Travel writer lists Istanbul’s ‘secret treasures’ to visit

A prominent travel writer has listed the “secret treasures” of Istanbul to visit, with St. Mary of Blachernae, famously known as the “Church of the First Day of the Month Church,” topping the list.

The church, built in 1867 in the Fatih district, is a church known as a place where wishes come true due to an ancient ritual. On the first day of each month, religious devotees of all faiths visit the church to express a wish, believing that every wish is a door that can be opened with a key.

“You have to see the crowd on the first day of every month,” Saffet Emre Tonguç wrote in his column in the daily Hürriyet.

“One buys a ‘wish key’ or an ‘evil eye’ from street vendors outside the church and needles them to icons inside,” he stated.“But one should revisit the church when his or her wishes come true [to thank].”

Tonguç’s second piece of advice for “Istanbul lovers” to visit is the district governor’s office and the marketplace structure in the Kadıköy district built in 1927. “They are the beauties of the country’s first national architectural movement.”

The Column of Arcadius in the Fatih district is his third recommendation. The column, which was built in 404, “is one the 24 columns erected to protect the city through the history.”

Fourth on Tonguç’s list is the Sheikh Zafir Shrine in the Beşiktaş district, which, the writer said, was built in 1903 with an “art nouveau” style. “It is a unique, one-of-a-kind structure,” he added.

He then listed the “magnificent” Arab Mosque in the Beyoğlu district and the Rüstem Pasha Mosque in the Fatih district. The list ended with the German Fountain in the Fatih district, which was constructed to commemorate the second anniversary of German Emperor Wilhelm II’s visit to Istanbul in 1898.


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