Woolly says – Having already checked out the Turkish buffet breakfast and helped the kitchen in reducing the quantity of boiled eggs I hurried back upstairs to make sure the girls were up and moving. Thankfully even daughter Zoe was shuffling about and as I hustled them down to the reception desk we made it just in time for our tour of the day. Our coach delivered us safely to our first destination, the famous Blue Mosque. With cameras clicking we waited in line to enter, I covered myself appropriately before finding that I had a slight problem. We didn’t have the heart to tell Woolly that only head, shoulders and leg needed covering and then only if you’re female as he provided great entertainment for the growing crowd as he staggered round with a scarf across his whole head.
Woolly says – they are mean, very very mean. Completed in 1616 it’s the biggest Mosque of its kind with six minarets and a 43 metre dome, known as the Blue Mosque I wondered why it was white, why do people try and confuse Mammoths? Our helpful guide told us that the popular name actually came from the interior
décor and the blue tiles that adorn the walls. Clutching tightly to Jo we crossed the threshold and could only stand in awe and wonder at the spectacular decoration that greeted us. People were everywhere and as Woolly gripped on I tried to take as many shots as possible which didn’t involve heads, arms and other body parts, eventually we managed to get closer to the area where the Imam sits and were able to fully appreciate the wonderful building. With balconies for the women to prayer from and low lights hanging down from the dome it proved difficult to fully describe the lovely place that had been created here.
Woolly says – with our guide making signs that we needed to follow we obediently trotted behind him and back into the open air. A very short stroll bought us into the Hippodrome, oh oh Romans, chariots and possibly Hadrian how exciting. My excitement was however short lived as I gazed around to find cafes, seats and even more strangely two Obelisks, weren’t they Egyptian? Where were my Romans? Poor Woolly, sadly the wonderful building constructed in 203AD remains no more, the remaining monuments where
a bonus though. Emperor Thedodosius the Great bought one back in 390 AD and promptly named it after himself….
Woolly says – now that’s what I call an Emperor……
….Carved from the pink granite of Egypt it was originally erected at the Temple of Karnack in Luxor during the reign of Tuthmosis III in about 1490 BC. The second known as the Walled Obelisk
was originally covered with gilded bronze plaques, but they were taken by Latin troops in the Fourth Crusade leaving only what we can see today.
Woolly says – the big pointy things were pretty cool and having taken the obligatory pictures we trotted off behind our guide again to our next Istanbul Classic, Hagia Sophia. Unfortunately nothing remains of the original Hagia Sophia, which was built in the fourth century by Constantine the Great. A second was built by his son Constantius and Emperor Theodosius the Great, between 532 and 537, it is one of the greatest surviving examples of Byzantine architecture. Over the many years earthquake damage has resulted in rebuilding the main dome several times, surprisingly for Turkey they didn’t use concrete to hold it up. In 1204
the cathedral was attacked, desecrated and plundered by the Crusaders, despite this Hagia Sophia remained a functioning church until May 29, 1453, when Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror entered triumphantly into the city of Constantinople. He was amazed at the beauty of the Hagia Sophia and immediately converted it into his imperial mosque. Jo’s little eyes lit up as we entered the main area, with ceilings and the impressive dome covered in gold and beautiful patterns it wasn’t as flashy as the Blue Mosque but it somehow captured the heart more. Gazing upwards I could see three of the four angels (one is covered by scaffolding) and Jo explained that they had just uncovered one of the angels faces following the desecration and were now working on the next one, hence the building equipment, the other two still remain faceless but it would be lovely to see all four returned to their original beauty in the years to come. As we made our way to the balcony area we watched Jo go into raptures over the golden mosaics depicting Christ, actually they were pretty impressive even if I say so myself. Having finally moved Jo along we edged her gently out
of the beauty and back onto the coach for the short drive to the Grand Bazaar…… OH NO that means SHOPPING! Shopping it was but what a place to go with its painted arched roofs it felt as though we had been transported back in time and that Ali Barbar might well walk past us at any minute. With stalls of carpets, jewellery, antiques and other trinkets we hedged our way round the traders to try and cover the 4000 shops that the bazaar contains…..
Woolly says - $&%!£(MISSING) 4000 SHOPS, HELP, Mammoth in need of rescue! But then I spied it, my long time ultimate buy…… Our furry companion suddenly made a dash for it and as we raced after him I could only imagine the horrors that might meet our eyesof upturned stores in his search for snacks, instead there he sat with a contended look on his little grubby face and ….
Woolly says – A FEZ! I have a Woolly sized FEZ, my proudest moment has arrived but I am feeling a little peckish! A quick snack and I think I will be able
to honestly say that I’m the happiest Mammoth in the world. …. Proudly clutching his fez he contentedly munched away on his snack and even consented to a quick visit to the Spice market. With the shops plundered and our feet and paws aching we decided to take the short walk to the place that our lovely expat friends John and Gwen had mentioned to us, Suleymaniye Mosque built in 1557 and standing on one of the seven hills that Istanbul is constructed on. Clutching our map we tried to work out which way to go before a lovely young lady in blue asked if we needed help.
Woolly says – of course we needed help with Jo and Zoe trying to map read anyone would need help, as we climbed slowly up the hill the nice girl told me that she was a volunteer tour guide for the summer and that it was her first day, I told her that she was doing a great job and asked if she could advise me on the best places to get snacks but I don’t think she heard me. With lot of huffing and puffing
Jo eventually arrived at the top and as we purveyed the mosque in front of us and the view surrounding it we found we only had minutes to look inside the pretty domed area before the call to prayer. Content with having seen our third Mosque for the day and another one that had proved to be a treat we followed John and Gwen’s advice on having a cool refreshing drink on one of the roof terraced cafes overlooking the Bosphorus, the New and Old European side and the Asian side, all laid out below our bird’s eye view, lovely. As we sipped our lemonades and watched the boats crossing far below us we sighed with contentment at the wonders that this marvellous city has to offer. Sorry we have gone a little mad on the photo front but there is just so much to see.
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Stunning pic of the Blue Mosque Jo...best one I've seen of this magnificent mosque
High Praise from a Master craftsman
Thank you Dancing Dave, was pretty chuffed with this one to.
Ren & Andrew
Ah Istanbul. Sigh.
We love Istanbul very much! I hope they don't over-restore the Aya Sofya and remove all traces of the Islamic period - I loved seeing the different layers of different history. Looking forward to more of your adventures in Istanbul!
It's looking good so far
The restoration work is only on the angel faces at the moment so fingers crossed it should only improve not detract. We tried to pack in as much as we could in the three days but will need to go back as there is still so much more to see.
D MJ Binkley
Dave and Merry Jo Binkley
Thanks for capturing the architecture in such a way that we feel like we are there with you. Hopefully we will get there sooner than later.
The only problem is.....
We drove very near to it September last year so unless I head for Syria as a travel destination it will be off the list for a few years :( Can't believe we missed it!
We need to get planning your trip!