Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Topkapi Palace

Fatih University

The Spice Market


Lunch Break

After the Basilica Cistern, we were in desperate need of refreshment. So we followed our tour guide to a restaurant where our tour organizer, Yousman, had designed a special menu of homemade soup and Turkish ravioli.

Basilica Cistern

Deep under the streets of the Sultanahmet district of Istanbul, a vast underground cavern supported by seemingly endless rows of columns wait in the darkness. This stony vault was constructed by slaves to store the water supplies for the city in deep reservoirs in case of a siege. Now, the Basilica Cistern sits mostly empty but illuminated for tourists to pass through the cavern.

The Hagia Sofia

Right across the plaza from the Blue Mosque, stands the Hagia Sofia (here the Ayasofya). The name means "Holy Wisdom" and the structure was the largest cathedral for nearly a millennium.

After the fall of Constantinople, the cathedral was converted into a mosque. You can see the evidence of the conversion by the large discs of displayed Arabic script and the adjustment of the nave to be tilted slightly offset so that the innermost portion of Aya Sofya points toward Mecca.

The cavernous interior is decorated with ornate painting and mosaics such as the one shown here.

The Blue Mosque

From the Hippodrome we walked toward the sea and climbed the steps to one of the spectacular architectural achievements in the world: The Sultan Ahmed Mosque - also known as the "Blue Mosque" for its blue tiles.