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Istanbul Impressions

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…


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!)…


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.

Bowls from Istanbul

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.


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!







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)

Posted by decor8 in travel on November 19, 2010

Your comments...

  1. aphrochic commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 12:11am

    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.

  2. April-Living the Sweet Life commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 12:21am

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

  3. Andreia commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 12:24am

    I’ve never been there…I loved this ‘virtual trip’. Beautiful photos!
    Andreia´s last blog post ..Novos colares New necklaces

  4. fancylinda commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 12:27am

    Beautiful photos! I want to go to Istanbul now!

  5. Brooke H commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 12:37am

    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.
    Brooke H´s last blog post ..Holiday Gift Sales

  6. Zee commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 12:42am

    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.
    Zee´s last blog post ..Toffee Magazine

  7. Rebekah commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 1:06am

    Rebekah´s last blog post ..Top Ten- Memoirs About Nobility

  8. Gail Jacobson commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 1:21am

    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!

  9. Desha commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 1:56am

    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.
    Desha´s last blog post ..on practicality- a quiz

  10. Jana LU commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 2:03am

    thanks for sharing these beautiful photos!! Holly.
    I wish I’d be there someday.
    Jana LU´s last blog post ..Untitled

  11. heather commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 2:22am

    Looks like one should travel to Turkey with a couple of empty suitcases….love the textiles!
    heather´s last blog post ..Behind the doors in Paris

  12. melissa commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 2:26am

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

  13. Erin - The Smallest Sparrow commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 2:41am

    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.
    Erin – The Smallest Sparrow´s last blog post ..Rosette Picture Frame

  14. the fabled needle (jen) commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 2:43am

    wow holly, i love the use of color and pattern. what a beautiful place. :)
    the fabled needle (jen)´s last blog post ..Silhouette Holiday Cards in the Shop

  15. Vicki commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 2:43am

    Beautiful. The textiles are amazing. What an incredible trip.
    Vicki´s last blog post ..Lamps- Light and Color

  16. barbG commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 2:44am

    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.

  17. Ingrid commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 2:46am

    awesome!!! everything is so colorful!

  18. Jen smith commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 2:55am

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

    Jen smith´s last blog post ..One of Everything- Please

  19. Heather commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 3:22am

    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!!
    Heather´s last blog post ..Beauty That is You!

  20. Heather commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 3:24am

    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!
    Heather´s last blog post ..Pirate Booty

  21. Krista Nye Schwartz commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 4:13am

    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.

  22. Alison Gibbs commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 4:33am

    Amazing the colours are just fabulous
    Alison Gibbs´s last blog post ..20 Days to wait

  23. Lindsey commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 4:39am

    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!
    Lindsey´s last blog post ..Plantastic

  24. Maria commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 4:56am

    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
    Maria´s last blog post ..some things you dont know about me

  25. Manette commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 6:25am

    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.
    Manette´s last blog post ..New Beginnings Sea Glass Necklace

  26. Catherine Bayar commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 6:46am

    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!
    Catherine Bayar´s last blog post ..The girl effect hits home

  27. Tereza commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 7:01am

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

  28. Brandie commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 7:11am

    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.

  29. FwickeD commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 8:32am

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

  30. Laura commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 8:44am

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

  31. Leonie commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 9:37am

    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!

  32. flowing moments commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 9:39am

    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 !

  33. sandra lund commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 10:07am

    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 :-)
    sandra lund´s last blog post ..Wood and love in Copenhagen

  34. Katie - Coco Målé commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 10:38am

    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!!!
    Katie – Coco Målé´s last blog post ..Instant uplift

  35. stephanie commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 10:49am

    This looks gorgeous Holly! Oh how you make me want to go to Istanbul. Just amazing. Thanks for sharing :)
    stephanie´s last blog post ..artists who blog – Shona Cole

  36. ana commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 11:20am

    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.
    ana´s last blog post ..RED Vintage Style Button Bobby Pins Trio

  37. Stylissimo commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 11:34am

    Wow! Everything looks simply amazing.

  38. decor8 commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 1:03pm

    @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.

  39. decor8 commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 1:04pm

    @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!!!

  40. decor8 commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 1:05pm

    @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.

  41. lauren commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 2:29pm

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

  42. reportero de lluvia commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 2:55pm

    woww!! great!!
    see you!

  43. euphoric commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 3:31pm

    wellcome to ?stanbul :)

  44. euphoric commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 3:32pm

    wellcome to ?stanbul :)

  45. Space by Eliana Tomas commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 3:36pm

    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.

  46. nino commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 3:36pm

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

    nino´s last blog post ..Velocite

  47. Patricia Torres commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 3:45pm

    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.. :-)
    Patricia Torres´s last blog post ..Home decor pour ma cousine

  48. Libby James commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 4:13pm

    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.

  49. arzu commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 4:30pm

    I am from Istanbul but live in New York for a while. Your fotos are great.I realized that I miss Istanbul.
    arzu´s last blog post ..İyi Bayramlar

  50. Judit Gueth commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 4:32pm

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

  51. Melissa de la Fuente commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 4:47pm

    Just incredible….be still my beating heart! So glad you had such a great time hun! Beautiful…
    Melissa de la Fuente´s last blog post ..little things &amp little moments

  52. Melissa Allam commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 5:43pm

    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.

  53. PriscilaPetersDecor commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 6:39pm

    This post makes me smile. Colors, patterns, cat, chandeliers…. everything here is stunning!
    PriscilaPetersDecor´s last blog post ..Golden details

  54. Rick @Home Accents | Garden Accents commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 7:49pm

    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.

  55. laura trevey commented
    November 19th, 2010 at 9:30pm

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

  56. vee commented
    November 20th, 2010 at 2:27am

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

  57. Rachel Biel commented
    November 20th, 2010 at 3:21am

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


    Wish I could make it there someday!

  58. This Time Now commented
    November 20th, 2010 at 3:29am

    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!
    This Time Now´s last blog post ..Don’t stop The Presses!

  59. Desha commented
    November 20th, 2010 at 5:05am

    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
    Desha´s last blog post ..on practicality- a quiz

  60. julia commented
    November 20th, 2010 at 5:31am

    Seriously – I must have those bowls. They’re amazing. The bowls alone are with the transatlantic flight.
    julia´s last blog post ..toddler- job- pregnant- husband- house- food- craft me

  61. Julie the Alkaline Sister commented
    November 20th, 2010 at 6:38am

    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.
    Julie the Alkaline Sister´s last blog post ..Cozy Raw Veggie Soup w- Peas- Carrots- Ginger &amp Cilantro-Conscious Eating is Life Changing!

  62. christine commented
    November 20th, 2010 at 7:26am

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

  63. Diana L commented
    November 20th, 2010 at 6:49pm

    What luscious colors! The fabrics are to die for and those bowls… Yum!
    Diana L´s last blog post ..Cobalt sea glass drop pendant- sea glass necklace- beach wedding- seashore- nautical jewelry- genuine sea glass

  64. Victoria commented
    November 20th, 2010 at 8:20pm

    Istanbul – a city of contrasts! I really like it!
    Victoria´s last blog post ..Sexuality and transcendence

  65. vineeta commented
    November 21st, 2010 at 9:48am

    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!
    vineeta´s last blog post ..Neha Gandhi and Matsya

  66. Tracy Kunzler commented
    November 21st, 2010 at 6:35pm

    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!
    Tracy Kunzler´s last blog post ..Peace Christmas Banner Garland

  67. Eva Ricci Fine Art Photograpy commented
    November 21st, 2010 at 8:57pm

    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

  68. Thomas Folke Andersen commented
    November 22nd, 2010 at 2:11pm

    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!
    Thomas Folke Andersen´s last blog post ..round-and-round-01psd by Thomas Andersen

  69. Priya commented
    November 22nd, 2010 at 5:13pm

    Loving the virtual trip to Istanbul!

  70. Maria commented
    November 22nd, 2010 at 10:01pm

    I want to go to Istanbul! Beautiful pictures.

  71. hena tayeb commented
    November 22nd, 2010 at 10:02pm

    the tiles and the bowls are gorgeous.. Istumbul is one of those places on my places to see list.. hopefully one day soon
    hena tayeb´s last blog post ..New- Bunny Love

  72. Sioux commented
    December 13th, 2010 at 10:29pm

    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

  73. Lara commented
    August 2nd, 2012 at 12:17pm

    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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