Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Where Sultans once walked


We finally made it back home from Istanbul!  It was pretty amazing to be able to walk where Roman emperors and Ottoman sultans once roamed.  A place that at one time, was even declared to be the New Rome and the capital of the Roman Empire. 

I have so much I want to share with you!  For me, the most fascinating and remarkable sites were in Old Town around the Hippodrome, a long, narrow park-like square which was once a Roman chariot racetrack.   I'll try to give you a brief overview of each site, but believe me, there is so much more that could be told!

The Egyptian Obelisk & the Column of Constantine

The Obelisk was carved 1,500 years before the birth of Christ to honor Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmose III and was brought here on the Upper Nile in the 4th century A.D.  It was a huge piece of construction with only the upper third of the original now being viewed.

Behind the Obelisk in the photo is the Column of Constantine that was built in the 4th century A.D. 

The Blue Mosque

My favorite of all the sites was The Blue Mosque.  With its 6 minarets, it is named for the rich blue color of the handmade ceramic tiles.  It was built in the 17th century by Sultan Ahmet to rival Hagia Sophia (which comes later in this post).  The enormous central dome can fit Paris' Notre-Dame Cathedral or the Statue of Liberty minus the torch.  Many of the floral designed stained glass windows are original.

This was the pinnacle of Ottoman architecture and marked the beginning of the empire's decline.  
It is still used as a mosque today.













Topkapi Palace

The Topkapi Palace, with its many pavilions, courtyards and 16th century kitchens, was built on the remains of ancient Byzantium.  Not only was it the residence of many great sultans but it served as the administrative palace.  The rich colorful detail took my breath away.











Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia has been called the greatest house of worship in the Christian and Muslim worlds.  Built in 537 A.D (!)  it was the single greatest achievement of the Byzantine Empire with its mosaics and beautiful fine marble.  First a church, then a mosque, it now serves as a museum.  Take a look at the marble in this place.  Just gorgeous and some of those pieces are huge!








Underground Cistern

The underground cistern was built in the 6th century A.D. to store water for the city.  It is the size of two football fields and once held 27 million gallons of water.  336 recycled Roman columns support the brick ceiling.  A walkway has been built above the foot high water which these days is the home of various fish which help keep the water clean.


Hope I haven't bored you yet with a little of Istanbul's history.
These pictures can not adequately illustrate the
richness of this remarkable place.

Over the next few days, I'll share some of our other
adventures!

And in the meantime, I hope to catch up with all of you
and see what you have been up to!

Later, my friends!


35 comments:

Country Girl said...

Oh, how glorious! The colors, the exquisite architecture, the rich history of this place - it's all so wonderful to read. Bored us? Are you freaking kidding? This is great! More - more . . . xoxo

Welcome home, my friend. I bet your birdies missed you.

Brian Miller said...

oh wow...what rich architecture and decor...and history...what a treat to be able to see it all as well...lovely pics...

Lisa Gordon said...

Welcome home Reena!
What a trip this must have been.
Your photographs are just beautiful.

TexWisGirl said...

totally imposing in its age, size, ornateness, and history.

Sylvia K said...

Oh, Reena! What an awesome, gorgeous place and so much incredible history! Your photos are breathtaking! I would love to be able to travel there, your captures are the next best thing! Like you, I find the rich colors and the amazing detail superb! Thank you so much for taking us along through your camera! I'm really looking forward to seeing more.

Sylvia

Sinbad and I on the Loose said...

Over the top, just in viewing your pictures. Seeing it in real life would be overwhelming.

bill lisleman said...

Mosaics are beautiful to behold. I help but think of the hours put into making them. Water systems of the 6th century very interesting. I enjoyed the facts/history but mostly the pictures.

Ivanhoe said...

Oh so pretty and colorful! Wish I was there with you :)

gina said...

Beautiful images of such a fascinating place! I love the mosaics, the colors, the richness of the designs. Thanks for giving us these lovely glimpses.

Lois Evensen said...

Oh, no, not bored at all! I am so enjoying all of your images. They are wonderful!

GailO said...

This is a place that I would absolutely love to get to some day! Thank you so much for sharing your visit with us...I could never get bored:) So much to see and everything is so rich it must be difficult to take it all in...

Now I want to hear about the food you had there:)

~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

Reena, I am not bored at all--I am in awe of the beauty and history and even learned a few things by your post. Simply amazing and just breathtaking and inspiring. Your photos are also just as stunning--I would have found it hard to pick a favorite to post, they are also amazing! Wow....

Kathy said...

Bored? You must be joking! I would have been in sensory overload. I have a friend who, like you, has traveled many, many places and Turkey is her favorite. I was surprised when I first heard that but now I'm understanding a bit!

Gail Dixon (Louisiana Belle) said...

Are you kidding? I was looking at the photos saying to myself, "If the photos are this beautiful the real thing must take your breath away!" Wowzah!

Daniel LaFrance said...

I applaud your adventurist spirit. The photo's and write-up are a delight.

It remind me of when my Dad in his 70's travelled to Tunisia and was astonished that the roads he walked upon were constructed by the Romans.

Ginny said...

BORED ME??? ARE YOU KIDDING??? The gold...the blue...the angles...you said it right, it does take my breath away!!! ALL wonderful!! And I also learned a lot.

Ginny said...

When you go to all these fabulous exotic places, how can you be interested in anyone else's blog??

Barbara said...

Reena, what an experience. Thank you so much for sharing it! The age and history of those places just boggles my mind - and the beauty! Oh my!

Ross said...

All I can say is wow! The pictures are amazing and the trip sounds like it was fantastic. The pictures you could take seem endless! The history sounds incredible to.

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Wayne (Woody), whatever said...

Wow, the trip of a lifetime!! So much to take in, the vibrant tile colors are amazing. So how many memory cards did you fill? ;-)

Daryl Edelstein said...

Amazing .. such glorious textures, colors .. I bet it was a little overwhelming .. such great shots, Reena, thank you for sharing possibly the only way I'd ever get to Istanbul

Linda R said...

WOW! Your photos are lovely. If you were to ask me if I wanted to go to Istanbul I would have probably said no.. But now I am having second thought. It truly looks like an amazing place to visit. Not that I will ever have the chance to go there.
Thanks so much for sharing you photos with us.. They are fabulous..

Hugs~

islandwonder said...

So ornate and so full of history! Wonderful!!

Kathryn said...

Wow, looks like an incredible place with so much beautiful architecture and history. I bet your head is spinning from all that saw. Gorgeous.

CherryPie said...

Wow!! It looks an amazing place, thank you for sharing it :-)

S. Etole said...

It's almost beyond comprehension in its detail and size. Looking forward to hearing and seeing more.

Sharkbytes said...

Hard to imagine places that old that took such engineering!

Lisa RedWillow said...

Reena you have been to a place I dream of seeing. Thank you for taking me away to the wonders of this Amazing country. Gorgeous and stunning. Im sure you have to be a changed person to see all of this and capture it bringing it all home and that much closer to you.
I loved this blog. Took my breath Away.

Pat said...

What an amazing experience to walk where so much history has been made. Your photos are absolutely gorgeous - so grateful that you shared them.

rainfield61 said...

Yes, seeing it in real life would be overwhelming.

But you pictures are very good indeed.

Nancy Claeys said...

Reena, your photos are almost too much for me to take in -- in one visit. Such rich textures and color -- you must have been in photography heaven. xoxo

Betty Manousos said...

what a trip this must have been!
amazing shots!

welcome home!

xo

My Journey With Candida said...

Thanks for the GREAT tour Reena. I don't have to go there now because it seems I was right there with you.

julochka said...

oh, the basilica cistern! it's so wonderfully spooky - i love the lighting and music they play, and it's always a delicious escape to coolness from the heat of istanbul above. i think it's my favorite spot in istanbul.