We visited Istanbul-the city of culture, history, and beauty. It was first known as Byzantium. One of the most popular cities in Europe and the capital of three great empires: Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman used to be called Constantinople. Today, officially a Turkish city and at the same time a financial, trade center, is the largest city in the country. It straddles Europe and Asia, and is located on a peninsula between the Marmara Sea, the Bosporus and The Golden Horn Bay.

The journey started from the center of Sumadija-Kragujevac on October 9

We took the Kragujexpress bus to Istanbul on October 9, 2019, at 16:00 with a clear intention to get familiar with Istanbul as much as possible in those few days, to feel the energy, and go shopping. The journey itself was not so tiring except for the waiting at the border crossings. Arrival in Istanbul was in the morning hours and the accommodation was in double, triple, and quadruple rooms. We stayed in a hotel located in a part of Istanbul called Aksaray. In the morning hours we took the tram to Sultanahmet Square walked around the famous hippodrome, took a look at Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace and The Blue Mosque.

Hagia Sophia and Sultanahmet Fountain

Hagia Sophia or Saint Sophia is a former Eastern Ortodox Church. Later on, it was converted into an imperial mosque to become a museum in 1935. Topkapi Palace which is located behind Hagia Sophia, once was Sultan’s palace and Harem,but today it is a museum with numerous cultural and historical sites. On the other side of the square is The Blue Mosque ( Sultan Ahmet Mosque with six minarets) and a promenade named Sultanahmet or Hippodrome, once being Constantine’s Hippodrome.

We took the opportunity to visit Seven Hills Restaurant(Istanbul is built on seven hills), of the eponymous hotel not far from Hagia Sophia, and we enjoyed the view of The Bosporus, local food, and drink. We walked again around Sultanahmet Square and went to the hotel terrace on the same day, in the evening hours. It has a magnificent view of the city and The Bosporus.

View of Asia Minor from the terrace of Seven Hill Restaurant
Bridge for Asia Minor, Ataturk Bridge

We went on a panoramic tour of the city with a local guide the next day. We visited the Aqueduct of Valens, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Dolmabache Palace, took a boat ride on The Bosporus, entered Asia Minor across the bridge over the Bosporus in Taksim.

We visited the Ecumenical Patriarchate first, which is one of 14 Orthodox churches. At the entrance itself, the garden can be seen together with the coat of arms engraved on the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Byzantium was at first, an episcopate ruled by the Metropolitan of Heraclea, in Thrace. It became the capital of the empire, the second Rome, gaining great ecclesiastical and political importance, thanks to Emperor Constantine (306-311).

We continued the tour and started the Bosporus cruise. The professional guide told us more about this part of Istanbul while we were looking around. Then we visited Dolmabahce Palace, which is located on the European side of the Bosporus. It was the seat of the sultan and administrative center of the Turkish Empire, and Sultan Abudlmejid I was responsible for the construction. So much has been invested in the palace itself that all the grandeur can be seen both inside and outside. Taking photos inside is forbidden, but we definitely recommend seeing the chambers modeled on the Louvre and Buckingham Palace in person.

We continued our tour of Istanbul very impressed. We went to Çamlica Hill where we had lunch enjoying the beautiful view of the city. The moment we set foot in Asia Minor, we had a chance to stay and hear more from the guide. We returned to the European part across Atarukt Bridge after that. We went to Taksim Square, where we had a chance to enjoy a shopping adventure. There was enough time to go to the Grand Bazaar or Kapalicharshi. It has everything there. You should bargain while shopping, because their merchants are one of the best in the world and they like to do it. There are many places around the Kapalicharshi where you shop with quality and affordability.

We had enough time to feel the energy of Istanbul and walk around the streets not far from the Galata Bridge on the following day. While we were crossing the bridge, we noticed four points that look like observation posts from where, apart from the view of the Bosporus, you can go down to the second level where the bars are located. The mosque of Suleiman the Magnificent can be nicely seen from the bridge. We continued towards Galata Tower, originally built as a lighthouse, which was once called the Tower of Christ and is one of the oldest.

The tower surrounds a mini square and fountain. While we were waiting to enter, we drank coffee and enjoyed the beautiful view of the tower. We noticed the well-organized tower’s interior when we entered and we took the elevator to the top from where the view of Istanbul is surly the best . There is an international restaurant and a café.

We enjoyed Istanbul’s beauty and charm, and had a great time and had excellent support from the organizer Olgica Vasiljevic.

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