Touch and Go in Istanbul

“If one had but a single glance to give the world, one should gaze on Istanbul”.

Alphonse de Lamartine

It was a summer of 2009 when I got the chance to visit Istanbul for a quick glance of the world۔ I was actually traveling for Prague that is one of the top 10 tourist destinations of Europe. This was my first journey abroad after my initial childhood stay in Middle East for about 6 years due to my father’s work.

I found Istanbul airport heavily crowded and so were the streets outside of airport. After getting off from airport I caught metro and dislodged at Zeytinburu to catch tram directly to Sultan Ahmet street which was my planned destination for the short stay in Istanbul. I found the traveling quite convenient despite carrying heavy luggage with myself I managed it quite easily.

As soon as I got out of tram in the Sultan Ahmet district I was approached by different agents offering hotel rooms. I did not have much option but to accept one of the offers who claimed that his hotel was very near which was actually quite far when we started walking, however, he was kind enough to help me with my luggage. He was also glad to know I am from Pakistan and reminded me how Turkish people hold high regards for Pakistanis.

I was tired but I didn’t have much time so I immediately walked out to explore famous Blue Mosque which was at walking distance. While walking through the streets I realized how Turkish society despite following Islam has been greatly influenced by European culture.

During my short stay in Istanbul, I visited Blue Mosque, famous Hagia Sophia, Topkapi palace and Spice bazaar in Eminonu. I would not elaborate much what i saw at these places as this you can easily find on web but what I want to share here are my inner feelings about visiting Istanbul.

The era of Khilafat that started from Prophet Muhammad’s companions finally ended with the demise of Ottoman Caliphate. Though effectively it ended much earlier. So my idea was to explore the signs of once superpower Ottoman Islamic Caliphate that enjoyed grand authority over the rest of the world. I found modern Turkey much revolutionized but at the same time preserving their historic monuments which are indicative of their rich history. I also felt the fact that Turks who were once fighting with the European giants over ideology were embedding the Western ideology in their societies. Overall, though the Turks have preserved the architectural wonders of their rich cultural history but seldom is felt about it from their physical presence as a society.