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Location - South east Europe/Middle East; Capital - Ankara; Population - 50 million; Currency - Turkish Lire MORE TURKEY

It's a tiring 30hr bus journey from Nakhchivan to Istanbul, via a changeover in Igdir, but the hustle and bustle of the city certainly wakes you up - April 2019.


turkeynote3The five Turkish Lire note, featuring Mustafa Kemal Ataturk










turkey1003aI flew from London to Igdir in the far eastern extreme of Turkey, on my way to Nakhchivan. And if you're lucky enough to get a blue sky day there's magnificaent views of Mt Ararat from the airstrip. I didn't quite get them here but struck gold a few days later (see my Nakhchivan photos for that) - Igdir


turkey1009The drive from Igdir to Nakhchivan follows a narrow strip of land flanked by Armenia on the left and Iran to the right - Igdir


turkey1008On the eastern outskirts of Igdir, near the main bus station, is Noah's Ark, which legend says landed on Mt Ararat. I reckon it's a reconstruction














turkey1006 In the same complex is the Genocide Memorial. The genocide of Armenians by Turkey is better known, but Turkey alleges that Armenia massacred Turks in World War I and the Turkish-Armenian war of 1920 - Igdir














turkey1031After completing the marathon Nakhchivan-Istanbul journey I headed straight for Topkapi Palace, the 15th-19th century home of the sultans of the Ottoman empire. Pictured here is the Imperial Harem - Istanbul


turkey1016It was such a contrast coming from Nakhchivan with virtually no tourists to huge queues for all the major sights, 45mins queuing for security then more for tickets etc. Try going off-peak, whenever that is, maybe late on a weekday. A few extra lire for a fast-track ticket is also well worth it - Istanbul


turkey1020Audiences with the sultan would take place in the Imperial Hall - Istanbul















turkey1024Turquoise and blue tiles set with Arabic script - Istanbul















turkey1028Queues for the Baghdad Kiosk and Marble Terrace were long but the gardens are an attractive place to while away time - Istanbul


turkey1027The Audience Chamber of Topkapi Palace. The number of rooms in the palace is pretty big, set among quite large grounds, so seeing everything would take a whole day if it's busy. I settled for the palace gardens, Harem and anything else without a queue - Istanbul


turkey1073Standing next to Topkapi Palace's entrance gates is the Aya Sofya - Istanbul














turkey1060The Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia in Greek) was originally a church, then a mosque, before it became a museum in 1935 on the orders of Ataturk - Istanbul















turkey1053On either side are 19th century black Ottoman medallions with Arabic script. The walls are adorned with ancient mosaics which were plastered over when the church became a mosque - Istanbul


turkey1056The minbar, or pulpit, is used by imam to deliver sermons - Istanbul


turkey1071The current Aya Sofya structure was built as a church in the 6th century, but in 1453 the Ottomans converted it to a mosque - Istanbul














turkey1069A huge floral display was on show ourside the Aya Sofya - Istanbul















turkey1047In the grounds of the museum are the Ottoman tombs - Istanbul


turkey1045They house the tombs of Ottoman sultans from the 16th & 17th centuries - Istanbul


turkey1075The subterranean 6th century Basilica Cistern is just off the main square in Sultanahmet. It stored water coming via aqueducts all the way from the Black Sea - Istanbul














turkey1079An upside-down Medusa head at the base of a cistern column. Strange, and nobody seems to know why - Istanbul














turkey563First setting eyes on the Sultanahmet Mosque, better known as the Blue Mosque, is a wow moment - Istanbul


turkey1089The view from the courtyard while queueing for entry, which took only 15mins - Istanbul


turkey1091The 17th century Blue Mosque gets its name from the colour of the interior tiles. Well I saw a few but not enough to think 'blue'. I guess it's more subtle - Istanbul














turkey1097Worshippers at the Sultanahmet Mosque, aka Blue Mosque - Istanbul
















turkey573Entry inside the mosque is allowed outside prayer times; remember to take off your shoes - Istanbul


turkey1102This pleasant outdoor cafe centred on a fountain turned into a disappointment, but only because my order for turnip juice, as stated on the menu, turned up as a rather more mundane peach drink - Istanbul


turkey1259Something tells me this isn't the real Harrods.. - Istanbul















turkey1246Popular with local families is Gulhane Park, which used to form part of the Topkapi Palace gardens - Istanbul


turkey1248The water sprinklers go full force in Gulhane Park - Istanbul


turkey1114The Grand Bazaar is a big draw and a must see - Istanbul















turkey1115The bazaar started out as a 15th century warehouse but grew and grew into the present day labyrinthine market - Istanbul














turkey1116Traditional tea (çay in Turkish) glasses in the bazaar. Made in China? Probably - Istanbul


turkey1110For sale, beautiful lamps full of colour - Istanbul


turkey1124I stumbled across a han, or caravanserai (resting place for travellers) in the Grand Bazaar. As the bazaar expanded it took these hans, and everything else, under its wings - Istanbul














turkey1112Buy anything and everything under one roof, or rather many roofs - Istanbul















turkey1129aIf you only visit two mosques in Istanbul, make them the Blue Mosque and this one, Suleymaniye Mosque, near the Grand Bazaar (though I'm also thinking Camlica Mosque as a third)


turkey1131The 16th century mosque was built by Suleyman I, the Ottoman sultan also known as Suleyman the Magnificent - Istanbul


turkey1130 The queues to enter are a lot shorter than the Blue Mosque - Istanbul














turkey1129..Plus the courtyard looks more impressive than the Blue Mosque - Istanbul















turkey1133Inside Suleymaniye Mosque - Istanbul


turkey1136In the mosque grounds are also the turbes (tombs) of Suleyman I and his wife - Istanbul


turkey1127Suleymaniye Mosque is located on one of Istanbul's hills, providing views of the Golden Horn, Bosphorus and the city














turkey1154This view is from one of several rooftop cafes in the city. Centre right is Galata Tower, across the waters of the Golden Horn - Istanbul














turkey1150A great view of the Blue Mosque and a distant TV Tower - Istanbul


turkey1158Downhill from Suleymaniye Mosque near the Golden Horn is the atmospheric Spice Bazaar - Istanbul


turkey1162It's not just spices on display, there's nuts, dried fruit, locum (Turkish delight), biscuits and sweets - Istanbul














turkey1169The Galata Bridge links Eminomu and Karakoy across the Golden Horn. Go downstairs for a bite to eat or a shisha - Istanbul















turkey1174Suleymaniye Mosque stands above the New Mosque, the latter being next to the Spice Bazaar - Istanbul


turkey1179After crossing Galata Bridge to Karakoy I climbed the steep slopes to Galata Tower, a 14th century tower from the top of which are great views. Well apparently they are, but the queues were horrendous so I skipped it - Istanbul


turkey1186However there's lots of alternative panoramas nearby in the guise of rooftop cafes, so just seek one out - Istanbul














turkey1192The Aya Sofya is visible above the Golden Horn - Istanbul















turkey1189Galata Bridge and the New Mosque, which is actually over 400 years old - Istanbul


turkey1196A feline shop front on the walk down from Galata Tower to Galata Bridge - Istanbul


turkey1197Exchanging hope for dope - Istanbul
















turkey1205The Istanbul Radio and TV Tower. At least that might be what it's called - Istanbul















turkey1199Camlica Mosque is a massive new mosque, the largest in Turkey, completed in 2019 on the Asian side of Istanbul


turkey1208The 2hr Short Bosphorus Tour leaving from Eminomu is an absolute bargain at just 12Lire. It also stops at Uskudar and Ortakoy before returning to Eminomu - Istanbul


turkey1214 The 19th century Ortakoy Mosque stands in front of the Bosphorus Bridge - Istanbul














turkey1221Our boat passes the 15th century Rumeli Fortress - Istanbul















turkey1226Jellyfish floating in the Bosphorus. Either that or lots of plastic bags.. - Istanbul


turkey1230I hopped off at Uskudar on the Asian side for a bit of exploring - Istanbul


turkey1232Across the Bosphorus to European Istanbul and what might be the Aya Sofya. Or is it the Blue Mosque? I don't know! - Istanbul














turkey1233After Uskudar it was a couple of metro rides to Kadikoy, also on the Asian side - Istanbul















turkey1236Some sort of coordinated song and dance was going on quayside - Istanbul


turkey1238Besides the massive Camlica Mosque, the biggest attraction for me on the Asian side is the Kadikoy street art - Istanbul


turkey1240I came across most of these in the side streets between Sogutlucesme Cad and Racizode Sk, just inland from the Kadikoy harbour. This one's tagged Magee - Istanbul














turkey1241This street mural by Pixel Pancho reminds me of a robotic Tuareg or Bedouin - Istanbul
















turkey1242A tearful boy with his dogs, tagged by what looks to read Treze - Istanbul


turkey1244Is it just me or does this android have a whistle for a face? Tagged Blank Generation - Istanbul


turkey1245With Leyre, a cool Spaniard I met on the boat tour, at one of the several bars in Kadikoy - Istanbul















turkey1250Istiklal Caddesi is modern Istanbul's main shopping district, a long pedestrianised street ending at Taksim Square














turkey1251As Istiklal Caddesi heads into Taksim Square the police and vehicles are strong in evidence, particularly since the 2019 Istanbul mayoral election results were annulled, causing much political tension - Istanbul


turkey1253And the heart of many a demonstration and political march is Taksim Square, in which stands the Republic Monument, celebrating the creation of the Turkish Republic in 1923 - Istanbul


turkey1257Selling simit in Taksim Square, a circular Turkish bread often coated with sesame seeds - Istanbul















turkey1258I thought these marquees, seen around the city, were food markets but apparently they're like food banks, helping those affected by Turkey's recent economic hardships - Istanbul
















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