Sunday, April 1, 2007

Turkey - Istanbul

I could say I almost died going to Istanbul. Well, I did say I'd go to Istanbul even if it kills me and it did almost happen. I suppose as no fault of my own, I found myself sitting on a bus for 15 hours just to get to this city of my dreams.
Even almost dying was quite worthwhile. When I landed myself in front of Sultanamet...I was overjoyed. All the perilous journey forgotten. It really didn't matter as I walked in, with my head covered into the mosque, feeling equally awed by these mosques as the cathedrals I've seen.
I guess it is a priviledge to actually be able to see inside these structures. As tourists and guests of the mosque, I actually felt more freedom as I wandered and was able to see all, but not be completely part of it.
I have become more and more fascinated by the doorways of old. I don't know, something about the intricate designs...imagine paying such detailed attention even to the doors.
Sultanamet, the doors
So Hagia Sofia I had studied and read about in my Medieval art class...which I had taken many many years ago. I had then not known much about the mosques and thought Hagia Sofia one of the greatest thing on earth, but if I had seen Sultanamet before it, I probably would have been slightly disappointed.
Hagia Sopfia
Hagia Sofia wasn't completely disappointing. It does somehow combine best of east and west, somehow the blend of religion and culture seem to work well.
Hagia Sofia
It is rather incredible to see Byzantine mosaics and Islamic writings all in one place. No matter what, I tells us the wonders of the history...the changes, yet architecture still stands.
Hagia Sofia
The seat of the Ottoman power...I had so wanted to see Harem, but it was closed during that day. The palace was full of beautiful artifacts.

Topkapi Palace
I found myself wandering the streets alone...quite a lot. Especially in the mornings, the picture taking opportunity was incredible. I loved the intricately designed doorways, fountains, windows...every few blocks, I'd find some random architecture I couldn't help but take picture of.
Istanbul street
Suleyman mosque was really massive. I passed through the university, climbed a small hill and saw massive mosque. It was worth a hike. It is certainly one of the most massive and beautiful mosque. 
Unlike other places I visited, I did not know much history of Suleyman mosque. I did know Ottoman empire history, but I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the sign of the tomb of Suleyman the magnificent.
I am not sure, but I certainly was in awe as I walked into the tomb of Suleyman. I thought I'd feel something, but I am not sure...I didn't feel anyone's presence there. It certainly was a privilege to see it. I had not planned on that. 
Tomb of Suleyman the Magnificent
Another doorway. Who passed through there? I wish I knew...
Suleymani doorway
Suleymani ceiling
Suleyman mosque had one of the most well preserved carvings, colors, the ceilings. My neck started to get a crimp as I found myself constantly looking up.   Another beautiful ceiling.     
Suleymani ceiling
My hotel was right near Sultanamet. I thought to look through the SUltanamet through one of the iron wrought gates. Perhaps this is how some people of olden days were only able to see Sultanamet?
Turkish bath...definitely worth it. Be prepared to at least spend couple hours there. It is good to pamper. Being able to walk into 300 year old bath is unlike any experience I ever had.
The eggplant dishes were my favorite. I suppose I loved all the salads and puffy bread too. Apple tea is a must!  
Istanbul fare
I walked into this completely by accident. This is underground cistern for really old days. There were fresh water still there with some fishes underground Istanbul!
Underground cistern
Another Suleyman mosque inside. I wanted to sit and enjoy, but there were so much to see and walk to!  
Suleyman mosque
Books about Istanbul:

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