How can one not go sightseeing when in Istanbul? The incredible history that oozes through the streets is almost intoxicating. If you were to close your eyes in some places, you'd almost be back in time.
I've read a whole bunch of books by Elif Shafak, starting with The Architect's Apprentice, which have got me hooked on Istanbul, it's Sultans and its master Architect - Sinan, who was responsible for building more than 300 major monuments in his time, from schools, to bath houses, bridges, public kitchens, mosques and of course the Süleymaniye Complex.
We decided to tackle the big guys - the Hagia Sophia and the Sultanahmet Mosque (also known as the Blue Mosque), as well as the Bazaars as best we could.
The Hagia Sophia is one of the oldest buildings in the city, and was once a church that has been converted into a mosque and is now a museum and major tourist attraction. The current building is the third church that has been built on that site. Both churches that stood there before this one were burnt down, one in approximately 404, and the other in 532. The construction of the third Hagia Sophia began only a few weeks after the old church burnt down. Parts of the massive church show the original paintings and absolutely stunning intricate mosaic from that time.