Friday, February 12, 2016

Hagia Sophia & More

TODAY'S PHOTO ALBUM: Istanbul - Day 2

Slept like a couple of logs and woke up around 8.  Made our way up to the roof top restaurant for breakfast. Great spread - haven't had halavah in a very long time. Finished breakfast, gathered as much stuff as we could remember, which means we forgot - the map, the water, the apple.  No biggie, we had the camera, money, and gps - all good. Headed for Hagia Sophia - no one was there except the tour guides ready to greet us.  We chose Art (who happened to be from Norway of all places), or rather he chose us and toured this magnificent building.  A lot is under restoration, but it is still awesome to stand in the center and feel the centuries go by. This building is the third creation. The first was wood and burned down. The second is buried beneath.

Hagia Sophia (from the GreekἉγία Σοφία, "Holy Wisdom"; LatinSancta Sophia or Sancta Sapientia; TurkishAyasofya) is former Christian patriarchal basilica (church), later an imperial mosque, and now a museum (Ayasofya Müzesi) in IstanbulTurkey. From the date of its construction in 537 until 1453, it served as an Orthodox cathedral and seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople, except between 1204 and 1261, when it was converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral under the Latin Empire. The building was a mosque from 29 May 1453 until 1931. It was then secularized and opened as a museum on 1 February 1935.
Famous in particular for its massive dome, it is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture and is said to have "changed the history of architecture". It remained the world's largest cathedral for nearly a thousand years, until Seville Cathedral was completed in 1520. The current building was originally constructed as a church between 532 and 537 on the orders of the Byzantine EmperorJustinian I and was the third Church of the Holy Wisdom to occupy the site, the previous two having both been destroyed by rioters. It was designed by the Greek geometers Isidore of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles.
Leaving Hagia Sophia, we took in the sights of the Blue Mosque straight across the way.  That's on the list for tomorrow.  We followed the road to Topkapi Palace. Here we opted for the audio guide instead of a person. This way we could go at our own pace.
The Topkapı Palace (TurkishTopkapı Saray or in Ottomanطوپقاپو سرايى) or the Seraglio is a large palace inIstanbulTurkey, that was one of the major residences of the Ottoman sultans for almost 400 years (1465–1856) of their 624-year reign.
As well as a royal residence, the palace was a setting for state occasions and royal entertainments. It is now a museum and as such a major tourist attraction. It also contains important holy relics of the Muslim world, including Muhammed's cloak and sword.[4] The Topkapı Palace is among the monuments contained within the "Historic Areas of Istanbul", which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985, and is described under UNESCO's criterion iv as "the best example[s] of ensembles of palaces [...] of the Ottoman period."
Could not take pictures inside many of the exhibit rooms. It was quite a strange feeling staring at the staff of Moses or the foot imprint of Mohammad. There are also cuttings from his beard and a piece of chipped tooth. Then there are the jewels -- and 86 carat diamond!  The weaponry display was also amazing. Huge swords, rifles, and lots of intricate armor. There is also a large display of various clocks. For a few Turkish Lira more, you enter the Harem - pretty self explanatory.

We were done touring and hung around the terrace a bit taking in the sights of the Golden Horn (local waterway) and the Bosphorus strait with views of both Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.
Made our way down to the cafeteria with more views. Sat with our lentil soup and tea commenting on what great weather we were having when - you guessed it- the rain started to come down. We had hoped to do the Blue Mosque after lunch but the prayers started so we decided to hold off till tomorrow. On our way out of the Palace, we stopped into the Carpet Museum. Cool rugs dating as far back as the 1300s.

The rain let up on the walk back to the hotel. Bought some roasted chestnuts from a street vendor. Haven't had those since New York either. Poked around our little neighborhood some and then the rain came down pretty good. Hustled back to the room. Some R&R then it's back out to see what we can see this evening.

Great dinner. Ended the evening with a Turkish bath and foam massage. Feels like heaven! That's all the energy I have left to write.  Till tomorrow...

Next time...More of Constantinople

TODAY'S PHOTO ALBUM: Istanbul - Day 2

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