In this blog I am continuing to tell you about my time in Istanbul (the 3rd stop on my world trip) by sharing my experiences at the three biggest tourist attractions in Istanbul. The best part is that they are all right next to each other in the old city known as Constantinople. Make sure you do not miss a single blog by LIKING svGuidingLight on Facebook.
Now I must mention the sad events in the last month or two where Istanbul had a terrorist attack at the biggest airport and then certain aspects of the military attempted to stage a coup. I am sure both of these events have hampered tourism from the Western countries, because even with these being the biggest sightseeing places the crowds were quite low and most of the tourist there were from the Arab nations. When tourism picks back up you can save time by purchasing your tickets at kiosks off to the side. Also I do not recommend buying the Museum Pass since I would have spent less money with individual tickets.
With all that said let’s talk about the first stop which is Hagia Sophia (known locally as Aya Sofya). This church was the third church on this site, the other two were destroyed by rioters. In an amazing feat Byzantine Emperor Justinian I had the current church built in only 5 years starting in 532 AD (consider that some of the European churches of the Renaissances took a hundred years). The church is known for the large dome which collapsed in 558 due to earthquakes and the original pitch of the dome being too flat to bear the weight. The dome was replaced immediately and this time with the current roundness. When the Ottomans arrived in 1453 the Sultan was so impressed with the church that he had it converted into a mosque for him and the people to worship in. When the Turkish Republic was established and the government was moved to a secular existence the mosque was closed and turned into a museum. This building was very high on my list of places to see and I was impressed,
but unfortunately half the interior was obscured in scaffolding due to restoration. Make sure you visit the museum of tombs and the museum of rugs. Both have separate entrances and can be easily missed.
Topkapi Palace is the next place and it is the royal residence of the Ottoman sultans for almost 400 years. It was started right when the city was conquered and moved into in 1465. It does have an interesting layout as there are
three courtyards and the further back you go the smaller they get, but the nicer and more personal they are also.
One of the biggest draws is the tour of the Haram where the Sultan’s family and concubines lived. Some of these room are quite plush and I have decided that maybe we should bring harams back. 🙂
The popular Blue Mosque is actually known as Sultan Ahmed Mosque and was built in 1609. It was the first imperial mosque built in 40 years and he had it built due to a terrible defeat by the Persians in order to reassert Ottoman power. The mosque has some beautiful blue tiles inside going up to the ceiling, giving it the nickname of the Blue Mosque. Non-Muslims are
allowed to enter anytime outside of the prayer hours and once inside you have to appreciate how big and open the design is. Tomorrow the “Photo of the Day” will feature this mosque as a picture that just jumped out to me when I took it, so make sure you come back.
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