Simplemente Blanco Visits Istanbul, Turkey

Let's escape to Turkey for a moment. If you love travel + architecture, you'll enjoy this...

Fernanda Bourlot, owner/designer of simplemente blanco in Boston's South End, heard of my interest in Istanbul, so she sent me some wonderful photos from her recent vacation to Istanbul, along with a little 'story' behind each picture. Fernanda comments that Turkey was very interesting to visit because, "it has one part that belongs to Europe and the other part to Asia." She mentioned that the people were very nice and always ready to help you out whenever you were in need of something. She said that the only challenge was the language barrier - English isn't spoken except at the hotel where she stayed, so interacting with others was next to impossible. She thought that if she could have talked to the locals, she would have had an even richer experience.

Fernanda enjoyed visiting the Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii in Turkish), a prominent landmark and center of Muslim worship, from the Byzantine period, with its interior covered with tiny blue Iznik tiles (hence the name, blue mosque). It is regarded as one of the greatest masterpieces of Islamic architecture. Construction began in 1609 and was completed by 1616 by order of Sultan Ahmed I. It has a very large courtyard with ablution fountains where people wash to prepare themselves before offering up Salah (Islamic prayers) in the mosque. Boasting six minarets and cascades of domes, the mosque is sibling to Ayasofya (Hagia Sophia) just a few minutes' north.

Haghia Sophia (translated from the Greek as the Church of the Holy Wisdom of God, now known as the Ayasofya) was a former Eastern Orthodox church dedicated to the Divine Wisdom, but today serves as a museum. It's a masterpiece of Byzantine architecture with its decorated interior of mosaics and marble pillars. Built by emperor Justinian 1 over the ruins of previous churches constructed by the Greeks on the same site after the revolt 532, then was converted into a Mosque and today as a museum. Some parts of the Haghia Sophia are quite damaged since it has suffered through several earthquakes.

Has anyone reading been to Istanbul? Care to share your experience below (comments)?

I've not been, but our dear friends, Attila and Marie in Germany, went last year (he is part Turkish) and they really loved it - they highlighted one of their favorite experiences being at large family gatherings, everyone feasting outside around a large table, filling the air with conversations in Turkish, German, Italian, Spanish... And of course, great food, wine, and laughter. Doesn't that sound nice?

Thank you Fernanda for sharing these lovely photos with decor8 readers!

(photos copyright fernanda bourlot 2006)