Friday, April 16, 2010

TURKEY - ISTANBUL: SULTANAHMET AND EMINÖNÜ


After nine days in Turkey, six of them in Istanbul, I must admit that Istanbul has surprised me. Istanbul is a really lively and warm city with an special charm. There are always a lot of people walking along its streets, which made me feel quite comfortable.

And the other 3 days we visited Cappadocia, a region of central Anatolia, where nature has created really amazing shapes. It's really worth walking between this strange shapes and enjoying the other secrets this region hides.

After our first evening in Istanbul, we decided to spend our first morning in Istanbul in Sultanahmet, a really beautiful area around Haghia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. This two buildings are amazing, truly impressive. After enjoying a lot visiting this two monuments, we went for a walk in Gülhane Park and Eminönü, where we could admire fantastic views from Galata bridge.



Visits of the day
  • Haghia Sophia *
  • Küçük Ayasofya Camii
  • Blue Mosque *
  • Gülhane Park
  • Eminönü *
  • Spice Bazaar *
  • New Mosque
  • Galata Bridge *
  • Restaurant Artiste Terrasse *

* Strongly recommended


Sultanahmet

Haghia Sophia

Haghia Sophia is one of the monuments of Istanbul I remember with more affection. It's a wonder of architecture which has survived some earthquakes


Inside this treasure byzantine of Istanbul I got a wonderful feeling of peace. The faint light and the warm colours of its walls made me feel really comfortable

The impressive dome of Haghia Sophia reaching to a height of 56 meters

The minber, or pulpit, was installed in Haghia Sophia by Murat III (1574-95)

Mosaic of the Virgin with Empeor John II Comnenus and Empress Irene inside Haghia Sophia. Unfortunately there aren't much mosaics preserved. I can assure that Haghia Sophia must have been really beautiful with all its walls decorated with mosaics

From the second floor there is a fantastic overall view of Haghia Sophia and, especially, of the calligraphic roundels

There are some calligraphic roundels inside Haghia Sophia. I really liked this roundels and I think that they give a mystic look to this wonderful byzantine church of Istanbul


A detail of a lamp inside Haghia Sophia


A detail of a calligraphic roundel


In the background, on the first floor and under one of the roundels, there is the sultan's lodge, The lodge was used by Sultan to join the rituals without being seen by public and it was also to protect the Sultan from possible assassins

In this picture it can be seen the impressive heigh of Haghia Sophia and the many windows this church has


Going to the Blue Mosque I couldn't help taking a picture of  Haghia Sophia and its fantastic surrounding area of SultanahmetAnd in front of Haghia Sophia, beyond Sultanahmet Square, we could admire the Blue Mosque, with its six minarets, which gives an oriental look to this splendid area of Istanbul


Walking to the Bosphorus


Going to Küçük Ayasofya we saw this view: ships waiting for crossing the Bosphorus


Ablutions fountain in Sokollu Mehmet Pasa Camii, a small and beautiful mosque near Küçük Ayasofya Camii. We enter this mosque because we thought this mosque was Küçük Ayasofya but, luckily, our mistake let us visit this nice mosque


Küçük Ayasofya Camii, or the Little Haghia Sophia as it's also known, is a Byzantine Church and one of the most charming of all the city's architectural treasures of Istanbul. It's located in a humble quarter near Sultanahmet. It was one of the first contrast we saw in Istanbul: a humble quarter next to a truly beautiful area such sultanahmet


Inside, an irregular octagon of columns of two floors supports a broad central dome. This structure remains a bit Haghia Sophia. As you can see, it's highly decorative. Of course, these little mosques are cozier than the bigger ones

This was one of the obelisks which adorned the central line of the Hippodrome which once stood at the heart of the Byzantine city of Constantinople

The huge stadium, it's thought that it held up up to 100000 people, is now an elongated public garden, At Meydani, the Square of the Horses. This garden, next to Haghia Sophia (it can be seen its minarets on the right), is perfect to walk and it was crowded with young people


Fantastic view of Sultanahmet square and the Bosphorus in the background from the terrace roof where we had lunch

Blue Mosque


After having lunch we came back to the Blue Mosque

Inside the courtyard of the Blue Mosque


In the background on the left, the mihrab, a niche in the wall which marks the direction of Mecca

The impressive dome of the Blue Mosque, inspired by the one of Haghia Sophia


Here we can see the blue tiles which gives name to this mosque


Carpets, faint lights and silence made me feel really comfortable and relaxed in mosques


After visiting the Blue Mosque we spent a good time taking some photos and enjoying the lively environment of Sultanahmet. We could also heard the call to prayer, as the following video shows


video
The call to prayer in Sultanahmet


Tulips in Sultanahmet


Sultanahmet is always truly crowded. It doesn't surprise me because sultanahmet is a lovely green area of Istanbul perfect to spend a sunny day

View from Gülhane


Gülhane Park in Istanbul is quite large. We did a long walk which led us to the Bosphorus where we enjoyed a fantastic view


Eminönü


A typical trolley of roast chestnuts in front of the New Mosque in Istanbul


Spice Bazaar


Colourful spices which gives an oriental smell to the Spice bazaar in Istanbul


In this shop of the Spice Bazaar you can find a lot of typical oriental products, like shawls, pottey, tiles etc


Views from Eminönü



From Eminönü there is great view of the Golden Horn, the Galata tower and the fishermen on the always crowed Galata bridge


And this is the view we enjoyed of the Sülemaniye Mosque from the Galata bridge


Having dinner in Restaurant Artiste Terrasse


The view of Topkapi, Haghia Sophia and the Blue Mosque was really breathtaking from the terrasse of this restaurant

Taking some creative pictures after having dinner


Here the two tripods I used to take one of the previous picture. The smaller one is mine and the waiter, who were really kind yo us, lent me the bigger one because he thought rightly that mine was too small for a Canon EOS 450D

After our fantastic first day in Istanbul, we did a break and flew to Cappadocia, where we spent the following three days. Clicking on the next link, the fabulous secrets of Cappadocia. Besides, clicking on the next link you will find the most interesting places in Istanbul we visited during this trip.



You can see more pictures of these days I spent in Istanbul and Cappadocia clicking on the links below:

First day in Istanbul
- Second day in Istanbul

1 comment:

Blog de Ana said...

Bonito reportaje Sobre Estambul. Lo visité hace 33 Años Siendo Estudiante y me impresionó muchisimo. Vuelvo proximamente y espero volver un Sentir El aurea del Espacio en Santa Sofía y llenarme de la ESA PAZ Que se respiratorias en SUS Templos de como de los olores y Colores de Sus Bazares y Mercados.
Un saludo,
Ana