Day 2 of Ancient Istanbul
Trip Start Oct 13, 2012
22Trip End Nov 02, 2012
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We got up early to beat the tourists from the cruise ships. We went to the Blue Mosque. It was built from 1609 to 1616. It is best known for its courtyard, elegant domes, and 6 heavenly minarets. It is called the Blue Mosque, which of course is not its official name, because its interior gleams with a magnificent paneling of blue and white Iznik tiles.
Then we went to the Hagia Sophia Museum. It was originally built as a Christian church in the 6th century. It served as the mother church of the Orthodox religion for more than 1,000 years. In 1453, the Ottoman Turks seized control of Istanbul and converted the church into a mosque, which it remained until 1935. Today it is a museum. It is remarkable for its huge dome
The Topkapi Palace is right around the corner from the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. It was the palace of the King and Queen but it is not the same as the palaces of western Europe, like Buckingham Palace. It is a maze of buildings, gardens and walkways. It served as the seat of power of the Ottoman Empire between the 15th and 19th centuries. The palace was a city-palace with a population of about 4000 people. It housed all the Ottoman sultans. Today, it is the world's richest museum, and a masterpiece of Turkish architecture. A complex of shady courtyards overlooking the BosporusStraits. Highlights include the weapons collection, and galleries exhibiting the imperial collection of crystal, silver, fabled jewels, and Chinese porcelain.
Just outside of these buildings is the Roman Hippodrome, where thundering chariots once competed in races. Inside the oval racing ring are 3 impressive columns.
At the end of the afternoon, we visited the Grand Bazaar. It was set up in the 15th century and is the oldest covered mall in the world. There are over 4000 shops. It used to be a mall for the local people to buy everyday items but now it caters to tourists and sells mainly jewelry, Turkish rugs and junk.