I made three trips to Istanbul, Turkey, in my life (1999, 2001, and 2002). My first trip to Istanbul was just an overnighter. I was flying back to Seattle, Washington, from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. I had to spend one night in Istanbul to catch a connecting flight. My next trip in 2001 was with a Turkish friend. We visited Istanbul during our school break for about 3 weeks. My last trip was during the summer of 2002. I spent the entire summer there spending one week work with the Education Volunteers Foundation of Turkey. I love Istanbul because of it’s strong Islamic and Byzantium influence on the city. Sadly, I never took any pictures of the Golden Gates of Constantinople. My friend and I took it for granted since we walked through the gates everyday to catch a bus.
Let me start with my favorite mosque (camii in Turkish or masjid in Arabic), the Fatih Camii. This was actually the first Turkish mosque I visited in 1999 during Ramadan. It is located in the religious Fatih district. All the below pictures were taken in December, 1999, about 4 hours before my flight to the US departed from Ataturk International Airport. What was memorable about this short stay was that it was the first time I was in a country where the mosques sounded the “Call of the Prayer”. Not knowing about this, I unwisely kept my windows open at night. Something I regreted at sunrise.
Some more views of the Fatih Camii with some markets that are located at the western entrance of the mosque
Ayasofya (Hagia Sophia)
Fatih Camii may be my favorite place in Istanbul, but in 1999, the first place I visited was the Ayasofya (Hagia Sophia). I remember reading about this church when I was in college. It was an amazing view when I first saw it. I was never able to get any good pictures since the weather did not cooperate until my 2002 trip to Istanbul. I got some amazing views. Sadly, I never visited the museums since there were too many tourists.
Sultanahmet (Blue Mosque)
Just directly across the Ayasofya (Hagia Sophia) is the Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet). This is a very beautiful mosque and my favorite after the Fatih Camii. I also visited this mosque during each of my visits to Istanbul. One thing that frustrated me about this mosque is that the tourists did not seem to realize that this was a religious site. I took these pictures also in the summer of 2002.
Eyup Sultan Camii
A very important religious place for Turkish Muslims is the Eyup Sultan Camii. This is where Eyup, who was the standard bearer for the Prophet Muhammed, was buried. Eyup had been ordered by Muhammed to take Constantinople but failed. He died and his body was not found until the Ottomans conquered Constantinople in 1452. The Ottoman Turks have since built a mausoleum for Eyup and a grand mosque. Many Turkish Muslims make a pilgrimage to Eyup and say a prayer for him. Also located next to Eyup’s gravesite is a small glass case containing the footprint of the Prophet Muhammed. Below are pictures of Eyup’s Mausoleum.
Here is the footprint of the Prophet Muhammed.
The Beyezit Camii is another beautiful mosque in Istanbul. It is located next to Istanbul University and not far from the Grand Bazaar.
I tended to avoid the Suleymaniye Camii due to the amount of tourists that visited this mosque. It is really pretty and I regretted not visiting it sooner. Plus, it was rather close to where I lived which surprised me. I took these pictures in 2002 when fellow grad. student Kevin Kalb visited me in Istanbul.
Fatih University has been shutdown since 2016.
The last place I really enjoyed visiting in Istanbul was Fatih University. I came into contact with Fatih University through a friend of mine, Salim Ayduz. He stayed with me for a month while he was visiting Indiana University. In December, 2001, I actually got to visit Fatih University on several occasions. The first trip there was quite funny. I had missed my flight in Paris so I arrived into Istanbul rather late. I forgot to grab my friend’s telephone number so I had no way to contact him. So instead, I decided to take a taxi to Fatih University to find Salim. I lucked out, he was there. I was given the grand tour of Fatih University and even attended a couple classes while there. It is a really nice college and one of the best in Turkey. Here are some of my pictures from Fatih University.