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How to see 3 museums and 2 masjids in Istanbul Old City in a day!

A few weeks ago, we were fortunate to have the opportunity to do some sightseeing in Istanbul, after months of staying local to home due to the pandemic.

I had a few places on my bucket list and decided to tackle them
all on 1 day as I couldn't be sure when I would get a chance like this again (given having the kids around during upcoming school holidays, various lockdown situations etc!)

(Tip: don’t recommend this itinerary  if you’re a savour the moment kinda tourist! But if you have limited time like me then this itinerary may work as you get to taste all the sites mentioned just enough to satisfy your FOMO!!) but as I live here, I do also know I could return insha Allah if I didn't finish it all, so mindset is different. Also kids didn’t join us this time so super speed was possible! 

Note: On a random weekday everywhere inside was super quiet and outside was not crowded at all therefore social distancing was always adhered to.

Destination: Sultanahmet/Sirkeci Istanbul
How to get there from Etiler: Bus to Kabatas. Change to tram - stop at Gulhane Park. (1 hour)

First stop: Archaeological Museum- we love history! Interesting to understand how early inhabitants conceptualised life and death and religion. There are also art works through the years and lots of statues. Some buildings are closed off but still worth a visit.
Duration: 1 hour.

Coffee Break at Coffs in Sirkeci. Suitable if you're in the area and in need of a coffee fix!


Museum of Science & Technology- fascinating to learn about the contributions made by muslims in this field. Our favourite (needed more time to read and digest). There are many sections. We had 45 minutes but probably 1-2 hours is better

Stroll through Gulhane Park. Must see for a break and breathe of fresh air

Dhuhr prayers and my first visit to Hagia Sophia since it has  returned asa a masjid.

The energy inside is very uplifting and strong. This incredible building has been a place of worship for 100's of years and you feel it Alhamdulillah. I wish we had more time to soak it all in.
Note: women's whudu facilities are located all the way on the opposite end at Blue Mosque currently.

Lunch stop - Kofte Ekmek at the famous Sultahahmet Kofteci across the road. It does the job but I fail to see what the big hype is except maybe its been around for a long while? We bought our takeaway and came back inside Sultanahmet square to eat it along the benches under the trees. They is now a checkpoint to enter so there are just two entrances to the complex that I saw.

Refreshed we were ready for the next visit to Masjid Sokullu Mehmet Pasha- do read up more on it as the history is interesting.

It is designed by Mimar Sinan and the most fascinating (and not that well-known) aspect is that it hosts 4 pieces of the Black Stone (Hajr Aswad from Makkah). 

It is quiet and peaceful, as in all masjid courtyards in Istanbul Subhanallah. It is closed between prayers, but we were fortunate to join another couple who managed to find a caretaker who kindly opened up for us. It's mesmerising.

Here is one of the 4 pieces of the black stone placed on top of this mimbar.  It was so exciting to witness and I am so grateful we made it there, Alhamdulillah.

Quran through the ages. So interesting to see how style changes.
Very interesting to read about what influenced Muslim rule in the world through the decades, to where Turkey is today.

There are including relics of the Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him). I cant speak to the authenticity, I myself was surprised to see it here as I only knew of Topkapi Palace that also hosted these historical significant artefacts. 

It was also of interest to learn about the clothing that changed through the years. You should spend 1-2 hours at this museum to do it justice.

Ice Cream stop before we headed back home. We ended our whirlwind tour at 3:30pm.

Exhausted, but exhilarated!

Tip: Museum Pass card got me FREE entry to all places. 

Other tips: Be prepared to walk. We hit 10 000 steps just at midday, to give you an example. Dress comfy, carry a light back pack with you. Bottled water is available and cheap. Use toilets at museums. 

Have you been to these places - which is your favourite site?  Which one makes it to your must checkout on your next trip? 

The Organised Traveler


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