There's Always Something New in Istanbul

The tulip carpet in Sultanahmet

It was lovely to host old friends, Margaret and Harry, in Istanbul recently. They were with us for such a short time, but we managed to race around and savour many of the iconic sights of this extraordinary city.

The first amazing sight was the tulip carpet, right outside the Hagia Sophia. 543,000 tulips were organised to replicate an Ottoman design. How fortunate we were there at that moment, as the carpet can only be seen for a short time during the annual tulip festival. This year, the carpet was only on view from April 18 to May 3.

Our next lucky break came when we visited the Topkapi Palace and found newly opened sections in the Harem. By the entrance, there are stairs leading down to the dormitory which housed the "Halberdiers with Tresses". These were guards, carrying halberds (axes mounted on the end of large spears). The "tresses" were two long curls hanging down either side of the face.

Two Halberdiers relaxing smoking their pipes in the Halberdiers' dormitory...

...and tending the barbecue?

Other newly opened sections in the Harem, are the Imperial Hall and Music Room.

Margaret taking photos of the beautiful Imperial Hall

The large-domed Imperial Hall in the Harem, is where ceremonies and receptions were held

Even the floors are exquisitely laid out in the Harem

Here, Harry stopped to check out his guide book, there is so much
to assimilate as you walk around this historic building

This was our view, as we looked out from the terraces of the Topkapi Palace

The newly restored kitchens also have extra added areas.

I previously complained that the kitchens didn't show how they cooked in Ottoman times.
Someone must have been listening!

...and here are cooking utensils.

This all goes to show, that no matter how much you think you know a place, it is worth going back to see if anything else has been changed since your last visit.

Of course, we did the Bosphorus cruise...

...all the way to Yoros Castle at Anadolu Kavagi

...and met up with friends on Buyukada, one of the Princes Islands.

I love taking friends around this wonderful city of Istanbul, There is always something new to discover.

Elizabeth Coughlan

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