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.
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.
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.