Istanbul Impressions

November 19, 2010

Ready to travel with me to Istanbul, Turkey? First, you may want to brush up on the history of the city which is quite fascinating because everything that you see below won’t make much of an impact unless you do. This is the case for me anyway, just knowing something about the patterns, colors, architecture, people, history — it makes everything really come together and gives greater meaning…

Istanbul Impressions

Having some knowledge of textiles is also helpful when you visit a city like Istanbul — personally as I visited various shops I felt that even my limited knowledge came in super helpful. If there is any travel tip I can give you that I could call the greatest travel tip of all it is to either learn about the history of a city, it’s people, it’s crafts, etc. before landing on new shores or immediately hire a recommended guide and let them educate you when you arrive or else you can really lose the essence and for me, there is just no point in leaving your homeland to simply fly somewhere to shop and eat and leave with bags full of pretty stuff that you have no real clue about. I know, I’ve done this before! Learning about the culture makes even the food and the shopping better, there is this foundation laid for then layering your experiences — the foundation is undeniably the most important to have in my opinion.

So let me begin by showing you some beautiful imagery and then I’ll pull together another post tomorrow taking you to some gorgeous shops, at least a few, so you can see a few places that really inspired me (and emptied my wallet!)…

Istanbul Impressions

I was really intrigued by these Ottoman-style miniature paintings, they are painted onto vintage book pages, and were quite colorful and beautiful. I bought a few of them, I’ll show you maybe tomorrow. I’d love for you to see them. I also found some gorgeous shops loaded with sumptuous Turkish towels for the bath, hands, kitchen, every shape and texture and pattern… Gorgeous Suzani pillows were in many shops and quite inexpensive when compared to the prices you’d find them selling for in Europe or America. I bought two pillows and they’re quite lovely, mine were made from vintage Uzbekistan Suzani textiles and quite gorgeous. If you like them, you can see more here and also buy them online at this shop.

Istanbul Impressions

These bowls are from my personal collection, I’ve had them for awhile but I wanted to show them to you again in the photo above since they are quite pretty and you can find them everywhere in Istanbul.

Istanbul Impressions

I was fortunate in that I did do some light research before I left but I also have a friend who is Turkish, her name is Esra Celik, and she was kind enough to plan our adventure so that I was able to see some landmarks but also discover some of the nooks that I longed to find along the way. Having a friend to guide you certainly is a luxury because they not only know your taste well enough to take you to places that you’ll actually like, but they are fun to simply be with! Plus, Esra speaks fluent Turkish so whenever we ran into a language barrier, she started speaking Turkish and everything was fine. Plus, she’s just so sweet and cute and very, very generous and open-minded — the best things you could desire in a travel partner. It was a great time!

Here are some more impressions from Istanbul — of course these are just snippets so if you want to see full size images and more impressions feel free to visit this folder on Flickr that I’ve set up specifically to share with you. I hope that you enjoy it!

Istanbul Impressions

Istanbul Impressions

Istanbul Impressions

Istanbul Impressions

Istanbul Impressions

Istanbul Impressions

Lots of the photos above where taken in the Sultanahmet (Hippodrome) district of the city, the historical area where the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque are located — and where we also happened to stay. In fact, the roof dining area of our hotel overlooked the Blue Mosque – it was such a pretty view of the mosque and the sea with fresh salty air, seagulls, and gorgeous fog in the morning over the city (and late at night) which I loved so much… The room shots above were taken in the gorgeous Topkapi Palace – an Istanbul “must see” attraction. Sadly, the palace kitchens were closed for renovations so we missed them but we saw the rest of the palace, including the Harem, and it was just lovely.

I hope you enjoyed these tiny glimpses into my vacation. Tomorrow I’ll share with you more lovely images and some fantastic shops that you simply must visit while in this gorgeous city by the sea.

(images: holly becker for decor8)

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  • Reply aphrochic November 19, 2010 at 12:11 am

    Holly, the whole experience looks amazing. I love how you bring all of us along for the ride. This is one more place I have to add to my list of dream vacations.

  • Reply April-Living the Sweet Life November 19, 2010 at 12:21 am

    The bowls are amazing. What a treasure to have them.

  • Reply Andreia November 19, 2010 at 12:24 am

    I’ve never been there…I loved this ‘virtual trip’. Beautiful photos!

  • Reply fancylinda November 19, 2010 at 12:27 am

    Beautiful photos! I want to go to Istanbul now!

  • Reply Brooke H November 19, 2010 at 12:37 am

    Wow. I’m so jealous! Looks amazing. . .Years ago NY Magazine had an issue titled the New Yorkers Guide to the World. In it, you took a quiz to find out what kind of NYer you are. I, of corse, was a shopper. And they said the number one place in the world for a shopper is Turkey. Ever since its been on my wish list.

  • Reply Zee November 19, 2010 at 12:42 am

    I am loving all the posts lately, your blog is bursting with colors. So beautiful!
    These bowls are to die for, they are so whimsical. They remind me of the talaveras from Mexico, but with more details, I think. Gorgeous images, thanks for sharing with us.

  • Reply Rebekah November 19, 2010 at 1:06 am


  • Reply Gail Jacobson November 19, 2010 at 1:21 am

    The images are luscious. So opposite of what my clients want in the midwest. I love the graphic patterns coupled with the rich colors. They are a feast. Thank you!

  • Reply Desha November 19, 2010 at 1:56 am

    that’s it. I am going to Istanbul. I wish you would offer a trip there because I would find a way to make it happen. gorgeous pics and nice commentary on getting to know the culture along the way. much appreciated.

    • Reply decor8 November 19, 2010 at 1:05 pm

      @Desha – I was asked to do a trip to Istanbul by Angela at Ace Camps — she organized the one that I did to Morocco — so I’m still considering it as a possibly but not this year, most likely next if I do it at all.

  • Reply Jana LU November 19, 2010 at 2:03 am

    thanks for sharing these beautiful photos!! Holly.
    I wish I’d be there someday.

    • Reply decor8 November 19, 2010 at 1:04 pm

      @Heather – I brought an empty suitcase with me! :) And my husband carried his rug in his backpack on the way home and I put my rug in the spare suitcase. It all worked out perfectly and we didn’t even have to pay for extra weight, we came in just at the weight limit. Yay for that!!!

  • Reply heather November 19, 2010 at 2:22 am

    Looks like one should travel to Turkey with a couple of empty suitcases….love the textiles!

  • Reply melissa November 19, 2010 at 2:26 am

    drooling over here… Morocco and Turkey in a month… lucky lady!
    I have those bowls too… i love them!
    Thanks for sharing :)

    • Reply decor8 November 19, 2010 at 1:03 pm

      @Melissa – I know, pretty amazing to live in Germany and be so close to these places as living in Boston I would have had to do some major planning (and spending) in order to do these trips.

  • Reply Erin - The Smallest Sparrow November 19, 2010 at 2:41 am

    Wow! Those colors are AMAZING!!! Seems like Istanbul is the perfect destination for a color freak like myself. I would go absolutely crazy over all of the pottery. I’ll be putting that corner of the world on my “to travel” list. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply the fabled needle (jen) November 19, 2010 at 2:43 am

    wow holly, i love the use of color and pattern. what a beautiful place. :)

  • Reply Vicki November 19, 2010 at 2:43 am

    Beautiful. The textiles are amazing. What an incredible trip.

  • Reply barbG November 19, 2010 at 2:44 am

    I have been reading your blog for a long time and decided to comment today on this visual feast on Instanbul (love that cat)–
    great job, keep up the good work. Can any of the other items be
    purchased online, dishes, etc.

  • Reply Ingrid November 19, 2010 at 2:46 am

    awesome!!! everything is so colorful!

  • Reply Jen smith November 19, 2010 at 2:55 am

    Love the pictures….and all the bright colors… all reminds me of anthropologie…..


  • Reply Heather November 19, 2010 at 3:22 am

    Thank you for sharing with us Holly. For someone like me who has never travelled much abroad, but would desire to do so someday, this review gives me a glimpse into a new world beyond my own. Thank you for your insight. So great you had such a fabulous guide. I hope we can hear more about the cuisine you tried!!

  • Reply Heather November 19, 2010 at 3:24 am

    So beautiful! I can’t wait to go! Whenever I think of the country, turquoise is the first color that captures my mind. They must have very colorful homes!

  • Reply Krista Nye Schwartz November 19, 2010 at 4:13 am

    Holly, I’m living vicariously through your travels. These images are incredible. The first photo of the textiles in that bazaar is so rich and vibrant….and I adore the little bowls. They are so cute! Can’t wait to see what comes tomorrow.

  • Reply Alison Gibbs November 19, 2010 at 4:33 am

    Amazing the colours are just fabulous

  • Reply Lindsey November 19, 2010 at 4:39 am

    LOVE all the awesome patterns. I kind of have a rule of not decorating with styles of a country I’ve never traveled to…not sure if that’s crazy or not. But all these photos make me want to add Turkey to the top of my travel list!

  • Reply Maria November 19, 2010 at 4:56 am

    Oh you’ve brought back some wonderful memories for me! I visited Istanbul about 7 years ago – as part of a 3 week trip to Turkey. I loved it. So much colour and life, it’s hard not to walk away with an impression. I love the Suzani textile – how will you use yours? As a bed spread/throw as per the picture in the link? x

  • Reply Manette November 19, 2010 at 6:25 am

    Wow, I am not sure what part of this Istanbul piece I love the most. The tile , the bowls or the textiles. Thanks so much for sharing your travel story and pictures, it makes me want to go.

  • Reply Catherine Bayar November 19, 2010 at 6:46 am

    Beautiful post about Sultanahmet – thank you. Your advice of learning about a city before visiting is priceless. I’ve lived in Turkey more than a decade and still have so much to discover and understand. Visitors do themselves a real disservice not to uncover the layers of history and culture just Istanbul alone has to offer. Looking forward to more!

  • Reply Tereza November 19, 2010 at 7:01 am

    Amazing colors, and patterns! What fun it would be to decorate with all these treasures

  • Reply Brandie November 19, 2010 at 7:11 am

    It’s so fun to see this post as I am in Istanbul right now! I’m really looking forward to your next post as Saturday will bet last opportunity to check out local boutiques.

  • Reply FwickeD November 19, 2010 at 8:32 am

    Very very nice!!! this is so amazing.
    i fall in love there bowls!!

  • Reply Laura November 19, 2010 at 8:44 am

    Beautiful photos Holly! Istanbul is now on my list of places to visit! Xx

  • Reply Leonie November 19, 2010 at 9:37 am

    Dear Holly,

    I was looking forward to reading about your adventure in Istanbul so much and you surely did not dissapoint! It looks like you had a great time and as always, your photos are just gorgeous!
    Thank you very much + looking forward to your next post!

  • Reply flowing moments November 19, 2010 at 9:39 am

    i really like what you are saying about making the effort of knowing a place before or while traveling, the multi-layered context of a place adds depth and interest and open doors of perception … i find also that through the interest of the art(s) or crafts / culture of a country you can gain knowledge to its history (past and contemporary), its geography, politics, ethnology, etc. love the tiles and those cushions are so gorgeous, it would have been hard to choose !

  • Reply sandra lund November 19, 2010 at 10:07 am

    Oh my, beautiful pictures. I really want to go to Istanbul, I’ve been to Turkey before, but I wish to go to Istanbul to see the exiting meeting of east and west. Thanks for sharing these pictures, I showed them to my boyfriend, and he agreed that we had to go look for plane tickets for Istanbul next summer :-)

  • Reply Katie - Coco Målé November 19, 2010 at 10:38 am

    It’s so hard to leave Istanbul without buying anything… Not only do they have gorgeous accessories for the home but they’re also some of the best salespeople I’ve ever met!! They really know their stuff and somehow they manage to convince you that you really NEED something, but without being too pushy… We left one shop with a rug which we had no intention of buying!!!

  • Reply stephanie November 19, 2010 at 10:49 am

    This looks gorgeous Holly! Oh how you make me want to go to Istanbul. Just amazing. Thanks for sharing :)

  • Reply ana November 19, 2010 at 11:20 am

    You’re so right about getting information before you go abroad. I always do that & the trip is always because I that previous research.

    I’ve never been in Turquey, but I’ve a “super fabulous gorgeous” cotton scarf from Istanbul, that they gave to my mother when she visited it. I wear it a lot in the summer.

  • Reply Stylissimo November 19, 2010 at 11:34 am

    Wow! Everything looks simply amazing.

  • Reply lauren November 19, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    wowzers, these are such beautiful shots, you should be so proud of them!
    I’m envious of your amazing photography skills x x

  • Reply reportero de lluvia November 19, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    woww!! great!!
    see you!

  • Reply euphoric November 19, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    wellcome to ?stanbul :)

  • Reply euphoric November 19, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    wellcome to ?stanbul :)

  • Reply Space by Eliana Tomas November 19, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    I was planning to go to Istambul end of this month, but had cancel the trip.
    You have such amazing shots here. It gives me even more ideas to make sure this is going to be one of my next trips.

  • Reply nino November 19, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    Istanbul is an amazing city full of all the colors of the world

  • Reply Patricia Torres November 19, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    Oh my gosh.. what a lovely post!! I’ve been to Istanbul 10 years ago.. and was absolutely in love with the place.. We went during the winter months.. and it wasnt as bright and pretty as this.. Yet.. I just did not want to come back.. the history.. the gorgeousness, and the shopping.. kept me going.. :-)

  • Reply Libby James November 19, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    WOW! The beautiful bold colors. The intricate patterns and terrific textures. Just GORGEOUS! I’d love to visit Istanbul, now after seeing how lovely it is. Although, I’m not sure I have a suitcase big enough to carry all of the items I’d love to bring back with me :) !! Thanks for opening my eyes to the beauty that is Istanbul.

  • Reply arzu November 19, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    I am from Istanbul but live in New York for a while. Your fotos are great.I realized that I miss Istanbul.

  • Reply Judit Gueth November 19, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    Gorgeous ceramics and tiles! Nice photos Holly! Have a great time in Istanbul!

  • Reply Melissa de la Fuente November 19, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    Just incredible….be still my beating heart! So glad you had such a great time hun! Beautiful…

  • Reply Melissa Allam November 19, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    Just like Morroco, all the colors, textiles and intricate details are so beautiful. I agree with you. Knowing about the place you are going and the history, really makes the things that you buy have more meaning, plus it makes the vacation more meaningful as well. It was like that for me when I went to Israel.

  • Reply PriscilaPetersDecor November 19, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    This post makes me smile. Colors, patterns, cat, chandeliers…. everything here is stunning!

  • Reply Rick @Home Accents | Garden Accents November 19, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    Usually Paula Jo reads your blog and leaves the comments but today I, her hubby would like to leave a note.
    Years ago, while living in Germany and before I moved to Texas I have traveled a lot, clear across Europe, North Africa and the US.
    One of the most fascinating destinations I ever have visited was Istanbul.
    The Topkapi Palace but also the Blue Mosque are a must see!
    Which other city in this world stretches over two continents? You can jump from Europe to Asia and back within a very short time.
    it has been several years and I bet a lot has changed in Istanbul since that time but by looking at those pictures, the small stores and the bazaar are still as pretty as ever. It is a world of it’s own, a different but also an amazing and fascinating world.
    If someone ever gets the chance to travel to Turkey or especially to Istanbul so I only can recommend to do so. The people there are very friendly and treat guests with a huge respect and will make you feel as welcome as possible.
    Thank you for this great post, Holly. I’m glad Paula Jo showed it to me. It brings back so many great memories in me.

  • Reply laura trevey November 19, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    I love all the bright and colorful bowls… I can never have enough!!

  • Reply vee November 20, 2010 at 2:27 am

    this is so beautiful! i love patterns and the rich colors! so pretty <3

  • Reply Rachel Biel November 20, 2010 at 3:21 am

    Wow! Gorgeous post! If you do make it to Istanbul and are looking for textiles, I recommend:


    Wish I could make it there someday!

  • Reply This Time Now November 20, 2010 at 3:29 am

    Beautiful post and thank you for inspiring me even more to pay this amazing country a visit.
    I will be in Italy starting this summer, I have a photographic project to do that will take me to Italy, Germany and Turkey. Was planning to touch down in Rome first but now, Istanbul may move to number one on the list. Would you know of any artisans I should visit, specializing in textiles in Istanbul?
    Thank you!

  • Reply Desha November 20, 2010 at 5:05 am

    Holly, if you do a trip to Istanbul next year w/ Ace Camps- I’d LOVE to join and if you ever want to do a trip to Tunisia, I have some seriously amazing connections there for shopping in the authentic souks, best shops and hotels.
    xoxo desha

  • Reply julia November 20, 2010 at 5:31 am

    Seriously – I must have those bowls. They’re amazing. The bowls alone are with the transatlantic flight.

  • Reply Julie the Alkaline Sister November 20, 2010 at 6:38 am

    Now I will be dreaming of Turkey-and those faaaantastic bowls! I’d meet you there in a heart beat, but maybe I would bring my hubby this time to explore such a beautiful place! Thank you for planting the inspirational seed.

  • Reply christine November 20, 2010 at 7:26 am

    feels like a travelog! oooohhhh! such rich, colorful pictures. Think I’m adding Istanbul to my Bucket List.

  • Reply Diana L November 20, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    What luscious colors! The fabrics are to die for and those bowls… Yum!

  • Reply Victoria November 20, 2010 at 8:20 pm

    Istanbul – a city of contrasts! I really like it!

  • Reply vineeta November 21, 2010 at 9:48 am

    WOW WOW WOW. Istanbul has been on my mind for a while now & it seems where-ever i look people are going to Istanbul :) One friend is just settling in, another friend went on a vacation there & now you too Holly :) When will I goooo?? :) :) But scrumptous images Holly and I totally agree about reading up about a place before landing up. The locals are sometimes delighted that you know & for you there is a context. Love you for being an inspiration in all matters :) Sending a HUG!

  • Reply Tracy Kunzler November 21, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    I want a scarf that looks like those bowls! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE ’em!! Thanks for the eye feast! Also love the teen room – refreshing change from what my twin teen boys decorate with – dirty underwear, dishes, kleenex and candy wrappers!

  • Reply Eva Ricci Fine Art Photograpy November 21, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    I do agree those bowls are fabulous. You are truy blessed to get the opportunity to travel to all these places. Enjoy every moment Holly. xo

  • Reply Thomas Folke Andersen November 22, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    Oh wow, didn’t see this post prior to your ‘shop details’ post, but now I really want to visit Istanbul too…

    I really the detail shot of the bowls. Stunning!

  • Reply Priya November 22, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    Loving the virtual trip to Istanbul!

  • Reply Maria November 22, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    I want to go to Istanbul! Beautiful pictures.

  • Reply hena tayeb November 22, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    the tiles and the bowls are gorgeous.. Istumbul is one of those places on my places to see list.. hopefully one day soon

  • Reply Sioux December 13, 2010 at 10:29 pm

    oooh – I am so jealous! I love Istanbul for shopping!
    I hope your research helped you find great treasures.
    The last couple trips to Turkey have found it more and more difficult to buy things actually made in Turkey. It is more and more from China :( . I was in Kusadasi for 2 months in 2004 and got a couple chinese gifts by mistake, but we became very careful. My Mom is Turkish and she got me a great Pashmina scarf and some “genie slippers” with the toes that curl up on her trip last year. They were both made in China. Sadly, it was the bowls that got my radar up. So many “evil eye” figurines and painted items that we wanted were not Turkish source

  • Reply Lara August 2, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    No doubt, Istanbul is THEE best city in the world. Everything about it remarkable and so different. I wish i could live there when Im retired!

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