Sunday, July 13, 2008

From Blue to Gold

The second part of Old Town is the historical core. It contains the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia and the Topkapi Palace. The area i'm staying in has a large contingent of foreigners, mostly because the international school is here. I ended up teaming up with a Dutch girl called Roline who is visiting her family. As we are the same age and have cousins who are all much younger than us, and believe anything over 20 yrs is old and crumbly, we have ventured forth in a campaign to see as much as possible in our short time here.

We started at the Blue Mosque and managed to time it to before prayer time and looked around. The interior is beautifully done in blue tiles of various designs. The place has a serenity about it that instantly calms you. I wish I understood the arabic all over the walls because its beautifully inscribed on the walls.

Next on the trip was the Hagia Sophia. It costs 10 ytl(approx R65) to get in including the upper galleries. The place was once a church that was taken over by the Ottomans in the 1400s and turned into a mosque. They whitewashed over the walls and when the government started renovations started in the 1940s they found all the original artwork and mosaics on the walls preserved under the white. Its large, very large, but undergoing renovation in the main chamber.

The last stop on this whirlwind day was the Topkapi Palace (10 ytl). The Harem is extra and we didn't have time to go round it as well. The council chambers and meeting rooms are overlaid in gold and is an ostentatious show. The palace continues on this vain throughout. Photography is not allowed in most rooms and there are guards who hover over you as you move through the holy items rooms. The view from the palace grounds however are spectacular, looking over both the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara.

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