**SPOLIER ALERT: STOP READING IF YOU DON’T WANT ANY SPOILERS FROM DAN BROWN’S INFERNO!

I couldn’t stop turning the pages of Inferno, which is usually the case for anyone reading a Dan Brown book. Found in a book exchange, Mark read it first before passing it onto me without spoiling any of the surprises. All I knew beforehand was that it was set in Italy like two of Dan Brown’s other bestsellers.

Part way through Inferno, we were on board a flight to Istanbul from Athens. As we were flying over Istanbul I read that the main character Robert Langdon was getting into a plane to go to Istanbul too! I turned to Mark with a look of surprise and he knew that I finally got to the part about Istanbul.

Not only was it a coincidence that I read that chapter of Inferno on the plane, but also because the book I read before it, The Jolly Pilgrim by Peter Baker, referred to Istanbul as the author rides his bicycle to the city all the way from London. Both books described Istanbul as the epicenter of culture as it sits on both Europe and Asia continents.

I didn’t know much about Istanbul, but after reading these two books it helped me appreciate the city so much more during our visit. Here are four places to visit while in Istanbul that are mentioned in the books:

Europe, Travel, travel photography, Canon 5D Mark III, Photography, Istanbul, Turkey, Istanbul, Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Suleymaniye Mosque, Grand Bazaar, Galata Tower, Golden Horn, Galata, Galata Bridge, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern,

Europe, Travel, travel photography, Canon 5D Mark III, Photography, Istanbul, Turkey, Istanbul, Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Suleymaniye Mosque, Grand Bazaar, Galata Tower, Golden Horn, Galata, Galata Bridge, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern,

HAGIA SOPHIA

Hagia Sophia started as a cathedral in 537, and later converted into a mosque and now a museum. Because of these several transitions, Hagia Sophia unusually displays Christian images next to Islamic calligraphy. On the second floor we looked for Henricus Dandolo’s tomb as mentioned in Inferno. True to the description in the book of being plain, it was indeed a boring looking tomb. We also put our ears to the ground as they did in the book to see if we could hear water running, but we couldn’t hear a thing. It was still fun to give it a try.

Admission: 30 TL ($15 USD)

Europe, Travel, travel photography, Canon 5D Mark III, Photography, Istanbul, Turkey, Istanbul, Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Suleymaniye Mosque, Grand Bazaar, Galata Tower, Golden Horn, Galata, Galata Bridge, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern,

Europe, Travel, travel photography, Canon 5D Mark III, Photography, Istanbul, Turkey, Istanbul, Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Suleymaniye Mosque, Grand Bazaar, Galata Tower, Golden Horn, Galata, Galata Bridge, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern,

BASILICA CISTERN

There are many cisterns in Istanbul with only two of them open to the public including the Basilica Cistern. Mentioned in Inferno, the Basilica Cistern, also known as the Underground Palace, was built as an old underground city water system in 532. It was long forgotten centuries ago and wasn’t rediscovered until 1545. There are hundreds of beautiful marble columns throughout the cistern with two oddly placed Medusa heads at the bottom of two of the columns. One head is completely upside down while the other one is tilted on its side. It’s a mystery as to where these Medusa heads came from and why they were placed the way they are in the cistern. It is strange to be out in the street near the main sights and realize that this huge underground network lays beneath so close to it all.

Admission: 20 TL ($10 USD)

Europe, Travel, travel photography, Canon 5D Mark III, Photography, Istanbul, Turkey, Istanbul, Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Suleymaniye Mosque, Grand Bazaar, Galata Tower, Golden Horn, Galata, Galata Bridge, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern,

Europe, Travel, travel photography, Canon 5D Mark III, Photography, Istanbul, Turkey, Istanbul, Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Suleymaniye Mosque, Grand Bazaar, Galata Tower, Golden Horn, Galata, Galata Bridge, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern,

BLUE MOSQUE

Walking from Galata Tower and crossing the Galata Bridge we saw several mosques lining the waterfront making us question, is that the Blue Mosque? Or is that one the Blue Mosque? Turned out that neither of them were the legendary Blue Mosque…we had to walk further. When we made it to the right mosque, it was stunning on the outside as it faces across the way from Hagia Sophia. We waited for prayer service to end before we could enter, which happens every day, five times a day. I was given a scarf to cover my hair and took off my shoes before going inside. Actually named Sultan Ahmed Mosque, we found that the nickname of Blue Mosque came from the blue tiles adorning the interior. It was the first mosque we’d ever been in, so we were easily impressed. To top it off, as we exited we received a free copy of the Quran.

Free Admission

Europe, Travel, travel photography, Canon 5D Mark III, Photography, Istanbul, Turkey, Istanbul, Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Suleymaniye Mosque, Grand Bazaar, Galata Tower, Golden Horn, Galata, Galata Bridge, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern,

Europe, Travel, travel photography, Canon 5D Mark III, Photography, Istanbul, Turkey, Istanbul, Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Suleymaniye Mosque, Grand Bazaar, Galata Tower, Golden Horn, Galata, Galata Bridge, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern,

EUROPEAN SUNSET FROM ASIA

When else can you say that you watched the sun set in Europe while you were in Asia? Only Istanbul! We took a ferry from Eminonu on the European side to Kadikoy on the Asian side. When we arrived in Asia we made our way to the coast line and sat on the rocks watching the sunset. It was well worth the trip to a whole other continent for sunset! If you’re more adventurous, you can do as the Jolly Pilgrim does and swim across the Bosphorus Strait to get to Asia.

Cost: 4 TL ($2 USD) each way

About The Author

Britnee traveled around the world with her husband on a shoestring budget for a year. A few of her favorite destinations include Scotland's Isle of Skye, Chile's Torres del Paine, Bolivia's Salt Flats and Nepal's Annapurna Circuit.

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