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History, Art, & More: Why Istanbul Has My Heart

Straddling both Europe and Asia, Turkey is a country bursting with culture. One of Turkey’s most well-known cities is Istanbul, a history-filled city that tells its story through its people and art. There are many reasons one may choose to travel to Istanbul: family, religion, vacation. However, whatever the initial reason is that draws one to this enchanting city is often overshadowed by the unexpected experiences one has while there.


Istanbul

History

First-time travelers to Istanbul will notice right away that they are stepping foot on ancient grounds. While technology is ever-changing and structures are built and rebuilt, the heart of this city and its people are rooted in a strong tradition and culture that refuses to be swept away by time. It is for this reason that I believe that it is impossible for one to travel to Istanbul without feeling a deeper connection to humanity. This Eurasian city was once known as Byzantium, as well as Constantinople. Despite the many famous names Istanbul has been known by throughout history, it has always been known as a hub of culture and art, a place for trade and travel, and a bridge between continents.


Outdoor dining in Istanbul

Food

If you are one to believe that food is not an art form, you may change your mind when you visit Turkey. Whether you are discovering street food in Istanbul, or in someone’s home having a traditional home-cooked meal, the flavors found in Turkish food are like none other. Turkish cuisine utilizes many staple ingredients such as tomato paste, yogurt, rice, onions, beef, white cheese, and bulgur. However, it is not Turkish cuisine without fresh spices and herbs. Some common spices and herbs that can be found in Turkish cuisine include cinnamon, coriander, cumin, red pepper flakes, mint, sumac, sesame seeds, nigella seeds, paprika, and allspice. If you ever have a chance to visit Istanbul, you are in for a treat.


Book shop in Istanbul

Culture & Art: Grand Bazaar

Istanbul is home to the world’s largest and most popular trading center, the Grand Bazaar. Having visited there myself to find pieces I could use in my jewelry, I can attest to its grandeur. At Grand Bazaar, you will find handmade fabrics, crafts, ceramics, and more, all encapsulated under miles and miles of canopies. While you may feel that you are in an entirely different world while surrounded by these tents and canopies, it is astonishing to realize that the entire market takes place outdoors. As the world seems to change at such a fast pace, it is comforting to know that the Grand Bazaar has remained constant. Quality items can be found on every corner, and inspiration is bursting at the seams. I am lucky to have had this experience in Istanbul, to have visited Grand Bazaar and found truly wonderful pieces to create my art with. This is what makes my jewelry so special to me, and why I am so proud to share it with others.


Amita Bhalla in Istanbul

Why I Create

Cities such as Istanbul stand as a reminder of what makes us human, that what we create lives on longer than we could ever dream. At the heart of it, I think this is why I feel compelled to create art. My jewelry tells my story, as well as the stories of others. It is never about the physical object itself, but the meaning and associations we place upon it. It is for this reason that I continue to share not only my handmade creations, but my story as well, in hopes that my art will find its place in the lives of others.


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