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I want to see history in Istanbul

Updated on March 24, 2015

More than Two Thousand Years of History!

Oh how I would love to visit Istanbul!

Istanbul is a mega-city, the largest city in Turkey and 5th largest city in the world. I can't imagine a city with a population of 12.8 million, more than half the number of people who live in the entire continent of Australia.

But it's the magnificent architecture that draws me to Turkey, and the rich, romantic past of Istanbul.

Tales from History

I first heard of the great city of Constantinople in a translation of Snorri Sturluson's Heimskringla: The Chronicle of the Kings of Norway In this collection of tales about the Norwegian kings, I was delighted to find the saga of Harald Sigurdsson.

Harald,(1015-1066) who later became King Of Norway as Harald Hardrada (the tough boss) was the commander of the emperor's personal bodyguard in Constantinople, called the Varangian Guard..

When Harald, after many years service, planned to go home, Emperor Constantine refused.

Harald escaped the 'foolproof' chain across the harbour with a bit of Viking boldness. When his rowboat reached the chain that protected the harbour he ordered everyone that wasn't rowing to the back of the boat and the rowers rowed for their lives. When they had rowed the ship up on the chain he ordered everyone forward. The ship tipped forward and slid off the chain.

Now there's ingenuity for you!

The Last of the Vikings

The amazing true story of the great Viking who changed the course of English history.

The turbulent life and savage death of Harald Hardradi, the last great Norse warrior-king.

Strong, ribald language and lots of action paint a gripping picture of the 11th century.


The many names of Istanbul

Greek colonists founded the city of Byzantion in 667 BCE and, much later, the name Byzantium was used to refer to the Eastern Roman Empire. The Greeks chose this spot where a Thracian city had been standing for at least 500 years.

Constantinople ("City of Constantine") was the name in honour of Constantine the Great who made the city the new eastern capital of the Roman Empire in the early part of the fourth century. I love this stunning bust of Constantine in the Capitoline Museums

Constantinople was the most commonly used name in the West for 1600 hundred years until Turkey became a Republic in 1923.

Istanbul is the correct name for this magnificent city.

It's Istanbul not Constantinople

My mother used to sing this, and it's one of these melodies that stick in my head (when I least want it).

I'll need a Travel Guide

Top 10 Istanbul (Eyewitness Top 10 Travel Guides)
Top 10 Istanbul (Eyewitness Top 10 Travel Guides)

A fully illustrated, pocket-sized travel guide with handy pull-out maps marking all the major sights.


The Terminus for the Orient Express

The Sirkeci Terminal of the Turkish State Railways (TCDD), is the end of the line on the European side and the main connection node of the Turkish railway network with the rest of Europe.

So I could travel to Istanbul on the train! I love train journeys!

I love Train Travel

Three Great Train Journeys of the World
You just can't beat a train holiday. The romance and sheer relaxation of it all is superb. Why go through the hassles involved with driving your car around ...

Where would I start in Istanbul?

There are just so many places I want to see in Istanbul. Where would I start?

Firstly, I would have to visit the Hagia Sophia, surely a wonder of the world

Hagia Sophia

Mosaic of Constantine in Hagia Sophia

Mosaic of Constantine in Hagia Sophia
Mosaic of Constantine in Hagia Sophia

The Wonder of Hagia Sophia

Just looking at pictures of Hagia Sophia takes my breath away. As if the the megacity of Istanbul isn't exciting and mysterious enough!

Haga Sophia stands on the first hill of Istanbul at the tip of the peninsula, surrounded on three sides by water - the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn. (The Golden Horn had the chains across the harbour).

This is the epitome of Byzantine architecture and was the largest cathedral in the world for nearly a thousand years, until Seville Cathedral was completed in 1520. The current building was originally constructed as a church between 532 and 537 on the orders of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian and was the third Church of the Holy Wisdom to occupy the site.

The Turkish Bath

The steam room at the local gym is my idea of a Turkish Bath, but the Hamam is the origin of the name.

In Western Europe, the Turkish bath was immensely popular during the Victorian era. The process involved in taking a Turkish bath is very like that of a sauna, but more closely related to ancient Greek and ancient Roman bathing practices.

Sounds good to me!

Hamam of Roxelana

The Roxelana baths

The Roxelana baths are named for the Ukrainian wife of of Suleyman the Magnificent of the Ottoman Empire.

The story of Roxelana, the woman who made Suleyman laugh, is a fascinating one and far too long to be told here. To summarise, she was captured as a child, sold into slavery and ended up in the Sultan's harem where she caught the eye of .Suleyman. He later gave her freedom and married her - so Roxelana, now known as Khurrem, became his legal wife.

Images of Istanbul

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Grand BazaarThe Church of St GeorgeBuyukada, where motor transportation is prohibitedThe Dolmabahce PalaceThe Blue Mosque
The Grand Bazaar
The Grand Bazaar
The Church of St George
The Church of St George
Buyukada, where motor transportation is prohibited
Buyukada, where motor transportation is prohibited
The Dolmabahce Palace
The Dolmabahce Palace
The Blue Mosque
The Blue Mosque

How about you?

Would you like to see Istanbul?

See results

© 2010 Susanna Duffy

Want to come to Istanbul with me?

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    • profile image

      reasonablerobby 5 years ago

      I went to Istanbul for the first time and it was a revelation. A stunning city great people.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I sure do want to come with you to Istanbul. I can't imagine seeing those ancient buildings. Let me know when we leave and I'll start packing.

    • profile image

      rossarianebautista 6 years ago

      Wow! a very nice place. :)

    • TopMovieSoundtr profile image

      TopMovieSoundtr 7 years ago

      Just came back from Istanbul. It's awesome. Enjoyed a turkish bath - hammam, bought a scarf in the Grand Bazaar, had terrific food and wonderful desserts including eating baklava everyday.

    • puerdycat lm profile image

      puerdycat lm 7 years ago

      One of the places I've wanted to see since I was, well twelve? Delightful visit. Thank you!

    • profile image

      ohcaroline 7 years ago

      Susanna, I returned to bless this lens that I visited earlier. Blessed by BucketList Angel. This lens will be featured on my angel lens: travel-bucketlist-angel .

    • profile image

      ohcaroline 7 years ago

      You've covered Istanbul very well. I hope you get to visit someday.

    • jmsp206 profile image

      Julia M S Pearce 7 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      I would love to go to Turkey! All that beautiful music and food!