Saturday, November 23, 2013


Our cruise ship sailed all night again and we woke to a whole new world in the 2500 year old city of Istanbul. What a contrast to the simplicity of the Greek island of Mykonos which was our last port stop. Istanbul is a mega transcontinental city, a bridge over the Bosphorus Sea tying  the commercial and historic center in Europe to much of it's population on the Asia side. The city was originally named Byzantium in 660 BC and then in 330 AD Constantine the Great made it the new capital of the Roman Empire and renamed it Constantinople. By the 19th century the names changed some more till it morphed into Istanbul.

A quick view of the ancient Hippodrome where political rallies and chariot races took place. At the corner stands a 25 meter Egyptian obelisk carved in 1500 BC and brought to Constantinople in 390 AD.

Sultan Ahmed Mosque or also called the Blue Mosque built between 1609 - 1616 has one main dome, eight secondary domes and six minarets. As it is still used as a mosque we removed our shoes in respect.

Looking up at the elegant domes of inlaid tiles

Hagia Sophia was built between 537 - 1453 AD, first as a Greek Orthodox Church, then a Roman Catholic cathedral, later a Muslim Mosque and now has become a museum.

Looking up through a chandelier

The underground cistern

The underground cistern dates back to the 6th century is supported by 336 Corinthian columns. It was built to supply water to the royal palace. It was dark, damp, and a little creepy down there especially with the carved face on its side in water at the base of a column.

The Grand Bazaar was our last stop for a little shopping. Our tour guide made it clear how not to get lost in a maze of streets and lanes which can be entered by eleven gates. We could not handle this place too long because of the haze of cigarette smoke.

Back on our ship by late afternoon, weary from lots of walking, we took to the deck to watch this beautiful city fade into the sunset as we sailed out of the Golden Horn, the inlet between two continents.

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