April 14, 2021

Istanbul: The City of 3,000 Mosques

Istanbul, Turkey

We have had such an amazing time exploring Istanbul. It’s the largest city in Turkey and is full of amazing architecture, culture, and historical monuments. Istanbul is the home to 3,000 mosques, which are all beautiful and unique. A few of the popular ones that we had the opportunity to explore were the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia, and the Süleymaniye Mosque. 

Location

The city of Istanbul sits on the peninsula between Europe and Asia. Because of its location, the city has been used as a bridge and a barrier. Interestingly enough, Istanbul has been the middle man between conflicting issues of religion, culture, and power between other countries. 

Within the peninsula are the three seas: the Golden Horn, the Bosporus, and the Sea of Marmara. The Golden Horn is an underwater valley stretching about 4.5 miles. It was given the name “horn” because the Turks often compared the shape to a deer horn. The Golden Horn divides old Istanbul from what is considered new Istanbul. The Bosporus is a channel of water that connects the Black Sea to the Mediterranean by way of the Sea of Marmara. The Bosporus Strait divides the European side of Istanbul from the Asian side. We had the opportunity to take a boat ride out on the Bosphorus Strait and got an amazing view of a few of the famous Mosques such as the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia. 

History

Istanbul was the capital of three ancient empires: Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman. Byzas, leader of the Greeks, captured the peninsula from the Thracian tribes. It fell to the Roman Republic in 196 BC and became known as Byzantium until 330 BC. Then the city became known as Constantinople, in honor of Constantine the Great who established it as the capital. It remained the official name of the city throughout the Byzantine period. The city remained under the Byzantine Empire until 1453.

Sultan Mehmed II and the Ottoman Empire captured Constantinople. The city fell after a 53-day siege. Sultan Mehmed II converted the city to be Islamic after the conquest. The Hagia Sophia became a mosque, and the city eventually became known as Istanbul. Many called the city Istinpolin instead of Constantinople. This new name came from a Greek phrase, meaning “in the city.” After centuries, the name became Istanbul. The Turkish Post Office officially changed the name in 1930. However, the name Constantinople continues to be a part of Istanbul’s rich history.

Mosques 

There are over 3,000 mosques in Istanbul of all shapes and sizes. There are a few of them that were built recently, but most of them were built during the Byzantine and Ottoman periods. For example, the biggest, most popular mosques are the Süleymaniye Mosque, built in the 16th century, and the Blue Mosque, built in the 17th century. These mosques are an important part of the culture in Istanbul. A mosque is the House of prayer in Islam.

The architecture is breathtaking. Some of the mosques have huge dome-shaped roofs, such as the Hagia Sophia. Some have tall pillars that stand over 180 feet in the air. The sights are truly magnificent. I would highly recommend walking through them and learning about these amazing historical places if you’re planning to travel through Turkey. 

In conclusion, we have had such an amazing time exploring this city. There is so much to see and learn about. Thanks for joining me on this wild ride of traveling the world through a global pandemic. Stay tuned for more adventures to come!

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Big Guy Big World is a travel blog, following Mark Jacoby’s journey as a big guy on a bigger journey, exploring the world during a global pandemic. Follow along as we experience some of the world’s most beautiful and exotic places.