Sept 8, 2010 Istanbul, Turkey
Today’s plans included, the famed Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, the even more famed Hagia Sophia and the Basilica Cistern.
The actual name of the Blue Mosque is Sultan Ahmed Mosque. It is an Ottoman-era, still functioning mosque. It was constructed between 1609 and 1616 during the rule of Ahmed I. Read more about the Sultan Ahmed Mosque.
The Blue Mosque has some of the most beautiful stained glass windows we have ever seen. I was remembering the Medak Church which was the first place that I saw stained glass windows. The Blue Mosque is adjacent to the Hagia Sophia.
But we went to the Topkapi Palace next as there are time restrictions there.
The Topkapi Palace is the former Ottoman administrative center and imperial residence for nearly 400 years. Its now a museum housing imperial collections. Read more about the Topkapi Palace.
We had some Apple tea and a pastry at the restaurant within the Museum complex. Our next stop was at Hagia Sophia.
The Hagia Sophia is known as the AyaSofya in Turkish. It is one of the great monuments of the world. The Notre Dame can fit into the dome of the Hagia Sophia. It was built by the Byzantine emperor Justinian I as a Christian church in the 6th century CE. It was converted into a mosque, a museum and more recently back to a mosque. We found inscriptions of Islam and Christian mosaics, a truly secular building !!
It took us nearly an hour to look around the massive Hagia Sophia. We then crossed the road to visit the Basilica Cistern.
The Basilica Cistern is amongst the largest cisterns that lie beneath the city of Istanbul. This cistern has a little water and tourists can walk around inside. It still supplies water to the city. The columns here have medusa’s head as the base. One famous column has a sideways Medusa head. The cistern has been featured in the James Bond movie “From Russia with Love” and several other Hollywood productions.
What an amazing day !! Our guide today was lamenting that she had to study several volumes of history to become a tour guide because Turkey has had several Kings ruling it. She said, either we fought with somebody or someone else fought with us :).
As I have mentioned in my earlier blogs, we usually travel in September. In 2010, we visited Turkey and just fell in love with the place. This year, the Pandemic has locked us down at home. So I decided to relive our Turkey trip day by day. We reached Istanbul on Sept 5th (Reliving the 2010 Turkey trip – Day 1). The first day of sightseeing was on Sept 6, 2010. Read about it @ Reliving the 2010 Turkey trip – Day 2.