Thursday, October 18, 2012

Istanbul, 2007 (Day 1)

After starting my overland trip to Egypt (by land) in Greece, it was time to move on to Turkey.  First stop = Istanbul (not Constantinople).  Here's Day 1 of 3 (and yes, I knew in advance that 3 days in Istanbul would not come close to doing the great city justice).

The fields and farms of Turkish Thrace.

My first impression of Istanbul.

After arriving, I had to find a hostel.  Fortunately, I found one very close to Hagia Sophia (the Church of Holy Wisdom, seen here) and the other main sights of Sultanahmet and Seraglio Point.

The Blue Mosque (officially Sultan Ahmed Mosque), opposite the church of Hagia Sophia, was built following the conquest of Constantinople to rival its neighbor in architecture.

The Fountain of Ahmet III was built in 1728 in the Turkish Rococo style.

The Imperial Gate leading to the courtyard of Topkapi Palace, next to the Fountain of Ahmet III.

After scouting the area, I decided that the first thing I had to do in Istanbul was to see Hagia Sophia, which was once the spiritual and architectural focal point of Orthodox Christianity.  As you may know (and as is obvious from this photo), it was converted to a mosque upon the conquest of Constantinople, before becoming a secular museum under Ataturk.

I was far from alone inside the extremely large building (which was for many years the largest building in the world).

The mihrab seen here (which indicates the direction of Mecca, and thus the direction of prayer) stands where the altar of the church once stood.

Iconography is visible inside the domes.

The minbar, from which the imam would address the congregation.

The second level of Hagia Sophia, specifically the Loge of the Empress.

Many of the original icons were covered in plaster by the Muslims, since religious imagery is considered idolatry in Islam.  

Loge of the Empress.

Yours truly in the Loge.

The backside of one of the huge Islamic shields.

A famous icon of Christ.

A mosaic icon of St. John the Baptist.

The Virgin.

A shame the entire icon mosaic isn't intact.  

The grave of Henricus Dandolo, the Doge of Venice and commander of the Latin armies that invaded Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade.  He died during the expedition.

View from Hagia Sophia over to the Blue Mosque.

There were many more mosaic icons.

The Virgin and Child flanked by Emperors Justinian and Constantine.

Exterior of Hagia Sophia.

Hagia Eirene, the oldest church in Istanbul (although the present building "only" dates to the 6th century).  It is located behind the Imperial Gate leading to Topkapi Palace.

Hagia Eirene

It was time to officially enter Topkapi Palace (the palace of the Ottoman sultans), through the Gate of Salutations.

Gate of Salutations

Impressive tiles inside Topkapi Palace.

The Harem of Topkapi Palace

The Harem

Courtyard of the Apartments of the Queen Mother, the Harem

Courtyard of the Black Eunichs, inside the Harem.


Salon of the Valide Sultan, the Harem

The Imperial Hall, the largest room of the Harem

One of the Harem chambers.

One of the Harem chambers.

The Courtyard of the Favorites, the Harem.

Windows in the Courtyard of the Favorites.

Courtyard of the Favorites

Courtyard of the Favorites

Twin Kiosk, Topkapi Palace

View towards Beyoglu district of Istanbul.

The Gate of Felicity, leading to the Inner Court of Topkapi Palace.

Unsure what this is (Topkapi Palace).

Golden door, Topkapi Palace

The kitchen chimneys of Topkapi Palace.

Lovely view of the Bosphorus, looking between Europe (on the left and in the foreground) and Asia (on the right).

European Istanbul in the background.

Iftar Kiosk, offering views of the Golden Horn.

Beyoglu district of Istanbul, seen from Topkapi Palace.

Grand Kiosk, Topkapi Palace, built in 1840 (the last significant addition to the palace).

Blue Mosque, approaching my hostel.

Hagia Sophia, approaching my hostel.

Later at night = gold shop inside the Grand Bazaar.

One of the many passageways of the Grand Bazaar.

Day 2 coming up.  Stay tuned.

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