When traveling through Istanbul, Turkey, one can easily be subjected to a heavy dose of sensory overload – the multitudes of noises, the vibrant colors and shapes, and the curious smells all conclude to an exhausting journey. While the entire city holds an abundance of stimulants, there is one area in particular that cohesively weaves these stimulants together to create a place of true wonder.

Interior of Rustem Pasha Mosque

This particular area lies within the ever-bustling neighborhood of Eminà­ ¶nà­ ¼, a neighborhood known for its rich history, as well as being a popular tourist destination. Don’t let that keep you from making the potentially overwhelming trek to visit the colorful and eye-popping Spice Bazaar and the tranquil and awe-inspiring Rà­ ¼stem Pasha Mosque.

The contrasts of Istanbul begin with the landscape itself – the city resides over both Europe and Asia, and it is stemmed from this original juxtaposition that a realm of contrasts was born. The culture carries a mix of antiquity vs. modernity, east vs. west, and peace vs. chaos. The particular corner of life that perfectly balances such a contrast lies tucked away in the middle of Istanbul. This hub is able to evoke completely different emotions out of its visitors, and from this Mosque and Spice Bazaar that exist in perfect harmony of one another that we are able to see what Istanbul has to offer.

Spice Bazaar

The Spice Bazaar astonishes people with its extremely wide variety of Turkish delights (those candies you were always curious about when reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe), the endless supply of dried fruits, and its countless mounds of multicolored spices.

Array of Dried Fruit

Rich in history, the covered and enclosed maze of corridors reminds its visitors of the historical past of Turkey  – the architecture evokes the late 16th century when Istanbul functioned as the last stop for camel caravans traveling the silk routes from China.

Turkish Delight

It now holds a treasure trove of tasty goodies that will evidently leave your belly full of delights and your bag filled with vibrant colors.


As the chaos of the Spice Bazaar can be taxing, the adjacent Mosque tucked away on a terrace over a complex of shops can offer a whole new set of sensations that Istanbul has to offer. An unmarked staircase leads up to a second story Rà­ ¼stem Pasha Mosque that relieves one of the bustling markets crowding below.

Exterior Rà­ ¼stem Pasha Mosque
Exterior Rà­ ¼stem Pasha Mosque

This majestic place of worship first astonishes you with a powerful force that maintains an intoxicating silence throughout the premise. However, even though the energy is calm, the beauty of this mosque stems from its intricate and aesthetically busy art. Delicately detailed tiles in various shades of blue cover the entire structure both inside and out.

Detail of Mosaics
Detail of Mosaics

Istanbul’s theme of contrast can even be seen in the meticulous décor of the building; fragments of ancient mosaics are pieced together with new tiles.

Collage of Mosaics

Even though it has been estimated that there are around 3,000 Mosques in the city of Istanbul alone, this particular one out-shines them all. The allure of the Mosque is overwhelming, the place reminds one to breathe, to think, to be still – quite the necessary place to encounter after the Spice Market.

Man Praying

Between these two extremely contrasting places, one develops a sense of the yin and yang of the city. This area is an example of such cohesive juxtaposition that makes Istanbul a unique and exciting traveling experiences to have. After experiencing such a potent and dynamic culture, it’s easier to become under-whelmed by what now seems to be a flat and homogeneous culture at home.