Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Crossroads of the World - Day 4

Blue Mosque

Istanbul                                                                         Turkey

Sunday 12th October 2014

I was yet again woken up to the early sound of the call to prayer singing out from the minarets. I was starting to get used to the sounds around me though so it did not bother me. A nice shower woke me up more and helped me focus on where to go and what to do. My first priority was of course finding a bank to get my funds out because of last nights incident. So I packed up my essentials and headed out to the West in order to find the bank. As it was a Sunday, I knew that the majority of the shops would be closed. I was freaked out though by the fact that it was like a ghost town with large areas of closed shops with nobody in sight. A very long time passed still heading west before finally catching my eyes on the bank I needed. I felt relieved as I managed to get my money out knowing the amount I had could help me throughout the rest of my stay here. I decided to head east back along the tramlines towards the Sultanahmet square so I could purchase a museum pass to visit the big attractions without paying full price or wait in ridiculously long queues. I located the museum pass van and I purchased a 72 hour museum pass making use of it straight away. The Hagia Sofia lay ahead of me and I was really excited to be inside this wonderful place. 

Entrance to Hagia Sofia

I entered through a very large doorway along with hundreds of people and arrived in a very large corridor which was impressive but nothing compared to when I entered the main room. I was completely gobsmacked with the immense size of an empty shell of the room. It was absolutely awe-inspiring to look at all the architecture and how bright and sparkling parts of the room were. Yet again the ceiling was covered in floral patterns and yellow backgrounds. There were dozens of chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and most of the walls had hints of gold shining the room and large dark green marble pillars surrounding the edges and the upper floors. The cherry on the cake though were the very large circular discs hanging on the walls with huge Arabic writing of gold and black colours. It was exceptional to be here amongst its wonders and history. I headed to the upper floor to have a look at the building from a higher vantage point. 

Hagia Sofia
Hagia Sofia
Hagia Sofia

It was fantastic to see a better view at the top and as I walked around the upper level I came across another marvel of the museum known as the ‘Deesis mosaic’ which depicts Christ with the Virgin Mary on his left and John the Baptist on his right. The small golden tiles glimmered from the light beaming through the window which made it look dazzling. It made me wonder what a very beautiful building it must have been at its prime too. I left the Hagia Sofia full of happiness with what I had seen heading for my next destination. 

Mosaic Art in Hagia Sofia

After a very quick bite to eat I headed to my next destination of the famous Topkapi palace. I passed the large queues yet again and passed through the security scanners and arrived in the second large courtyard. The second courtyard was tremendous, trees scattered around with paths forking away in different directions from the centre. The outer edges of the area were covered with large thin pillars with a Turkish style roof and at my front left was the familiar site of the tower where the Harem was located; so this was my first area to visit. I eventually entered the Harem and was immediately impressed with all the colourful mosaic art surrounding the walls with a unique cobble design at the centre line of the pathway. 

Topkapi Palace Courtyard
Arabic Writing along Palace Walls
Cobbled Pathway

As I exited the Harem I realised I entered into the third courtyard which was a lot more compact but that bit more beautiful as at its centre lay a very small water fountain with red roses surrounding it. I decided to go into the fourth courtyard and turned to my right. I was welcomed by a marvellous sight of the Bosphorous and the Asian side of Istanbul. It was truly fantastic and I sat in peace for a moment admiring the breathtaking view before heading to the opposite side of the courtyard. I arrived to the sight of a very large marble pool with a lovely designed fountain and a small balcony area which made it all unique finishing off with golden patterns. 

Third Courtyard
Third Courtyard

Baghdad Pavilion

I walked to the edge of the Baghdad pavilion and stopped to witness the most astonishing view of the golden horn with the Galata tower on the right and the mosques on the left with the golden spires shining clear as day in the sunlight. I could not have stood there a better time too as the call to prayer was voiced over the entire city which was absolutely brilliant to hear and where I was standing made it that bit more special; it was definitely a once in a lifetime moment. 

View of Golden Horn

My next area to visit was the Topkapi museum which had quite a large queue but I eventually entered inside to see some fascinating artefacts and mosaic arts yet again. As I got deeper into the museum, the more beautiful it was becoming. I passed a man who was speaking through a microphone the words from the Quran which was a nice sight of its own. I seen everything I wanted to see in Topkapi palace and it was everything I dreamt of seeing especially the marvellous view of the golden horn area. Yet again I left with happiness and then focused on my next museum visit. The archaeological museum was very close so I decided to head into there. There was a small queue but I didn’t need to join it as I got straight in thanks to my pass. I had a great look around and was amazed by the artefacts and carvings of ancient items and scriptures carved into stone. Time passed admiring the museum before I decided to take my leave. I headed back to the Sultanahmet square to admire the surrounding area before I headed for a café to get my tea; I just had a mixed meat and cheese toasty, Baklava and Turkish tea as I was saving money. After a most lovely bite to eat I noticed there was a market right next to me so I had a look down through it. I realised that it was the Arasta bazaar which looked fine but nothing compared to the Grand bazaar. It still had a lot of unique shops though selling modern art, old art, Turkish trinkets and sweets. 

Arasta Bazaar

I wanted to take a stroll down to the golden horn so I followed the route alongside the tramlines which definitely made a great guide for getting around the old city with ease as I arrived at the docks with thousands of people doing the same thing. I watched the hundreds of fisherman flying their rods into the golden horn in the hopes for a good fish. Also I was watching the many people getting on and off the ferries from different districts and also Bosphorous tours which I wanted to experience some time. I decided to walk along the underpass area along the Galata Bridge which was filled with fish restaurants. Because of all the restaurants and the fisherman above with their rods poking out the side, there was a very strong smell of fish in the air; no surprise there. I stood at the middle part of the bridge watching dozens of ferries and boats setting off, mooring up and passing each other with hard turns with the amazing view of the Bosphorous and Asia in the distance feeling at peace. 

View of Bosphorous
Galata Bridge
Ferry to Different Districts

By now my legs started to strain with the miles of walking I had done so I made the decision to head to the Blue mosque and sit for a while in the courtyard. No sooner than I sat down the call to prayer sang across the air yet again but as I was right next to it, it was very loud and beaming which gave me a weird but great feeling about where I was. I then decided to return to my apartment earlier than usual just to relax for yet another big day of sightseeing the next day. I did however spend the majority of my time relaxing on my terrace closing my eyes and focusing on the sounds of Istanbul. To finish it off the call to prayer bellowed out as the sun was beginning to set providing a most beautiful scene of peace. 

End to a Perfect Day
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