Ever been to any city and notice a particular feature everywhere you turn? Let’s face it, the answer to that question will be all cities. Though I haven’t been to every city on every continent, I would expect certain features in certain cities based on their reputation. For instance, A Dubai to me can be tagged as “The city of malls and skyscrapers” because it has the largest mall and tallest building in the world while I’ll tag New York City as “The city of many cultures” because almost every country is represented there. That isn’t to say there aren’t other features that can be noticed all around it but the fact remains that some features are more evident than others. Having never heard much about Istanbul, I didn’t know exactly what to tag it as until I got there and was overwhelmed by the eclectic nature of the city. I noticed a lot of features I didn’t expect to find there lo and behold, here are some of my tags for Istanbul, the city of many…
This is only expected as the city has been an important site to four empires in the past. It seems as if each empire fought to leave a part of its legacy in the city hence the numerous historical sites pitched on almost every part especially the European side. From Hagia Sofia to the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace to Galata tower, this city doesn’t fall short of telling stories of its past rulers and that I absolutely adore.
I was overwhelmed by the number of Mosques I saw in Istanbul. There are said to be over 2,000 mosques scattered all over the city. Taking a look at the skyline, you can’t help but notice the number of minarets that fills the scape. This feature was particularly surprising considering how secular the people are. I needed to keep reminding myself of the fact that I was in an Islamic country and the many mosques did just that.
This city has been home to many Palaces in the past, more than you’d find in most cities (please correct me if I’m wrong). Many of the palaces were built during the reign of the Ottoman empire. A large number of the ones built by previous empires have either been destroyed without evidence of existence or reduced to ruins. There are about four palaces that are intact and I was able to only visit one of them, Topkapi palace.
There’s a cafe literally on every corner in Istanbul (at least the ones I passed by). Even my hotel room was a potential cafe. I’m not sure of the statistic but there was more than enough for you to sip some Turkish coffee, have a taste Turkish pastries and enjoy small talk with friends or strangers depending on the situation.
Cats & Dogs
The number of cats I saw in Istanbul was overwhelming. Coming from a culture that isn’t very much accustomed to having cats (they are used for a lot of fetish dealings), it really weird me out. Apparently, they are a tourist attraction too as I saw them being photographed on Istiklal Avenue one evening. The dogs on the other hand I wasn’t scared of but they outnumbered the cats in no way. I would put the ratio of cats to dogs at 5:1. I didn’t understand how these two could co-exist and be in harmony because I kept seeing them around the same areas. I remember walking by the Bosphorus at Emirgan and seeing a number of them basking in the sun on the sidewalk. Whatever it is that keeps them together, I sure hope it never tears them apart.
A lot of people in Istanbul seemed to be a potential Fisherman (even women). I spotted quite a number letting down their fishing rods whenever I rode over a bridge. You’ll also find people fishing by the Marmara sea, Bosphorus and the Golden horn.
Have you ever been to Istanbul? What other feature did you notice across the city?