Istanbul Travel Blog› entry 3 of 4 › view all entries
The next morning we woke up early as well; again to the Morning Prayer at 6am but this time we didnâ€™t hear the night receptionist join in. We looked at each other and decided to again be the early raisers and go for breakfast. We were the first but as the day before a lot of the other people from the hotel followed our example very fast and joined in.
The weather was not as good as the day before but it was still close to 17-18 degrees; we decided to do like the day before and walk in the city while Kaija was feeling good.
We turned into the Gulhane Parki and enjoyed strolling around in there without meeting anybody except the hordes of wild green parrots flying amongst the tree tops and making and enormous noise while flying. We walked down the harbour and smiled towards the waiters which were rebuilding their outdoor cafĂ©s after the tourist invasion from the day before. One of the things I really enjoyed in Istanbul was all the friendly faces who were always smiling at you.
I left to visit the Blue Mosque from the inside. It was just passed 10.30 and the hordes tourist in busses had arrived and at the same time it was time for the normal Sunday visits to the Mosques. The queue to get in was not that long and it went fast to get in. We had all naturally to take our shoes off, and with my shoes in my hand I walked into this carpet covered huge room with hordes of tourist following the different guided tours in all possible languages.
I stayed there for a while and decided to go outside again which took a bit longer due to all the old ladies that had to put their shoes on again.
It was enormously pleasant to sit there in the sun so I decided to follow my coffee up with a small cold beer before walking again. I walked in the opposite direction of the attractions down to the water and the small steep streets where the houses were in another condition than in the main tourist route.
After a couple of hours I walked into the bazaar area where I was met by a lot of friendly people telling me that it was closed, but I just wanted to walk the streets.
I walked by the hotel to check on Kaija but she was still ill and wanted to sleep. I therefore decided to visit Haghia Sophia which for me was the main goal of my trip. The church is massive and almost 1500 years old and for almost 500 years the principal mosque of Istanbul. When the church was completed in 537 AD, the Haghia Sophia was the largest church in the world, and Constantinople (Istanbul) was the world's largest city and today it is the 4th largest church building in the world.
Haghia Sophia is a former patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey. Famous in particular for its massive dome, it is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture. It was the largest cathedral ever built in the world for nearly a thousand years, until the completion of the Seville Cathedral in 1520. The current building was originally constructed as a church between A.D. 532 and 537 on the orders of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian, and was in fact the third Church of the Holy Wisdom to occupy the site (the previous two had both been destroyed by riots).
It was designed by two architects, Isidore of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles.
In 1453, Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks and Sultan Mehmed II ordered the building to be converted into the Mosque. The bells, altar, iconostasis, and sacrificial vessels were removed, and many of the mosaics were eventually plastered over. The Islamic features; such as the mihrab, the minbar, and the four minarets outside, were added over the course of its history under the Ottomans. It remained as a mosque until 1935, when it was converted into a museum by the Republic of Turkey.
For almost 500 years the principal mosque of Istanbul, Hagia Sophia served as a model for many of the Ottoman mosques such as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque of Istanbul), the Ĺžehzade Mosque, the SĂĽleymaniye Mosque, and the RĂĽstem Pasha Mosque.
The building's central interior part measures 100 meters long and 70 meters wide (interior dimensions of the central praying hall), and is capped by a magnificent dome with a diameter of 31.87 meters and an interior height of 55.60 m.
The original dome was completed in 537 AD. 25 years later, in 562 AD, it was replaced by the current dome which is 6.25 m taller, giving the church its current interior height of 55.60 m. The dome is supported by semidomes acting as buttresses and the interior features coloured marble colonnades supported by columns topped with elaborately carved capitals.
I must say that I was amazed by the enormous building and I had to constantly remind myself that this wonder was almost 1500 years old. I was picturing the huge amount of people that over the years had walked here and I felt good that a building like this had survived so long.
After this I had a diner just around a corner where I could watch the building from distance. After diner I returned back to my sick girlfriend who were still sleeping and who had missed all this; I decided on that spot that I had to go back here one day and show her this beauty.