Chora church museum, Rusterm Pasha Mosque, Grand Bazaar, Basalica Cistern and boarding the ship

Istanbul Travel Blog

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Interior ceiling of Chora church museum

In the morning, we visited the Church of St Saviour in Chora, where some of the best Byzantine mosaics exist in Istanbul. The present church dates from the 11th century, while the frescoes and mosaics were added in the 1th century. There were two domes in the inner narthex, one of the domes in the church depicts the genealogy of Christ and the other the life of the virgin. Our guide asked if any of us had neck problems, we said no, then she said we would after viewing this church.

Interior ceiling of Chora church museum
Because we had to crane our necks to look up most of the time, it definitely gave us a sore neck!


We went back to the city, passing old walls of Constantinople and back to the waterfront of the Golden Horn again. We paid a short visit to the tiny mosque called Rusterm Pasha Mosque. It was a beautiful mosque with mostly white painted ceiling with many blue tiles from Iznik, the best tiles according to the guidebook. It was not as grand as the Blue Mosque, but more intimate and maybe even more beautiful. Its main dome had 24 arched windows at its base, then 8 more arches of alternating white and red marbles. Blue and white tiles with a roundel bearing probably the names of some important person in calligraphy fill the triangluar sections above the arches. From the center looking up, it resembes a flower!


Our next stop was the Grand Bazaar, more than 4000 shops of all kinds.

Interior doorway of Chora church museum
We entered from the Nurosmaniye Gate into the main street of jewelry stores. We walked to near the end and then turned down another street. I was a bit surprised that the vendors were not as pushy as I thought they might be. We went into a textile and antique clothing store and the owner served us tea and showed the merchandise with no pressure. It was a pleasant experience.


We made one more stop in town, the underground Basilica Cistern. Its entrance was located right between the Hippodrome and the Haghia Sophia. I had seen photos of this in the guide book, and wanted to visit it definitely. The underground water cistern was a vast and unusually beautiful place to visit. Supposed to have been laid out during the 6th century to satisfy the round demands of the great palace. Its existence was not known to the Ottomans until people were found to be collecting water and fishing through holes in their basements.

old city walls in Istanbul
There were plenty of fish in the water there when we visited. 336 columns held up the roof of the cistern, one had circular designs and was kind of green from the moisture. Two columns had bases of Medusa heads, one of which was upside down. These were evidence of plundering by the Byzantines from earlier monuments.


We boarded our ship in the afternoon, and sailed through the Bosphorus strait into the Black Sea. The Bosphorus was a busy waterway! When we left the dock, the water was busy with rush hour traffic, boats ships of all sizes going in all directions at once, really impressive. We went under the Bosphorus Bridge (the first bridge to be built over the Bosphorus, completed in 1973, it is the world's 9th longest suspension bridge, at 1074 meters long) and then the Faith Sultan Mehmet Bridge where we had a good view of the Fortress of Europe right under the bridge.

more drive-by, city walls
The older Fortress of Asia on the other side was much smaller and harder to see. The Fortress of Europe was built in 1452 by Mehmet the Conqueror in his conquest of Constantinople. It had some impressive looking stone walls and towers. Amazingly it was completed in only 4 months!


The sun started to set and we turned into the Black Sea as the night fell.


On the ship, Le Levant, we had a guest count of 64, and a crew count of 54! The crew was mostly French, as was the captain. We were greeted at the entry to the ship by the captain and several officers, and were shown to our rooms. The room was not very large, but more spacious than many much larger cruise ships. We unpacked and hung our clothes in the closet, which had plenty of hangers. Since this would be our home for the next 7 nights. We had an introduction of the ship's officers and a life boat drill. At 8pm we were served dinner in the main dining room.

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Interior ceiling of Chora church m…
Interior ceiling of Chora church …
Interior ceiling of Chora church m…
Interior ceiling of Chora church …
Interior doorway of Chora church m…
Interior doorway of Chora church …
old city walls in Istanbul
old city walls in Istanbul
more drive-by, city walls
more drive-by, city walls
drive-by view of the train station…
drive-by view of the train statio…
one of the entrances to the Grand …
one of the entrances to the Grand…
Rusterm Pasha Mosque
Rusterm Pasha Mosque
Rusterm Pasha Mosque
Rusterm Pasha Mosque
Rusterm Pasha Mosque
Rusterm Pasha Mosque
Rusterm Pasha Mosque, with walls o…
Rusterm Pasha Mosque, with walls …
Rusterm Pasha Mosque
Rusterm Pasha Mosque
inside a textile store in the Gran…
inside a textile store in the Gra…
Basilica Cistern, beautiful and di…
Basilica Cistern, beautiful and d…
Interior of Basilica Cistern
Interior of Basilica Cistern
Interior of Basilica Cistern, with…
Interior of Basilica Cistern, wit…
Interior of Basilica Cistern
Interior of Basilica Cistern
the upside down Madusa head used a…
the upside down Madusa head used …
Interior of Basilica Cistern
Interior of Basilica Cistern
on the way to the ship, I saw this…
on the way to the ship, I saw thi…
boarding our ship
boarding our ship
in the lounge of the ship, dad, mo…
in the lounge of the ship, dad, m…
View of Bosphorus Bridge on the wa…
View of Bosphorus Bridge on the w…
View along the Bosphorus strait, t…
View along the Bosphorus strait, …
Looking back at the Bosphorus Brid…
Looking back at the Bosphorus Bri…
Fellow passenger Christine took th…
Fellow passenger Christine took t…
Istanbul
photo by: Memo