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Welcome to the Instagram blog! See how Instagrammers are capturing and sharing the world's moments through photo and video features, user spotlights, tips and news from Instagram HQ.

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Local Lens, User Feature, Istanbul, Turkey,

Local Lens: Pretending to be a Tourist in Istanbul with @umitko

In this series, local Instagrammers show you their favorite places to shoot around where they live. For a fresh perspective on Istanbul’s most iconic places, follow @umitko.

"The city is full of surprises," says Umit Savas (@umitko), who’s called Istanbul home for the past 12 years. “Even if you’ve been to the same location many times before, there is always something new to explore.”

When going out to shoot, Umit always tries to view her city with fresh eyes. “I am inspired by the spirit of being tourist,” she explains. “Some of my favorite spots include the breathtaking inner yard of the Blue Mosque, around the Obelisk of Theodosius in Sultanahmet square, Sirkeci Train Station and Dolmabahce Palace in Besiktas.”

Umit suggests taking a ferry out onto the Bosphorus for spectacular shots of the city skyline. “Seagulls accompany the journey while passing the Bosphorus Bridge, Historical Peninsula and Maiden Tower. When you get close to the Asian side, the Haydarpaşa Garı train station welcomes you in all its glory.”

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Local Lens, Istanbul, Turkey, Location Feature, User Feature,

Local Lens: Capturing Istanbul’s Colorful Streets and History with @sezgiolgac

In this series, local Instagrammers show you their favorite places to shoot around where they live. For more vivid moments from Istanbul, follow @sezgiolgac.

"I owe a lot to the inspiring streets of Istanbul,” says jazz singer and writer Sezgi Olgaç (@sezgiolgac), who has called Turkey’s largest city her home for the last 17 years. “Living in such a multi-layered city fills my soul with the passion and the creative spirits I need every day.”

Rich with Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman history, the ancient and photogenic city straddles the mighty Bosphorus straight, meaning half of Istanbul stands in Europe and the other half in Asia.

Karaköy is where you can take a walk by the Golden Horn, gazing at the iconic silhouettes of the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and New Mosque,” says Sezgi. “Walking across the Galata Bridge is sheer joy for an Instagrammer with its fishermen, ferries and seagulls.” On the other side of the straight sits Kadıköy, “which offers the best views of the Marmara Sea” and is home to the majestic Haydarpaşa Garı railway station.

For the seeker of narrow cobblestone alleys, Segzi suggests Beyoğlu. “Packed with music, bookstores, museums, cafés and a nostalgic tram, Beyoğlu is full of precious moments to capture.” Within walking distance sits Galata, an area steeped in history and home to the 600-year-old Galata Tower that, at 66.9 meters (219 feet), offers spectacular views for miles in every direction.

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Whirling Dervishes, Mevlevihane, turkey, video feature, photo feature,

The Dance of the Whirling Dervishes (Mevlevihane)

To view more photos and videos of the Mevlevihane, visit the Galata Mevlevihanesi and Hz. Mevlana Türbesi location pages as well as the #Mevlevihanesi and #WhirlingDervish hashtags.

For visitors to Turkey, a glimpse of the Whirling Dervishes or "Mevlevihane" is a must for any sightseeing list. The Dervishes, whose name means ”those who have chosen the road of suffering,” begin each dance by greeting their master then removing a black coat, a symbol of the earthly world, to reveal a white dress that symbolizes purity or "safa." They start to whirl like the planets around the Sun, raising their right hands to the heavens and pointing their left hands to the earthly world.

The best place to witness the Whirling Dervishes is in the city of Konya, at the tomb of Sufi poet Celalatin Rumi who is said to have invented whirling when he first spun himself into trance there in the 13th century. In Istanbul, the Galata Mevlevihanesi is the most famous Mevlevi Whirling Dervish hall. Performances are held there every Sunday evening.

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current events, turkey,

Turkish Protests Documented through Instagram

On May 31, three days after demonstrators set up camp in Istanbul’s Gezi Park to protest the development of a new shopping mall, police dispersed the crowd with water cannons and tear gas, setting off the most significant wave of protests in Turkey’s recent history.

Tapping into deeper cultural divisions and discontent, demonstrations have spread throughout Turkey, where protestors and bystanders alike have been documenting the skirmishes through Instagram.

View more photos from Istanbul by visiting locations pages for Gezi Park, İstiklal Caddesi and Kazancı Yokuşu. See photos from Ankara by visiting the Tunalı Hilmi Caddesi and Kuğulu Park location pages.

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Cappadocia, hot air balloons, Location Feature, turkey,

Location Feature: The Hot Air Balloons of Cappadocia

View more photos of hot air balloons and fairy chimneys by visiting the Cappadocia location page.

In the middle of Turkey sits Cappadocia, a region defined as much by its iconic “fairy chimneys" as by its long and colorful history.

These days, visitors from around the world make the trek to this region to catch a bird’s-eye view of the unique and spectacular scenery. Each morning, 90 balloons lift more than 1,500 passengers high above the landscape, providing one of the best Instagram opportunities the world has to offer.