Two days in Istanbul for the last tour then start the next tour of 8 days in Turkey with two more days in Istanbul
Our next trip is around Turkey and then a Greek Island cruise to Athens.
Here it is.
Today, Thursday 25 September, we leave Bulgaria and continue to Istanbul, founded by the Greeks as Byzantium more than 2,500 years ago, renamed Constantinople in 330 AD when the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great selected it the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, and finally called Istanbul after the Ottoman conquest in the 15th century.
After a drive of 567km we reached Istanbul where we have two nights in Istanbul as part of this particular tour and then a further two nights in Istanbul as the start of the Tour around Turkey.
The border crossing at Bulgaria and then into Turkey took some time. Even with this we arrived at our hotel at 7.00pm.
Sea of Marmara
The outskirts of Istanbul - better roads in Turkey but loads more traffic. Istanbul has a population of over 12 million.
Housing in an outer suburb
Construction sites are everywhere.
View of the Golden Horn from our room at the Hilton
View from our room.
The Golden Horn in daylight
On Friday 26 September we had a city guided tour. First of all we visited Topkapi Palace. The Topkapı is a large palace in Istanbul, Turkey, that was the primary residence of the Ottoman sultans for approximately 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. The Topkapı Palace is among the monuments contained within the "Historic Areas of Istanbul", which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985.
The palace complex consists of four main courtyards and many smaller buildings. At its peak, the palace was home to as many as 4,000 people, and covered a large area with a long shoreline. It contained mosques, a hospital, bakeries, and a mint. Construction began in 1459, ordered by Sultan Mehmed II, the conqueror of Byzantine Constantinople. It was originally called the New Palace (Yeni Saray) to distinguish it from the previous residence. It received the name "Topkapı" (Cannon Gate) in the 19th century, after a (now lost) gate and shore pavilion. The complex was expanded over the centuries, with major renovations after the 1509 earthquake and the 1665 fire.
After the 17th century, the Topkapı Palace gradually lost its importance as the sultans preferred to spend more time in their new palaces along the Bosphorus. In 1856, Sultan Abdül Mecid I decided to move the court to the newly built Dolmabahçe Palace, the first European-style palace in the city. Some functions, such as the imperial treasury, the library, and the mint, were retained in the Topkapı Palace.
Following the end of the Ottoman Empire in 1923, Topkapı Palace was transformed by a government decree dated April 3, 1924, into a museum of the Imperial era.
Water fountain in the time of Ahmet 111.
Main gate into Topkapi Palace
Security at Topkapi
The Diwan -place where people meet with the Grand Vizier
Cupola in the Diwan
View of the Bosphorus from Topkapi
View of the Bosphorus from Topkapi
Leaving Topkapi Palace
Hagia Sophia is a former Greek Orthodox patriarchal basilica (church), later an imperial mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey. From the date of its construction in 537 until 1453, it served as an Eastern Orthodox cathedral and seat of the Patriarchate 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.
The Church was dedicated to the Wisdom of God, the Logos, the second person of the Holy Trinity, its patronal feast taking place on 25 December, the commemoration of the Birth of the incarnation of the Logos in Christ. Although sometimes referred to as Sancta Sophia (as though it were named after Saint Sophia), sophia being the phonetic spelling in Latin of the Greek word for wisdom. 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 Emperor Justinian 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 scientists Isidore of Miletus, a physicist, and Anthemius of Tralles, a mathematician.
The church contained a large collection of holy relics and featured, among other things, a 15-metre (49 ft) silver iconostasis. The focal point of the Eastern Orthodox Church for nearly one thousand years, the building witnessed the excommunication of Patriarch Michael I Cerularius on the part of Pope Leo IX in 1054, an act which is commonly considered the start of the Great Schism.
In 1453, Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks under Sultan Mehmed II, who ordered this main church of the Orthodox Christianity converted into a mosque. By this point, the Church had fallen into a state of disrepair. Nevertheless, the Christian cathedral made a strong impression on the new Ottoman rulers and they decided to convert it into a mosque. The bells, altar, iconostasis, and sacrificial vessels and other relics were removed and the mosaics depicting Jesus, his Mother Mary, Christian saints and angels were also removed or plastered over. Islamic features – such as the mihrab, minbar, and four minarets – were added. It remained a mosque until 1931 when it was closed to the public for four years. It was re-opened in 1935 as a museum by the Republic of Turkey.
From its initial conversion until the construction of the nearby larger Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque of Istanbul) in 1616, it was the principal mosque of Istanbul.
Entrance to Hagia Sofia
The great dome
Frescoes in Hagia Sofia
View from the upper storey of Hagia Sofia
Inside the Hagia Sofia
Street stalls near the cathedral
Turkish carpets are beautiful. This one is from East Anatolia, the eastern half of Turkey.
Here are some scenes around the Grand Bazaar.
Grand Bazaar built 1461
The whole Bazaar has many passages with tiny shops
Shops outside the Grand Bazaar
The Pudding Shop - Colleen introduced me to the phrase about "people have a pudding pocket" so they can eat dessert even when they are full.
View from the restaurant on top of our hotel
The Sultan Ahmed Mosque is a historic mosque in Istanbul. The mosque is popularly known as the Blue Mosque for the blue tiles adorning the walls of its interior.
It was built from 1609 to 1616, during the rule of Ahmed I. Its Külliye contains a tomb of the founder, a madrasah and a hospice. The Sultan Ahmed Mosque is still popularly used as a mosque.
The Blue Mosque
This obelisk is from the Temple of Karnak in Egypt and is more than 4 500 years old
The base of the Obelisk
The Million Mile Marker
The Million Mile marker
The Basilica Cistern is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city of Istanbul. The cistern, located 150 metres southwest of the Hagia Sophia on the historical peninsula of Sarayburnu, was built in the 6th century during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I.
This cathedral-size cistern is an underground chamber approximately 138 metres by 64.6 metres - about 9,800 square metres in area - capable of holding 80,000 cubic metres or 100 000 tonnes of water. The ceiling is supported by a forest of 336 marble columns, each 9 metres high, arranged in 12 rows of 28 columns each spaced 4.9 metres apart. The capitals of the columns are mainly Ionic and Corinthian styles, with the exception of a few Doric style with no engravings.
Inside the Basilica Cistern
Many different columns
This Medusa column is built upside down
As we left the Blue Mosque, we took this photo of the Hagia Sofia through the gate
Last view of Istanbul. This is the Bosphorus with its very busy shipping between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea
In the morning we visit the Grand Bazaar the travel across to the continent of Europe to travel down along the Sea of Marmara and then down to Gallipoli. Were are really looking forwarding to visiting Gallipoli and Lone Pine in the afternoon.