Sept 6, 2010 – Istanbul
We usually travel in September. In 2010, we visited Turkey and just fell in love with the place. Since this year, the Pandemic has locked us down at home, I decided to relive our Turkey trip day by day. We reached yesterday (Reliving the 2010 Turkey trip – Day 1) and met Yusuf at Backpackers Travel (now Efendi Travel) office. Today was the first day of sightseeing and we went for a city tour of Istanbul.
Our first stop was at the Seven Towers. This place was used a fortress and prison by Mehmet the Conqueror. It was initially built as the Golden Gate in the times of the Byzantine Emperors Theodosius I and Theodosius II. This gate was the ceremonial entrance to the city of Constantinople and had four towers. The door at that time was covered in gold !
Mehmet the Conqueror in 1453, built three more towers and converted this into a treasury and prison. There are dungeons here that prisoners were pushed down into.
We half listened to the guide as he explained about the many different rulers who used this place because we spotted the gorgeous Marmara sea view …. I still have these pictures of the stunning Marmara sea on my desktop.
From the Seven Towers, we went to the Chora Church. Yes, the same Chora Church that has now been converted back to a Mosque ! This church has some amazing mosaics that had been plastered over by the Ottomans.
This church was built sometime in the 1300’s when the older Chora Monastery was in ruins. Several minor members of the Byzantine empire were buried here. This was briefly converted to a mosque between 1495 to 1511. Finally in 1945, it was made into a heritage site under the Hagia Sophia.
We came to Turkey because of Istanbul and the fact that this city is where Asia meets Europe. Our next stop was at the Galata tower to get the best views of the famous Golden Horn. This is the place where you can see the old Istanbul and its the point where the Bosphorus inlet is.
The two pictures are mostly seen in Bond movies :), another big reason to be here.
Eyup Sultan Mosque
Our next stop was at the Eyüp Sultan Mosque which is Turkey’s oldest and most sacred mosque. Built by the Ottomans. This mosque is next in line of being one of the most important sites for Muslims with Mecca in Saudi Arabia being the first making a significant symbol for Islam. The history behind its name goes back as far as the time of Muhammad where his closest and trustworthy friend was named Eyüp. Do read more about the Eyüp Sultan Mosque.
Old Patriarch Orthodox Church
This Greek Orthodox church was our next stop in the Fener district. Just a few hours into the city tour and the history is overwhelming. The Byzantine empire, Ottoman empire and several others in between ! Istanbul has both historic churches and historic mosques. Truly fascinating.
This was first city tour of Istanbul. We went out to eat a late lunch+dinner at a nearby restaurant. The tandoori rotis here are huge and very tasty. Vegetarian food is available…. but the doner kebabs greet you at every corner.
Tomorrow we do the Bosphorus cruise.