Bazaar.
It was certainly nothing like I expected, which was something like an open bazaar with people flogging their wares on stalls. The Grand Bazaar is just that, grand and diverse. Most of the market is inside an old building with several winding hallways and corridors, each one packed on both sides with sellers and shops. Below are just a few of the things which caught my eye, lanterns, carpets, scarves, lamps, spices and sweets, but there’s so much more. I caught sight of fake Louboutins, gold jewellery, ice creams, jewellery, paintings and hundreds more things which are available on display.
We ended up spending a few hours here looking for souvenirs, haggling and comparing, and came away a little dazed and overwhelmed, not to mention the fact that we had entered from one of the Market and exited half a mile in another direction!
One of the best things about Turkey was the fresh pomegranate, lemon and orange juices available on almost every corner, which was made from bursting full pomegranates and fresh citrus fruit that tasted amazing. I haven’t seen as ripe fruit like this in London (maybe not til summer at least!) but it’s something I already miss, because the taste when we’ve tried making our own is just not as fresh or sweet.
On the bright side, we bought back some spiced pomegranate tea, so that’s something for the winter evenings!
Once of the landmarks we visited while in Turkey was the Basicila Cistern, which is one of the biggest ancient storage units underground the city of Istanbul which was designed to hold water. It was surprisingly busy going in, but once we got in, we could see a huge underground cavern which would have plenty of space to hold visitors.
It was quite dim in the cistern, so I wasn’t able to take clear pictures with my camera and had to use my mobile camera, but the view was pretty spectacular and there was a very eerie, mysterious atmosphere to the place.
The most striking part of the cistern and its pillars were two Medusa heads which were carved into the bottom of two pillars – one was upside down, and one was placed on its side, apparently, deliberately so. There’s a lot of ideas why this was done, but no one really knows for certain. I noticed a lot of Medusa motifs around this city; restaurants, shops, artwork and symbols in a lot of discreet places, which I thought was an interesting link to Greek mythology, and probably points to the diverse history of traders and inhabitants of Istanbul over the last few centuries.
It was fun to see another side to Istanbul, the quiet, atmospheric and mysterious caverns which gave tourists a chance to wander around and enjoy some peace. There was also an opportunity to dress up in traditional Turkish costumes and take photographs in a photo booth on the side, which looked fun, although we didn’t do this because it was busy and I was a little embarassed!
The most iconic places in Istanbul are the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sofia. Surprisingly, we found that when we asked the locals where the Blue Mosque was, they didn’t know what we meant until we called it the Sultan Ahmet (similarly, I’d been pronouncing Hagia Sofia wrong, which is pronounced Aya Sof-ya).
Both of these places are beautiful relics of history, each rich with art and stories which span over a long period of time, and iconic landmarks of the Ottoman era. Naturally these were at the top of my list of places to visit in Istanbul, and not just mine, both places were very busy!
Below is the Sultan Ahmet mosque, which is called the Blue Mosque because of the beautiful blue tiles and patterns in the interior – it is still an active mosque and open for prayers, so it is also a beautifully peaceful place because of how serene it is inside and how well looked after it is. I’ll let the pictures do the talking, it was quite dim inside though so the colours are less vivid in my photos.
The Hagia Sofia is directly opposite the Sultan Ahmet mosque, and is different in that it is now a museum – it used to be a church, then was turned into a mosque by invading Ottomans, before it was restored to its current state. I love that it looks pink from the outside, and that the interior strives to maintain the older, Christian art alongside the Islamic art pieces. Because it is a museum there are plenty of tours which take visitors around, and we managed to go up to the second floor which was a lot more cobbley and slopey, but also very atmospheric.
It’s amazing to see just how close these two iconic landmarks are to each other – I tried to take a panoramic shot to show how short a walk they are from each other. I like that they face each other and that citizens openly visit both places – it really symbolises the contentment of this place. Istanbul is made up of Old City and New, and European Istanbul and Asian, which really reflects in the way these two are positions, they face Qibla (the direction of Mecca) and yet allow visitors of all religions, nationalities and origins to come and see their beauty.
This was a very memorable visit for me, particularly because of how grand the two places are. There are certainly bigger, more beautiful and more luxurious places in Istanbul than these two places, but it is clear that these two are icons which appeal to everyone for their beauty and what they represent.
I haven’t been posting for a few days, but don‘t worry, I haven’t disappeared! My husband and I went on a delayed honeymoon last week to the wonderful city of Istanbul, and we only just got back! I’m still putting together our pictures (we took over a thousand on my camera!) but here’s one of my favourite – a bookshop that we found in Istanbul in the New City – mixed together with old and new books, art work and lots of old machinery which I though was beautiful among the winding stairs.
Our holiday in Istanbul was in a word, brilliant, and it was a big achievement for me since I haven’t been abroad for years and this was something new for both of us. We made the most of our time there, and literally tried to visit everywhere and see everything – naturally we missed out a few places, but we saw some amazing sights and ate some even more amazing food.
A few days ago I saw a really colourful piece of street art in Brick Lane, near Aldgate East which caught my eye, not least of all because of the funky design which shows a quirky character (with, I think, his hands on his head?)
I think this would make a really interesting album cover, or even a sketch, or even a comic series! What do you think?
Part of this weeks Weekly Photo Challenge: Cover Art
Eid Mubarak and Hajj Mubarak everyone, I hope this is an amazing Eid for you, regardless of what you are doing (amd on which day!). I’d also like to give a quick reminder for everyone to remember and keep in your prayers all those who aren’t as fortunate in your prayers, such as people of Palestine, Syria, Burma, Iraq, Bangladesh, Rohingya, Afghanistan and all the other innocent people who are being persecuted in today’s time.
Here‘s a banner made by my eldest sister Happy Muslimah for Eid, her house was colourfully decorated today which set the mood nicely, not to mention all the yummy food and good company we’ve had today! We have another family dinner tomorrow as well which I’m looking forward too, so more more photos coming soon! Please do tell me how your day was as well !
I went to the wonderful Harry Potter Studio Tour a while back, and thought some of the sets, costumes and details were amazing – I’ve said before that I won’t post too many photos so I don’t ruin the experience for anyone who wants to go, but I thought I’d do a quick post of a shot I took of the Potions room, which was beautifully laid out with bottles, glasses, beakers, potions and of course, cauldrons.
I love the atmosphere of this photograph, there wasn’t a lot of light so it was almost a night-time view, but it worked because of the soft glow of the lamps and the blue shades in the shadows – you can almost imagine a student creeping through the room trying to steal ingredients or hide from Snape!
I thought I’d try a writing challenge this week, which is about ‘blogging your block‘, that is, about the area we all in live in. I don’t often spend a lot of time wandering around my neighbourhood, especially because I tend to rush home from work, or jump on buses and trains all the way home.
Every now and then I’ll stop to dawdle in the local shops, particularly the ones which display and sell beautiful Pakistani and Indian style outfits – beautifully draped saris, elegant maxi dresses, blingy abayahs and lovely embroidered shirts which come down to your ankles.
I’ll admit it, I’ve always been a bit of a diva when it comes to clothes. I like having a wardrobe of beautiful things, and I especially love my ‘desi’ wardrobe, that is, my clothes which are more on the Asian-influenced. And I also reluctantly will admit that I probably have too many clothes (somewhere in the world, a Bollywood star is crying and doesn’t know why).
Nevertheless, the Lane that I live near is chock-full of Asian shops with Indian and Pakistani style outfits which are always worth an ogle (and perhaps stepping into the shop for a moment or two doesn’t always hurt either!)
And there’s the flashes of jewellery displayed carelessly all over the display cabinets, draped along luxurious velvet and self-printed silk, beautiful gold-plated rings, jewelled necklaces and stone-embedded purses.
These days, there’s a veritable land of fashion shops lining almost every other doorway, all with beautiful clothes, blingy jewellery and pretty scarves which all have their own styles and influences. It’s lovely looking through the window glass at the beautiful things (although these days, the more beautiful they are, the less I can afford them) and seeing the vibrant colours.
I suppose it’s important to me because when I was a child, these shops weren’t there, and the fashions and styles were completely different. When I was a child, my mum used to take myself and my sisters to the local fabric shops to buy several yards of cloth to stitch herself on her sewing machine (which she still has!) and we’d always have the same generic style of stitched kameez (or shirt) with a salwar pyjama (the bottom, pants). Mind you, we still loved it, it was an adventure going to see all the rolls of fabrics lining the shelves while my mum dreamed up our outfits.
These days there are styles which I never imagined wearing – I’ve always worn traditional Pakistani clothes, and I’m always trying new styles and cuts – but there’s always something else new to look at. I was 22 when I wore my first sari, which was to a close friend’s wedding, and I went for something simple and vibrant (in purple!) These days, there’s every style of sari imaginable, various colours, cuts, embroidery and influences – be it Indian, Pakistani, Bengali or even Western-influenced. When I walk along my local lane of fashion, I’m always getting inspiration, and not just for my wardrobe (although that bulging thing will always keep growing) – it’s a place of art, of beauty, of culture and when you’re fed up of shopping…of food food : )