Turkey, the Eclipse & Vienna in 2006

March 26: And still more in Istanbul


Hippodrome, The Blue Mosque, Basilica Cistern,
Hagia Sophia, & Topkapi Palace

 

March 24
Istanbul

March 25
More in Istanbul

March 27
Istanbul to Antalya
March 28
Antalya to Olympos
March 29
ECLIPSE DAY
March 30
Olympos to Kalkan
March 31
Kalkan to Fethiye

April 1
Fethiye to Pamukkale

April 2
Pamukkale to Kusadasi
April 3
Kusadasi to Istanbul
April 4
Istanbul
April 6
Vienna
 
Our hotel in the Sultanahmet District was perfectly located for easy walking to this day's destinations. We began at the Hippodrome one block down the hill. Today it looks like a park with various monuments but at one time it was a race track and center of the local activities. Highlights here are the two obelisks.  
         
Then we entered the grounds of the Blue Mosque. To enter the interior with the long lines of visitors we removed our shoes as this is an active mosque and is used for daily prayers. Five times a day a Muslim is bound to perform the Salaah, the fixed ritual of the Islamic prayer - worship. He should properly go to the nearest mosque to offer his prayers together with the whole congregation. In lieu of going to a mosque many muslims face toward the East and offer their prayers where they are at work or home.
         
         
Then we went to the Basilica Cistern which was very interesting. Currently there are fish swimming in the water (put there to entertain the tourists). For many years after the Ottoman conquest knowledge of the cistern was lost. However stories of how local people were able to draw water, and even fish, from wells in their basements led to its rediscovery. Walking down the steps into the dim interior the first impression is one of wonder and slight disbelief. It is hard to imagine that such a place can exist below the busy streets of Istanbul.

From there we moved on to Hagia Sophia. Although there is a large scaffold in the center and reportedly little work taking place it is awe inspiring and fascinating to think of its construction and the Christian origins.
         
         
Then we walked to Topkapi Palace. First we stopped at a lovely restaurant on the Palace grounds overlooking the Sea of Marmara and then explored parts of the Palace. We saw the treasures (jewelry, gems, etc.) in the Treasury and lots of lovely tile work. By this time my brain was in overload mode. I delighted in getting back to the hotel and resting before dinner in a lovely restaurant where we sat in a greenhouse. It was another good day.