This gorgeous tile work is inside the Topkapi Palace, the residence and governing hub of the Ottoman Empire from the middle 15th century until the Empire’s demise in the early 19th century. The palace sprawls along the waterfront of a peninsula in the heart of the city once known as Constantinople.1924, Topkapi Palace became a museum open to the public and is among the most visited sites in our mystery country.


Can you name that country? 
See below for answers.

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Istanbul, a wee bit off the beaten path

Basilica Cistern

One of my favorite places in Istanbul is the Byzantine Church of the Holy Savior in Chora, also known as the Kariye Camii or the Chora Museum. The surviving structure is mostly from the 11th century, but when the original church was built on this site in the 4th century, it was outside the city walls. Chora means country in ancient Greek. It’s a relatively small church and although pleasant enough, there’s nothing outstanding about the architecture. The real reason to visit is to see the 14th-century mosaics and frescos that cover the interior walls. Continue reading

Istanbul Highlights #2

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul

the Grand Bazaar – If you’re a serious shopper, you need a full day or two here and a guide or a map and a compass. For most of us, a few hours is more than enough. One of the oldest and largest traditional covered markets, there are more than 4,000 shops on over 60 streets and they are not laid out on a grid, much. As long as you have an ultimate exit plan and plenty of time, it’s a wondrous place to get lost in. Just about everything you can think of is for sale here, but leather, gold and silver jewelry, ceramics, textiles and carpets are good buys in Turkey. Shops selling similar items are grouped together. Merchants in the Grand Bazaar can be quite aggressive. If you’re shopping for a big ticket item, you should go in with some knowledge about quality, firm resolve and a sense of humor. Continue reading

Istanbul Not Constantinople


We really wish the Turkish Tourist Office would market their country more aggressively in the United States. It seems few Americans know what it has to offer.

Although it’s a Muslim country and mostly in Asia (a small part of the country is in Europe), modern Turkey really has much more in common with Europe than with its other neighbors. Continue reading