Travel to Turkey

Day 7 Istanbul (Topkapi, Hagia Sophia, Blue mosque)

Turkey


 

Istanbul:We started the tour of the city by the Suleymaniye Mosque (Süleymaniye), built between 1550 and 1557 by Sinan, the most famous Ottoman architect, commissioned by Sultan Suleiman. The mosque has six minarets. The yard is surrounded by a portico of 30 domes. Suleiman´s tomb is located in a cemetery placed in the grounds of the own mosque.

Istanbul - Suleymaniye Mosque
Istanbul - Suleymaniye Mosque

The Topkapi Palace was built as the official residence of the sultans after the conquest of Constantinople. In later periods sultans enriched and expanded the palace with new constructions until the nineteenth century. Today is the most visited museum in Turkey and you can visit its rooms, including the harem where they lived over a thousand concubines. The palace has one of the richest collections in the world. In its archives they are documented 65,000 pieces but only ten percent of this collection is exposed for lack of space. It includes thrones, jewelry (with the famous Topkapi diamond and dagger of emeralds), ceramics, etc. Also highlights sacred objects as the most venerated relics of Muhammad, such as his mantle and sword, as well as personal belongings of the prophet. Alongside them and for 24 hours a day, a holy man sings passages from the Koran. The entire area of the palace is surrounded by a wall five kilometers perimeter.

Istanbul - Topkapi Palace
Istanbul - Topkapi Palace

Hagia Sophia is considered the largest and most sacred work of the Byzantine era. Aya Sofia was used as a church for 916 years, since its construction in 537 until the day of the conquest of Istanbul in 1453. From then until 1934, for 481 years, it was used as a mosque, when were added their four minarets. After spending a full restoration by order of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the Turkish Republic, in February 1935, it was opened as a museum which highlights the rich Muslim elements on the ground floor and its famous Byzantine mosaics on the top floor.

Istanbul - Hagia Sophia
Istanbul - Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia is of great importance in the history of architecture as the first square base building of this size that is covered by a central dome and two smaller half-domes. Nowadays Hagia Sophia is the fourth church that has the world´s largest indoor area after saint Paul´s cathedral, Saint Peter´s Basilica in Rome and the Duomo in Milan.

Istanbul - Hagia Sophia
Istanbul - Hagia Sophia

The Blue Mosque or Sultan Ahmet Mosque was built during the reign of Ahmet I, between 1603-1617. It is the largest and most magnificent mosque in Istanbul. It owes its name to the 21,043 blue tiles that decorate its interior. Its floor is covered with carpets of hundreds of meters and from the roof hang thousands of oil lamps brought from abroad.

Istanbul - Blue Mosque
Istanbul - Blue Mosque

The site chosen for the construction of the mosque was near Topkapi Palace and highlights the care they put into choosing building materials and decoration of the mosque. The tiles were made in the workshops of the palace and the carpets woven in the imperial looms. It also highlights the fact that the mosque has six minarets.

Istanbul - Blue Mosque
Istanbul - Blue Mosque

The Roman Hippodrome was built in the time of Septimius Severus (200 AD) and enlarged by the founder of the city, Constantine the Great. It was the center of the civil activities, but mainly worked as a sports center (chariot races and circuses) for over a thousand years. The Spina was adorned by a line of statues, obelisks and columns. Currently you can find three of them, the Egyptian obelisk (erected by Theodosius in 390), serpent column (Three snakes bound in the form of a column, was brought by Constantine the Great from the Temple of Apollo at Delphi) and the Column of Constantine.

Istanbul - Obelisk of Theodosius Istanbul - Serpent column Istanbul - Yerebatan cistern
Istanbul - Obelisk of Theodosius, serpent column and Yerebatan cistern

Yerebatan cistern or Basilica cistern,the largest of the cisterns of Istanbul during the Byzantine era, was built in 532 and was the place where deposited the water brought through the Valens Aqueduct. It was used until the fourteenth century and restored in the mid-nineteenth century.It has 336 roman columns spread over 12 rows of 28 and located at 4 meters from each other. It is 8 meters high and has a capacity of approximately 80,000 cubic meters. Classical music and a light show completed its mystical atmosphere.


 

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