Monday, April 4, 2016

Istanbul part 2 - Cistern, Süleymaniye Mosque, Istanbul University district, and the Grand Bazaar

April 4, 2016

We decided to visit the Istanbul Cistern, Süleymaniye Mosque (recommended by two people), the university district and the Grand Bazaar. 

Our hotel was just around the corner from the cistern so it only took us a few minutes to get to the entrance. The Cistern costs 20 TL (best bang for your buck) and it takes you below the city to the largest ancient cistern in Istanbul. It dates back to the 6th century and in 1985 underwent its restoration. It is famous for its two Medusa carved columns in the north east corner. For more detailed information here is a link: Istanbul Basilica Cistern

Upon entering we were greeted with 336 beautiful marble columns, pools of fresh water, fish included. The walkways took us through with many signs explaining what we were seeing. Our photos do not do it justice. It is a must see when visiting Istanbul.

our first view of the Cistern
yes, those are fish you see, they were left in to show that the water was/is fresh and not salt water
view of the ceiling

many columns (low light setting on the camera)
another shot with a flash

Crying Column - is different from the other columns as it has the appearance of always crying since it is wet. It is reported that it was erected in memorial of the slaves who died during the construction of the Great Basilica.
more fish

yes, this is Medusa's head....... 
the second head was placed upside down

Medusa Head columns - the two Medusa head columns are found in the north east corner of the Cistern and are a great example of the Roman Age art sculptures. It is not known where these two heads came from , but there is a rumour saying that they were brought here after being removed from an antique building of the late roman period. Another mystery is about why one of the Medusa heads is upside down while the other is tilted on its side.

dimly lit columns behind me
After the cistern we decided to take peoples advice and make our way to a newer mosque called Sülemaniye Mosque. On our way I saw this awesome cat house that doubles as a seat. I couldn't help but take a photo.

on our way to Süleymaniye Mosque we came across a chair that had been modified into a cat house
As we walked past stores and along streets we ended up following a high wall (which I first thought) might surround the university. It turns out that it surrounds the mosque that we were looking for.

As we turned a few more corners we came upon the mosque with a huge courtyard. The feel was so different from that of the Blue Mosque. Partly because there were less tourists but also it had a more peaceful air about it.

Upon entering there is no question that it is a more spiritual place (in my opinion). The decor much simpler than the Blue Mosque. In reality there is no comparison between the two because they are so different with the exception of both being mosques.

I felt very much at peace inside this mosque with its individual places designated by the carpet and the quiet simplicity of the decor. 

the wall that wraps around the mosque
first glimpse of Süleymaniye Mosque
the main entryway

Paige "loving" her head scarf
exterior ceiling artwork
up close shot

glass window that adorns the upper portion in the courtyard
wooden doors in the outside courtyard area
sufficiently covered to enter the mosque
view of the fountain inside the courtyard
interior carpet, individual spots for praying
interior ceiling domes
central ceiling dome

stunning stained glass

women's praying area (much smaller than the mens area)
male praying area
Yes, this is an ostrich egg. It supposedly keep spiders and insects away as they don't like the smell.

view of the inside
dome ceilings

ablution area outside the mosque
outside view of the mosque
water spouts
Once we had finished viewing the mosque we headed into the university district for a bite to eat and to see if we could find the aqueduct. Upon arrival we all were getting tired so decided against trying to find that aqueduct. We were able to see a small portion of it on our way to the café.

This café served THE best chicken shish that I have eaten in Turkey. We watched the bustle of students as they came and went during their lunch break. Once we had finished our lunch we headed around to see the universities main entrance. As we were walking I noticed several stamps in the concrete with a symbol and a date, I thought it looked really nice so I snapped a photo (later I saw another with a different date, I figure that it is when the area was built). The university entrance does not lack style. True to turkish grander it is quite the sight.

The entrance overlooks a small square with many pigeons. The girls of course wanted to feed the birds and as we were walking through a lady "handed" out seeds in trays. In reality the lady was hoping for a "donation". We gave her some money but I don't think she was super pleased at the amount. We finally made our way to the Grand Bazaar and on to our hotel. Another super day in Istanbul!

university district (view of the aqueduct that runs through)

lunch break
on our way to the university I noticed this stamp in the side of a bridge (later I saw another that had the same stamp but different date, perhaps it marks the year it was built)
Istanbul University

feeding pigeons out front of the university

gate 1 of the grand bazaar
ringed column
home to many pigeons

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

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