After we got settled in our hotel, we jumped right into exploring Istanbul! Our first stop was the Mosque of Suleyman the Magnificent. Built for Suleyman, the Magnificent who was the 10th sultan of the Ottoman Empire. The mosque is open from 9:00 am- 5:00 pm and admission is free. Women need to cover their heads and everyone needs to remove their shoes to enter the mosque. This mosque is beautiful and grand, but in my opinion, is not as beautiful as the Blue Mosque. According to Rick Steves’ guidebook, the mausoleums of Suleyman and his wife Roxelana are located in the cemetery at the mosque, but the gate to the cemetery was locked while we were there which was disappointing.
Mosque of Suleyman the Magnificent
Near the mosque of Suleyman the Magnificent is the Grand Bazaar, which was our next stop. The Grand Bazaar is a labyrinth of small shops selling souvenirs, rugs, jewelry, etc. The Grand Bazaar is open Monday-Saturday from 9:00 am- 7:00 pm. We wandered around and went into some of the small shops to do some souvenir shopping. There were many extremely aggressive merchants, which drives me crazy, so we left after walking around for about 40 minutes without buying anything and went to the Spice Bazaar. The Spice Bazaar is open Monday-Saturday from 8:00 am-7:30 pm. I enjoyed the Spice Bazaar a lot more because it was smaller and not as intense as the Grand Bazaar. We bought some Turkish tea and Turkish delight.
Then made our way to the Turkish Bath, Suleymaniye Hamami
, which is located near the Mosque of Suleyman the Magnificant. This Turkish Bath is for couples and costs about 35 euros or 70 TL. They are open from 10:00 am-10:00 pm. We arranged the Turkish Bath through our hotel, Sokulla Pasa, and also arranged for transportation back to our hotel. The Turkish bath was so relaxing and I felt so great afterward. When we arrived, we were offered some apple tea in the sitting area and then ushered to a private changing room and provided with garments to wear. Then we were directed to a large marble room with other couples where we could poor hot water over ourselves while we wait for our attendants. Then each couple goes into chamber with their attendants where the attendants proceed to scrub us down.
After we returned to our hotel, we selected a restaurant near the hotel for dinner, Buhara 93, located near the Blue Mosque. We were seated on the roof and enjoyed some delicious kebabs, flat bread and basic Turkish food. Then we returned to our hotel to get some rest of the next day!
Flat bread at Buhara 93
Kebabs at Buhara 93