The Basilica Cistern is located right in the heart of Istanbul's Sultanahmet district, right in the same Hippodrome-Hagia Sofia complex. With all the incredible things to see in Istanbul, many people skip (or just don't know) the Cistern, but I'd put it at the top of my list. First of all, it's not nearly as crowded as many of the other sights in Sultanahmet. You go down some stairs and suddenly enter a cavernous underground chamber resonating with the sound of dripping water and lit by a few eerie red lights. We went along walkways stretched over a koi-filled reservoir lined with massive columns dating back to Alexander the Great. The highlight is the Medusa's Head column, which, to be fair, was impressive but you have to shuffle in a line to get a quick view of it, so I wouldn't put to much importance on it. Rather, just hang out and enjoy the otherworldliness of the place.
Ortaköy Mosque was built in the eighteenth century, it is my favorite mosque in Istanbul. It is tiny but its setting is amazing, on the sea along the Bosphorus Bridge linking the European and Asian parts of the city. On the streets you can buy precious handmade paintings or typical Turkish blue eye amulet. There are also many restaurants where you can enjoy great Turkish food.
One of the most beautiful natural places I have visited: the Pamukkale (Turkish Cotton Castle), a surreal landscape of limestone, petrified waterfalls white as snow. In this photo are the footsteps of the ancient Roman city Hierapolis. I like it because it represents the synthesis of this special place: The exuberance of a geological and archaeological legacy... Pamukkale and the ancient city of Hierapolis are recognized as world heritage by Unesco.
The views from the magical monastery Selime are unrivalled. Almost every rock formations of Cappadocia can be seen from the top of this small city-palace carved into the rock. Do not miss the village of adobe houses viewed from above, the mushroom-shaped and "buds" of whipped cream shaped hills, ochre see the contrast of landscape- so hard, so aggressive- with the clear blue the sky. The views of the Monastery of Selime deserve calm, and to take your time to sit and contemplate. In the monastery of Selime there are so many places in which you cant hide to enjoy this calm place in a relatively easy way.
This mausoleum opened in 1953 dedicated to the founder of modern Turkey. It is a block of marble columns of about 40 tons, reached by a long street with lions on either side, ending in a huge plaza. You can also visit the museum with Ataturk's personal belongings, inc their personal collection of cars. The flag pole is at the square in front of the mausoleum, is 33 m high.
The U-shaped fountain Fountain of Trajan is on the Via Curetos. It has two floors that are supported by columns and two ponds. During excavations of the fountain, they found statues of the imperial family. They are currently being displayed in the city museum.
Since ancient times, every major mosque had a "hamam" (bathhouse) in the building or near it. Of course, the Hagia Sophia is no exception. Its "hamam" is called Haseki Hürrem. It has an elegant and very symmetrical building, built in the sixteenth century. It was built in honor of Roxelana, the beautiful and wise wife of Sultan Suleiman. It was considered the best "hamam" of its time and was open until about 100 years ago. It is now part of an exhibition of the Ministry of Culture. What is most striking are the domes with star shaped prints. It gives us an idea of how small the Arab bathhouses were.
This was the first monument I saw in Istanbul. When I went to dinner, I stayed on the Asian side, as the best view of Kiz Kulesi is from Üsküdar, on the Asian port where you take the ferry. The tower in the distance is beautiful and it is more advisable to see it at night. Legend has it that several years ago a Byzantine emperor imprisoned his daughter in this tower to protect her from harm but, in the end, a snake bit her and the princess died, so the legend came true.
This Corinthian-style temple was built in the second century, in commemoration of the Emperor Hadrian's visit, which is noted by looking at its exterior reliefs that represent the foundation of the city of Ephesus, are replicas and the originals are exhibited in the Selcuk Museum.
South of the Obelisk of Theodosius there's a strange column that catches your eye immediately. The Serpentine Column was formerly part of a larger monument, which together with a pot of gold and three serpeintes was erected to mark the victory of the Greeks against the Persians (V century BC). It stood in front of the Temple of Apollo (Delphi) until Emperor Constantine brought it to his new capital. Many believe the bronze serpents were stolen by the Christians Crusaders (thirteenth century). This contrasts nicely with serpentine columns of Hellenistic art style that we're used to, much more sober.
In December 2006 I went to Istanbul and saw this mosque, celebrating the cult which involved the Koranic school boys. It was a wonderful experience to hear the prayers, although we didn't understood them. We had an extraordinary view of what was happening. We dared not breathe so as not to make a noise. After the celebration, they invited us to come down and sit on the carpet and told us how it was built.
The oldest monument in Istanbul is the perfectly preserved Obelisk of Theodosius that was carved in Egypt (1479 BC) and placed in the temple of Amun-Re, Karnak. The Byzantine emperor Theodosius moved it to Constantinople in 390 AD. The original obelisk was cut to be transported (by boat) and the bottom is based on the time of Theodosius with reliefs illustrating the unimaginable feat of engineering that led to its transfer to Istanbul. It really dominates the Hippodrome and is its most famous emblem. Its pink granite is in excellent condition and the decorative Egyptian reliefs can be seen perfectly.
An unforgettable experience!! We flew at sunrise to the volcanic region of Cappadocia in Turkey in a hot air balloon and I can assure you that I what I saw and filmed is something that I'll never forget. I recommend that if you have a chance to visit this region, don't let this opportunity pass!
With its 11 fortified gates and 92 towers, this double wall defended Constantinople for over 2,000 years. It is constructed of rows of red brick alternating with sandstone blocks and stones. The gate area of Belgrade has been restored with modern materials to help visitors understand the scale of this construction. The area of the wall is safe and the ends of the walls are in good condition.
You're where one of the largest wars in history occurred, I moved to that time, but if you're in this very important historical site you may be a little disappointed, especially if you've previously seen other ruins.
This architectural marvel is beautiful not just for its amazing tiles but the splendid ornaments inside too. The tomb of the second founder of the Ottoman state after the invasion in the early 15th century is here. It's a bit strange that it is called the Green Tomb (Yesil Turbe), when the tiles seem to be more blue. Once, the tiles outisde were turquoise, and after an earthquake in the middle of the 19th century they were replaced. Next, we can visit the Green Mosque, where, curiously, there is a fountain inside!