First step of each day in Turkey was always layering. We got used to not only wearing our thermals, but donning multiple layers to go outside, and then removing some of them whenever we entered a building. I’m sure it’s not an unusual concept for people used to living in cold countries, but for us warm little Brisbanites it’s certainly taken some getting used to!
Here’s Tom all dressed up in his thermals, with an added flair of money belt. Just as well he added more layers on top of that, huh?
Speaking of clothing, we discovered that the Turks are much more realistic with their mannequin sizing. Tom thought this guy was hilarious.
First place on the agenda for us was the Grand Bazaar, which we had tried to go to on our first night in Istanbul without success. The ceilings were fabulous.
And the place itself was massive.
Guess who we ran into?
It’s Louis! See more about him here.
Tom couldn’t resist the opportunity to use the facilities.
These kinds of light shops are all over Istanbul. I’m so in love. Tom had to tear me away from them many times, muttering something about space and luggage and three-months worth of souvenirs. Very sad. They’re so lovely.
And how about these ones! OMG. So in love!!!!!!
I did manage to get a couple of things (slightly easier to transport in a suitcase things), but will talk about those later.
Once Tom dragged me away from the lights, we resumed our walk down the giant aisles.
The next major event was a visit to the giant Blue Mosque, named thusly because of the many many blue tiles that adorn its interior.
Even the gardens at the mosque were exhibiting tulips as part of the festival.
Here’s the front of the Blue Mosque.
The practising muslims wash their hands, elbows, feet, face and ears before entering the mosque. Tom couldn’t resist testing it out.
One of the six minarets. The number of minarets indicates the importance of the person for whom the mosque was built. This mosque was built for Sultan Ahmet. Reckon he was compensating for something?
The ornate alcove above this door amazes me.
This is the square on one end within the external walls of the mosque, that you can walk through to reach the back of the mosque itself. If that makes any sense.
This is an example of the ceiling along the verandah (for want of a better word) along the other side of the mosque.
This is the image that hits you when you walk into the mosque. Incredible, huh?
The columns holding up that giant dome are absolutely massive. Here is Tom kindly demonstrating the width.
More of the arches and ceilings.
This is the main focal point of the mosque. The big ring at the bottom of the picture is a giant round suspended chandelier. It’s pretty spectacular.
The archways with alternating coloured stones are lovely.
They obviously had some very good stonemasons.
Here I am putting my shoes back on afterward.
The square outside the mosque used to be a Roman hippodrome apparently. It’s huge. And this statue that they apparently got from Egypt??
I couldn’t resist snapping more pretty buildings.
Tom found a book about Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who we’ve both developed a great deal of respect for after our Anzac battlefield tour.
The museum had very very very old, and very very very giant rugs.
Tom decided to make use of the very fancy Koran stands to figure out our next destination.
We had a lovely view across the square towards the Blue Mosque again.
Quick stopover to take a picture of tulips and a fountain…
And one for Tom to smell the…tulips.
Next destination, Hagia Sofia Museum.
First off, we had to marvel at the massive width of the doors.
And then the massive height of other doors...
This building pre-dates the Blue Mosque by hundreds of years. It was first built as a church, and stayed that way for a really long time. Then, when Istanbul (then Constantinople) fell to the Ottomans who were muslims, it was converted to a mosque. The Christian mosaics and frescoes were painted over, and the altar moved slightly so that it would face Mecca. It now functions solely as a museum, and makes for a very interesting building.
It’s a gorgeous building.
How amazing are these archways?
This photo shows the off-centre altar thing.
Here is a Christian mosaic that was covered over.
This is how you could get from floor to floor.
Outside the museum is an enclosed fountain, for more pre-prayer washing.
The ceiling is incredible.
Tom has decided that Istanbul is his favourite city. Considering it’s only the second one we’ve visited this trip so far, I imagine he may change his mind, but it’s definitely pretty incredible!