Sunday, April 3, 2016

Istanbul part 1 - Hagia Sophia, pet bazaar, and spice market,

April 2, 2013

We left Finike early with our airport transfer and for $40.00 CAD each we were on a wide body jet with Turkish airlines. We were served a meal and drinks and arrived in Istanbul in the afternoon. We hopped on the Metro and arrived in Sultanahmet. Our hotel (Ambassador Hotel) was within walking distance of many of the top sights in Istanbul. In fact from the rooftop terrace we had a spectacular view. 

view of the Blue Mosque from the rooftop terrace
same view
Hagia Sophia Royal Mosque in the distance
Hagia Sophia Royal Mosque behind Paige
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque in the distance
The hotel offered a wonderful breakfast with a variety, there was something that everyone liked (bonus). For every new traveller the chef produces a special plate. 

the special plate prepared by the chef
Turkish crow looking for a snack
the chef and Jordan
We decided after breakfast to head down to the Hagia Sophia Royal Mosque to check it out. From 537 - 1453 it was a Greek Orthodox Basilica. In 1453 Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks and the Basilica was transformed into a Mosque. For more information here is a link:

outside the main entrance were some stones
the main entrance

one of the many ceiling domes
one of the many Islamic features added when the Basilica was converted to a Mosque
inside another dome
upper balcony
intricate carving at the top of a column

one of the many marble columns
a shot of a chandelier in front of the scaffolding they are using to restore/repair portions of the Mosque
so much marble
we loved the intricate carved stone
view up to the ceiling of a beautifully painted image of a bird woman
closeup shot
the Omphalion - place of the coronation ceremony of the Eastern Roman Emperors
marble walls
crazy stone carved tablets adorning the columns

marble indentation great to check on how tall the girls are.....

We found the tile mosaic markings very interesting. The Greek Orthodox church and the Buddhist faith have these symbols in their places of worship. It is sad that they are now associated with hate, fascism and a horrible part of the worlds more modern history.

the Sultan's Lodge - a special place reserved for the ottoman Sultans for Bayram and Friday prayers and also special nights of religious significance (Kandils). Made by Fossati Brothers between 1847 and 1849, during the reign of Sultan Abdülmecid

a shot through a window to the other side
Sultan mAhmud I's Library - it has a Reading Room and Library (Hazine-I Kütüp). Decorated with16th and 18th century Iznik, Kütähya and Tekfur Palace tiles. It was built in 1739 by Sultan Muhamud I.
Wooden Stairs - Hand-made portable stairs used in the restoration and cleaning of the Ayasofya. It was made in  the late 19th century, with some later additions in the early 20th.
Marble jars - Marble jars were used on special days to distribute water and sherbet. It belongs  to the Hellenistic Period (4-3 centuries BC) and is made of monolithic marble. It was brought by Sultan Murad III (1574-1595) from ancient Pergamon.

humungous doors that allow entry and exit from the main floor  into the mosque

many patterns of marble
entrance to the upper floor
first walkway
switchbacks up to the second floor
small arched windows

stones that make up the floor
almost to the top
waiting patiently
up close shot of one Islamic medallion

Empress Lodge - the lodge where the Empress followed religious ceremonies during the Eastern Roman Empire
exquisit carving in the marble door
The Marble Door 6th Century - The door separates the section where there were the private chambers of the Emperor  (metatorion) and meeting place for the Church members
Mosaic panel 13th Century Deisis - Christ in the middle - John the Baptist on the right and Virgin Mary on the left.
what the original mosaic looked like
The Viking Script 9th Century - The engraved inscription was written by a Viking Imperial guard of the Eastern Roman Empire
view from upper level
painting on the ceiling
view of the Blue Mosque minarets 
Tombstone of Henricus Dandolo - It is believed to be the tombstone os the Venetian Doge Henricus Dandolo who came to Istanbul and died here after the fourth crusade (1204)
peak-a-boo view of the Blue Mosque

view of the Blue Mosque
the tablet below the window with the view of the Blue Mosque
Mosaic Panel 12th Century - Virgin Mary in the middle, Child in her arms, Emperor John II Komnenos on the left, his wife the Empress Elrene on the right, their son Alexis above the buttress. The Emperor and his wife donating money to the Hagia Sophia.
incredible stained glass windows
more intricately carved tablets
heading back to the main floor

there is a place to put your thumb in the column and when you twist your hand, you make a wish
The Weeping Column - the column has been the subject of various legends and it is believed to be sacred
Synod Decisions - a stucco copy of decisions taken in the Synod Assembly (Spiritual Assembly) that met in Hagia Sophia in 1166
a carved bell in the main hall as we exited
Sarcophagus of the Empress - it is believed to belong to the Empress Elrene, the wife of Emperor John II
cafe outside the Hagia Sophia enjoying the beautiful weather
Ottoman Horizontal Sundial

ablution area for the Hagia Sophia to cleanse before praying
Fountain (Shadervan) - water facility built next to the mosques for ablution. It was built in 1740 in the period of Sultan Mahmud I.
opposite side from the street of the Hagia Sophia
another view
water spout
Later in the day we walked down to the spice market. Before entering this area we noticed the pet Bazaar area. It comprises of many pet shops interspersed with plant/veggie shops. Paige noticed a pet store that had bulk bins of bird food that the pigeons were taking full advantage of. I could only go into one shop and see the animals. I find it hard to see them all waiting for homes but the hardest part for me is knowing that many will end up on the street or worse. It was an interesting experience none the less.

We then entered the spice market and noticed how crowded it was. Not too many tourists but many Turkish people. It was Sunday and many Turkish families use this day to spend time with their families.

woohoo, free food

spice market
outside portion of the market
loads of spices hanging and ready to sell

packaging up coffee, this was a popular store with a long line outside
a shot up the street
largest kunefe I have seen yet - this is a Turkish delicacy:
let the eating begin
plethora of dried fruit
mounds of powdered spices
refilling one of the spices
hmmm, candies
Turkish delight
another outside shot
There was always police present wherever we went making us feel as safe as one can feel. There were tourists about but not as many due to the issues happening. This made our visit pleasant as there were very few if any lines to see these sites.

Follow our video adventures on our YouTube channel: Video adventures of s/v Element

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