I can’t say enough about Istanbul. It’s definitely East meets West in every way. My favorite site was the Blue Mosque. It’s so beautiful inside and out. I love how the building changes at different times of the day.
The interior of the mosque is a beautiful prayer hall adorned with beautiful blue tiles and at night.
I have always wanted to see the interior of the Hagia Sophia. It’s a beautiful architectural wonder and it did not disappoint. Currently it’s a museum but there is talk that it might become a mosque again. There are 8 Arabic calligraphic roundels, huge circular wooden panels that bears the names of Allah, Mohammed, and his grandsons; Hasan & Hussein, and four caliphates. I think it’s interesting that Islam keep faces sacred and never display an image of any prophet – it’s forbidden.
Topkapi Palace is definitely a half-day activity and it can take you more than 3 hours to see it all so I highly recommend you spare some times for your visit.
Within the Topkapi Palace Museum, you will find all sorts of beautiful historical architecture spread out in several courtyards and many artifact collections as well as exhibition halls. The are the perfect example of the culture of the Ottoman Empire. This place is massive with 4 huge courtyards full of attractions and museums for you to visit. Make sure you pay extra and see the Harem Quarters.
This was the Sultan’s Turkish bath open and behind gates where he could be protected.
The Grand Bazaar is GRAND and a great place to stroll around and get the feel of what it is like to be in a middle-eastern spice market. It is one of the largest covered markets in the world covering 61 streets and has over 4000 shops inside. Beware if you show any interest in an item the shopkeepers won’t give up until they back a sale. They’ll follow you and keep bargaining. But it’s all a fun experience.
Upon arrival at the Chora Museum, I wondered if we were in the right place, as it didn’t seem like anything special or spectacular could be up at the top of this neighborhood hill. But inside the it didn’t disappoint. It is known as the Chora Museum, the Kariye Mosque, or the Church of the Holy Savior in Chora. This is a medieval Greek Orthodox Christian church. It was built in the 4th century as a chapel and completes the religious history of Istanbul.
This was the end of our Cruise and it was an experience in Religion and Architecture and a chance to explore the ancient & modern heritage.