Take a Turkish Bath in Istanbul

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Flag of Turkey  , Istanbul,
Tuesday, June 29, 2010

   You haven't lived until you have visited Turkey, where east meets west, and spent some time in the old part of Istanbul. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was the largest and wealthiest city in Europe.  It was also the imperial capital of the Roman Empire, the Byzantine/Eastern Roman, the Latin Empire and the Ottoman Empire.  In 1930, as part of President Mustafa Atatürk's reforms, the name was changed to the Turkish name Istanbul.
     Most tourists stay in the old walled part of the city to best experience the history and culture that one of the world's oldest cities has to offer.  During your visit be sure to visit the Blue Mosque, the Haige Sophia, the Harem, Topkapi Palace, the Spice Market and Grand Bazaar and most definitely a Turkish Bathhouse.

The Blue Mosque

     The Sultan Ahmed Mosque, better known as the Blue Mosque, is the national mosque of Turkey.  Built during the rule of Ahmed I between 1609 and 1616 and containing the tomb of its founder, the Blue Mosque got its nickname from the blue hand painted tiles lining the interior.  Separated into three sections, the women pray in an area at the back, the tourists are free to roam through the middle and the men pray in the elaborate area at the front.

The Hagia Sophia

    Across from the Blue Mosque is the Hagia Sophia which means divine wisdom in Greek.  It was an Orthodox cathedral that was built in 360 then transformed into a mosque in 1453.  For one thousand years it was the largest cathedral in the world until the completion of the Seville Cathedral in Spain in 1520.  In 1934, it was turned into a museum and remains a popular tourist attraction.  

Harem at Topkapi Palace

    Topkapi Palace was the former residence for the Sultans of the Ottoman Empire from 1463 to 1853 and has since been transformed into a huge museum.  For an extra fee on top of admission you can visit the Imperial Harem – the private apartments of the Sultan, his mother, his concubines and his wives and children.  
    Concubines were beautiful intelligent young women from affluent families in neighboring countries brought into the Harem at a tender age where they were groomed to be potential wives of the sultan. As they grew up they could work their way up in the Harem to become kalfas or ustas and if they shared a bed with the Sultan they could achieve the ranks of Gözde (the Lucky), Ikbal (the Favorite) or one of four Kadın (the Wife) as  Muslim law permits a man to have four wives.

Spice Market and Grand Bazaar

     The Spice Market, completed in 1660, is part of the Yeni Mosque and was initially constructed so that rent from the shops could help pay for the upkeep of the mosque.  The L-shaped building consisting of 88 vaulted rooms is the second largest covered shopping complex in the city next to the Grand Bazaar and is the center for spice trade in Istanbul.
    The Grand Bazaar, also known as the Grand Souq, is one of the world’s largest covered markets boasting over 58 streets and 4000 shops and selling everything from jewellery, pottery and carpets to leather coats, spice and sweets.  The market, which sees between 250,000 to 400,000 visitors everyday, is much easier to find your way into than out of.  Once you enter the maze of shops with no clearly marked exits, you get lost in the abyss. 

Turkish Bathouse

    Your visit to Istanbul would not be complete without a visit to one of the many historic co-ed, male only or female only bathhouses.  After a steamy sweat on a marble slab, you will be bathed and massaged by a bath attendant. Afterwards you may want to enjoy a swim in the pool or a soak in the sauna then relax in the lobby and drink a cup of Turkish tea.


Check out my Istanbul Video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPWoLTMOMUg&feature=channel_video_title

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