Blogs from Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Marmara, Turkey, Middle East


Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul » Sultanahmet May 24th 2019

The Blue Mosque is blue because of the hand painted, blue tiles (over 20,000) on the interior walls. Built in 1606 to 1616, during the rule of Ahmet I, this Ottoman mosque contains his tomb, a madrasa (educational institution), and a hospice. Still used as a mosque, the Sultanahmet Camii (Turkish for Blue Mosque) is a popular tourist attraction here in Istanbul. But it is closed in ninety minute segments during the five daily prayers for worshippers. Mid morning is the best time to arrive. One noticeable difference from the Hagia Sophia is the four "elephant foot' pillars. It has a central dome, flanked by four semi-domes, making it nearly square in shape. The mosque was designed as an imperial show of strength to complement the Hagia Sophia across Sultanahmet Square. It also has six minarets, ... read more
Blue Mosque
Beautiful blue tiles
View of the Blue Mosque

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul » Sultanahmet May 20th 2019

President Erdogan is opening what he claims will eventually become the world's largest air transport hub on the 95th anniversary of Turkey's establishment as a republic. It's a symbolic launch, as only limited flights will begin days later and a full move won't take place until the end of the year. Tens of thousands of workers have been scrambling to finish the airport to meet Erdogan's Oct. 29 deadline. Protests in September over poor working conditions and dozens of construction deaths have highlighted the human cost of the project. Istanbul New Airport, on shores of the Black Sea, will serve 90 million passengers annually in its first phase. At its completion in ten years, it will occupy nearly 19,000 acres and serve up to 200 million travelers a year with six runways. That's almost double the ... read more
Pretty snazzy!
Istanbul will continue to grow!

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul » Sultanahmet September 4th 2018

Turkey, December 2012 - January 2013 Day 1 We have arrived, probably yesterday evening? I’m writing this based on my handwritten notes in 2018, five years later so… The first full day goes by wandering around Old Town, hoods of Sultan Ahmed mosque or Blue Mosque as it’s also known as. This area is quite touristy but necessary to appreciate the heritage and history. We end up visiting Blue Mosque twice because the visiting hours are unknown to us. Suppose checking timetables prior to visiting wouldn’t be such a bad idea. It is closed for prayers in between as it is still functioning as a mosque and not just as a tourist attraction. It has continued serving as a mosque from the beginning of 17th century. Details and the building itself is fascinating. Hagia Sofia is ... read more
pamukkale limestone 2
pamukkale guard

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul » Sultanahmet May 18th 2018

Arriving back from Egypt meant a trip to the cinema with the Movie group we have all been waiting for the release of Infinity Wars which in my opinion was brilliant. A few days later we went out for after work drinks, I don’t do it often because it is expense here, I left early because I am going kayaking in the morning. I left early the next morning picking Chris, Rina and Arthur up as we made our way to Abu Dhabi’s Mangroves National Park. Today we would Kayak about seven kilometres through the mangrove canals and it is damn hot for early May. I love kayaking and the others seemed to enjoy paddling through the park as much as I did, a bit more wildlife would have been good though. A few days later ... read more
City wall
City wall

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul » Sultanahmet June 6th 2016

Today is the first day of Ramadan, when observant Muslims don't eat or drink anything between sunrise and sunset. I found out that this rule doesn't apply to the local stray dogs when I encountered a few on top of the old city walls and one of them gave me a nip on the ankle. This led to an interesting involvement with the Turkish health service. The first hospital I went to doesn't give rabies shots. You may also find this surprising, given that the city is full of stray dogs and cats. They sent me to another hospital where I joined the locals in pressing myself forward for service, despite their attempt to assign numbers to each patient. I eventually got a jab and went to a pharmacy for two kinds of antibiotics. My system ... read more

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul » Sultanahmet June 4th 2016

I think that Istanbul has as good a claim to be an Eternal City as Rome has - perhaps even better, since Istanbul has been an important city continuously since Constantine chose it has the capital of the Roman Empire in the 4th century, thus driving Rome into decline for centuries. One really visible sign of this continuity is Aya Sofya, the huge Byzantine church built in the 6th century which was preserved virtually intact over the ages because when Moslems captured the city they converted it to a mosque. No building in Rome from that time survives (with one exception) because they were all used as stone quarries by mediaeval peasants. (The exception is the Pantheon which survived because it was made of non-reusable concrete!) I walked around the old core of the city quite ... read more

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul » Sultanahmet April 30th 2016

Saturday: Sadly we were kept up by a baby crying until 12:30 AM. Sleep was fitful so John got up and went for a sunrise walk down to the ferry terminal at Eminonu. He saw the first cruise ship we have sighted. Our host at the hotel tells us that the norm is two or three ships a day but many of the big cruise lines have cancelled Istanbul as a port-of-call altogether! Shocking. After a warming breakfast and conversation with the hotel’s owner, Mehmet, we rested before meeting friends Aggie and Roger and going to the famous Chora Church with its unsurpassed mosaics. We ogled them for an hour or more, running into Carol, Steve and Connie from the Asian Art Museum. The five of them are on their way tomorrow to Iran for a ... read more

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul » Sultanahmet April 29th 2016

Friday: Our next door neighbor at the hotel had a small child who cried when they returned from dinner at 11:00 PM, so we did not sleep too well. Up for a great breakfast on the rooftop and a long conversation with the owner of the hotel. A very intelligent and quick individual who understands the economy and has done well in a HUGE downturn due to terror fears amongst tourist nations. He noted that he dropped his prices (we benefited tremendously) while other hotels kept their summer season price structure. The result is 80% occupancy for this hotel and 20% for many others, with a norm of around 80-90% in other years. Very sad. We saw the results of the downturn in tourism everywhere, with no lines at the Aya Sofia or crowds at the ... read more

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul » Sultanahmet April 28th 2016

Thursday: John got up early – 5:30 – and went for a walk down to the Eminonu ferry terminal area to take pictures of the sun coming up on the Bosphorus. It was a little like a salmon going upstream as everyone was coming the other way to their work (the Grand Bazaar opens at 8:00 AM). What a glorious day it was, not a cloud in the sky and everything right with our world. Not that everything was right, as there was a bombing on Wednesday in Bursa, about three hours by ferry and car from Istanbul. Sadly the bombing was at their magnificent mosque but only the bomber was killed. John ended up have a couple of interesting conversations with shopkeepers and folks at the hotel about the impact these bombings are having on ... read more

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