Turkish Mosaic Tiles (Çini) of the Topkapı Palace


Situated on top of the most visible hill of Istanbul, Topkapı Palace is one of the symbols of the city. It was built in 1461 by the Ottoman sultan Mehmet II, who conquered Constantinople and named it “Istanbul” in 1453. For more than four centuries the Topkapı Palace was administrative center of the Ottoman Empire as well as private house of the Ottoman imperial family. The palace was home to twenty two different Ottoman sultans and their families; as a consequence, the palatial complex expanded throughout its history with additional structures. Since 1924, the Topkapı Palace is functioning as a museum and it is the most visited museum in Turkey. Although the palace expanded sultan by sultan and family by family, there was one decorative element that remained unchanged and everyone followed: Turkish mosaic tiles (çini) decorating the walls. Our knowledge regarding the Turkish mosaic tiles of the Topkapı Palace is much less compared to its history and architecture, nevertheless this post attempts to give a background information regarding the Turkish mosaic tiles (çini) of the Topkapı Palace.

Top Romantic Spots in and Around Istanbul


Summer, winter, spring or autumn, Istanbul is beautiful year-round whether it’s under a blazing sun or three meters of snow. So, when love is on the mind this Valentine’s Day, do not be surprised when the city manages to exude more charm than usual. The otherwise grey February streets of Istanbul suddenly become a foggy reminder of romantic pasts. The rushing feeling of people hurrying along Istiklal Street seems tenderer; couples huddle together, bundled shoulder-to-shoulder. While beautiful, the city is just the beginning for any romantic.

Whether you are just visiting Istanbul or you are a permanent resident, consider yourself lucky to be windswept in one of the most enchanting cities in the world – if you know where to go.

4 Hiking Trails Near Istanbul


Geographically, Istanbul is a very unique city. It’s divided by a natural strait, the Bosphorus, it also borders two different seas, the Marmara Sea and the Black Sea, and its land connects two different continents, Europe and Asia. And, with a population of approximately 20 million, Istanbul is one of the most populated cities. Thus, it can be challenging to live in Istanbul and be closer to nature. Indeed, the spaces for long trekking and hiking routes are limited. In this post we’ll introduce you to four hiking trails near Istanbul. They are no more than two hours away by car and perfect for a real hiking experience.

A Brief List of Istanbul Recommendations


Not only is Istanbul big, but it’s also very old. Even from an early Ottoman period could the city boast high numbers of engaged tourists traveling through. With so many sights to see, foods to eat, and drinks to drink, it’s a wonder why so many Istanbul enthusiasts and locals alike recommend the same activities. Hoping to break this cycle, here are the latest non-touristy or local recommendations from Istanbul Tour Studio.

Grand Admiral Mosques in Istanbul built by Mimar Sinan


Mimar Sinan (1489-1588) -without doubt- was the most important Ottoman architect. In the sixteenth century he built or supervised hundreds of structures in every corner of the Ottoman Empire including mosque complexes, hamams (Turkish bath), bridges, hospitals, madrasas (religious high school), tombs, and many others. Patrons of these structures were either imperial family members or high-ranking officials such as Grand Vizier, Harem Agha, Shaykh al-Islam (Sunni Islam Religious Leader), and Kaptan-ı Derya (Grand Admiral). Among Sinan’s works in Istanbul, there are two mosque complexes (külliye) commissioned by two different Kaptan-ı Derya (Grand Admiral): Sinan Paşa Mosque and Kılıç Ali Paşa Mosque.

Summer Palace of the Byzantine Emperors: Boukoleon Palace


Boukoleon Palace (Bucoleon Palace) was the summer palace of the Byzantine emperors, which was built along the shores of the Marmara Sea in the south of the Great Palace of Constantinople. It is very probable that it was built during the reign of Emperor Theodosius II (r. 408 – 450 AD) in the 5th century AD and its monumental façade still stands for more than fifteen centuries.

Center of Byzantine Istanbul: Hippodrome of Constantinople

Onufrio Panavinio's drawing of the Hippodrome of Constantinople (c. 1600)

Hippodrome of Constantinople was built for chariot racing, which was the most important sports of the Byzantines. Nevertheless, it was more than a place for chariot races and other sports activities. Located in Sultanahmet/Istanbul, the hippodrome was also home to gladiatorial games, official ceremonies, celebrations, protests, torture to the convicts and so on. The word “hippodrome” comes from the Greek hippos (horse) and dromos (way). Hippodrome functioned all in Roman (203-330 CE), Byzantine (330-1453 CE), and Ottoman (1453-1922) periods.