Sunday Special – Blue Mosque, Istanbul

Istanbul is an amazing city in my opinion. In fact, only Paris surpasses it as my favourite. I spent a mere four days there in 2015 however it has imprinted upon me a lasting impression of beauty and history.  Although there are numerous mosques in this city of nearly 15 million the Sultan Ahmet Mosque, or the “Blue Mosque” as it is commonly referred to by tourists, is the most well-known and recognized. Taking eight years to build (1609 – 1616 C.E.) by order of Sultan Ahmed I, it has five large domes and six minarets along with several smaller domes. Within its walls are thousands upon thousands of blue Iznik tiles which why it is referred to as ‘The Blue Mosque’. To this day it continues to serve as a mosque, allowing Muslims to come to prayer five times per day. At these times the mosque is closed to tourists and non-Muslims.  As this is a popular attraction do expect queues during visiting times. I recall long lines yet they moved quickly.  I was glad to know that I could take non-flash photos in this stunning example of Ottoman architecture. It really was fascinating to see. I look forward to when I return to the Blue Mosque and Istanbul with my sister at some point in the future.

All photos taken and owned by Eeva Valiharju / Wanders The World

Istanbul’s Blue Mosque

Within the mosque’s courtyard

The beautiful interior

Sunday Special – Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Situated along the beautiful Neretva River lies Mostar, a city of cultural importance to the southern region of the Herzegovina area. Despite being one of the most heavily bombed cities in Bosnia during the Croate-Bozniak War, following the breakup of Yugoslavia, it has rebounded by rebuilding much of what was damaged. Today it is a popular destination for travellers (summer and fall mainly) and is said to have a festive and spirited vibe.

Among the most well-known and well-loved landmarks in Mostar is the Stari Most (The Old Bridge). In 1993 huge sections of it fell into the river during the war. Easily considered the heart of the city this 16th century Ottoman bridge was restored years later. Portions of it were even retrieved from the bottom of the Neretva. It is the pinnacle of the river and the pride of the city. It also is where Mostar Diving Club members gracefully dive 24 m/78.9 ft into the Neretva’s chilly 12C/53.6F waters.

Mostar’s Old Town is another popular area of the city. Admist the Medieval Ottoman style architecture that is prevalent you can find some pretty mosques and houses, such as the The Koski Mehmed pasa Mosque and The Biscevica House. And for something completely different and random, there is a Bruce Lee statue in the city as well.


Stari Most (The Old Bridge) in Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned by Mark Ahsmann


Interior of Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque, Mostar – Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons – Photo taken and owned by Stephen Hense

Sunday Special – The Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia

On the edge of the Baltic Sea in European Russia is the country’s second largest city – Saint Petersburg – overflowing with history and stunning architecture. So much that many consider it one of the most beautiful cities in the world. UNESCO has named it a World Heritage Site. Among the city’s greatest building is The Winter Palace. Built in a Baroque style, this lavish and monumental building aimed to show the greatness of the Russian Empire. Originally a wooden building, it was constructed for Peter the Great and his family in 1708 CE. In the years to follow the building was rebuilt with stone and additions eventually added to it. It had been the home of Tsars for centuries, filled with gilded facades, opulent living quarters, numerous salons and used for many state gatherings and formal galas. The Romanovs occupied this palatial residence since Catherine The Great to the the time of the family’s fall in the 1900s. A history too long for me to even touch on, this magnificent building is now officially part of The Hermitage Museum. Restorations to the rooms and artifacts now showcase Russian history and countless works of art.


Interior of church within The Winter Palace, Saint Petersburg – Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons – Photo taken and owned by Januarius-zick


Entrance to The Winter Palace, Saint Petersburg, Russia – Photo is Public Domain


Today is the final installment of “Sunday’s Special Spot”. I hope you have enjoyed the snippets provided and that it has stirred up a longing to see the world yourself. As an old proverb rings true, It is better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times, I am taking that to heart. Time to step forward on a new adventure and I hope that you find yours as well. 

It is fitting that this final post is of La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain – one of my stops on my European leg. This yet unfinished basilica was Antonio Gaudi’s life’s focus. He worked on it from 1883 (construction began a year prior) until his death in 1926. Taking on a mix of styles such as late Gothic and Art Nouveau, some have speculated that it may be completed in 2026 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s passing. Others estimate both sooner and later time frames. Despite its completion it is unique and fascinating architecture.

Sagrada Familia facade

La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain

Photo credit – Wikimedia Commons – Public Domain (as granted by Mok9 – own work)

Interior columns, La Sagrada Familia

Interior columns, La Sagrada Familia

Photo credit – Wikimedia Commons – Public Domain (as granted by user Hgoerz – own work)