Friday, October 3, 2014

Istanbul, Turkey - Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia & Hippodrome.

Bags packed again for another solo trip (Solo Travel To Bangkok) in a tour group to Turkey, I actually felt sentimental travelling without my half-half. Then again, I suppose by now he is used to taking care of himself while I am away, he drove me to the airport before I departed via Dubai to arrive in Istanbul during this freezing winter. Istanbul  - the only metropolis in the world which is geographically situated on two continents - Europe and Asia, oh wow! How spectacular as I walked from the main road to the restaurant.  

Pretty empty as we stepped inside, soon arrived the colourful fresh salad, the beans in olive oil, the traditional chicken dish paired with Turkish flat bread and the two desserts. Truly sumptuous as the first Turkish meal, I enjoyed every bit of the savoury dishes, but just so little of the really sweet and rich dessert. Still, a meal to rave about.   

Dinner was the only thing for day, we then checked into Taksim Goren Hotel and my room was on the 7th floor facing the busy street. I showered and slept off, the next morning after the buffet breakfast, off we left for sightseeing.  

The first place we visited was the Sultan Ahmed mosque or Blue mosque. Indeed, blue tiles on the inner walls whereas the exterior features a cascade of domes and the six slender minaret dominating the skyline of Istanbul. As shoes are not allowed inside the mosque, we placed and carried it in the plastic bag provided while viewing the mosque. Also, no revealing outfits are allowed and scarves are given to women to cover their head. I on the other hand am used to covering my head with a scarf whenever I travel, so I was the first in and first out of the mosque.

Blue Mosque is a huge elegant architectural example as one of the most beautiful sights in Istanbul. The striking feature inside is the beautifully arranged cascade of domes that seem to spill down from the great central dome. The arcades running beneath each dome add further visual rhythm. But none of the exterior is blue except for the outside blue tiles, the high ceiling is lined with the 20,00 blue tiles. Fine examples of 16th century Iznik design, the oldest tiles features flowers, trees and abstract patterns. The interior is lit with 260 windows which was once filled with 17th century stained glass and those lost replaced with interior replicas.

After viewing Blue Mosque, we walked across to Hagia Sophia (the church of the holy wisdom). Hagia Sophia is a great beauty, an important monument for Byzantine and for Ottomon empire and a perfect synthesis to observe both under one dome - once a church, later a mosque and now a museum. Universally recognised as one of the great buildings in the world that holds so much of history, its interior is decorated with mosaics and marble pillars, covering of great artistic value.

At ground level, most of the sights are from the Islamic period. Today the galleries provide visitors with a commanding view of the nave from all sides and a close up view of some of the best Byzantine mosaics to be seen anywhere.

Outside, there's road side stalls selling Turkish bread and grilled corn. Honestly, I was tempted to try but since lunch will be calling soon, I changed my mind.

From Hagia Sophia, we continued walking to arrive at the hippodrome - previously a horse racing track and currently, an elongated public garden with the road running around it following the identical course of the chariot racing track. Here you will see the Egyptian Obelisk and Serpentine or Spiral Column.

The obelisk stands on a marble base, sculpted with scenes of Emperor Theodosius and his family and the spiral column set in the middle of the hippodrome commemorates the victory of the Greeks over the Persians in 480 BC.

We then had lunch and returned to the hotel.

Next: Bosphorus cruise.

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  1. lucky girl..I believe you have visited almost all places in the world and tried their delicious cuisine

  2. WOW, intriguing. I can't wait to see the rest of your sightseeing photos.

  3. Nava, you've beaten me again! I've yet to visit Istanbul cause my last few plans were disrupted because of the earthquakes there. Sigh!

  4. i so wish i had the guds to travel alone
    the mosque is beautiful
    Keep in touch

  5. Very interesting to read your experiences!

  6. o my God such a beautiful place of turkey ... wish i could be there.. so lovely clicks.. just drooling at every single shot u took

  7. I plan to go to Turkey next year so I will keep this beautiful post in mind :D
    There is so much history to experience and so little time!

    Choc Chip Uru

  8. Looks at the interior work , it is stunning.


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