We arrived in Istanbul day before yesterday and had our first on shore excursion, which was Istanbul by night. It gave us a little glimpse of the layout of this two continent city. We joined in with the typical tourist attractions of a traditional Turkish dinner complete with belly dancers and flaming swords.
Yesterday was a full day of discoveries. We had a wonderful informative guide to share the history of the places we visited and were fortunate enough to visit the Topkapi Palace when it was closed to the public so that was an added bonus. In the treasury portion we laid eyes on an 84 caret diamond that had been retrieved from the garbage. (In it’s uncut state of course.)
Once the Sultan heard of this he requested it be brought to the palace and made it into a ring. It is now surrounded with additional diamonds as a pendant.
We visited the Sultan Ahmet Camii (Blue Mosque). Which is still a working mosque. We removed our shoes, I covered my head and went inside. It was given this name for the tiny blue tiles that cover the walls and domes. Absolutely gerogeous.
We had a wonderful lunch in Old Town at an authentic Ottoman restaurant. Visited the Bazaar, and watched a young woman weaving a silk rug. What a labor intense process.
The Hagia Sophia was one of my favorite places. It was built as a roman Catholic church in 537 AD, became Greek Orthodox when Constantinople split from the Roman empire and turned into a mosque in 1453. Later St.Sophia was converted into a museum. There is no museum memorabilia inside, but the fresco paintings and mosaics that have been uncovered and restored and the church itself are more than enough for it to be considered one.