Day of the Big Monuments
Istanbul Travel Blog› entry 2 of 6 › view all entries
If you're looking for well-known, spectacular buildings, Istanbul will make you feel all warm inside. You just have to turn your nose to the Sultanahmed quarter and look around. But before we went there, of course we visited our mosque Suleymaniye Camii, as we did every day, and had thea on cushions. It's a good way to start the day. Lots of people have tea on the streets in the morning. Small boys are running to and fro with tea to give to the merchants.
And this is what you find in Sultanahmed: a huge open, gardenlike square with wonders all around you. Turn left and you see the majestic Blue Mosque, turn right and you see that which the Blue Mosque was supposed to rival: The Hagia Sophia. In front of you, there is the entrance to a huge subterranean Basilica Cistern of Roman times, and behind that you can eat the finest baklava in the world.
We visited everything, of course, but the Hagia Sophia made the biggest impression on me. From the outside it is not as beautiful as the Blue Mosque, but the inside is really overwhelming. Too bad there was a restauration going on (well, I understand, it has to be preserved, but they needed an enormous steel construction to reach the impossibly high ceiling) which obscured the view. They turned the Sophia into a museum, which means that you have to pay to enter. Very clever!
When we headed north to stroll around the big shopping street, trying to find something to eat, there was a sudden uprising of people. It turned out that the Turkish elections were on their way and there was a massive gathering of people, shouting many things and waving their beloved flag to and fro. We quickly sprinted to the side to watch them march along in safety.
That evening, we met two guys who tooks us along for some Efes beers and were altogether very hospitable, but afterward they became pushy and wanted to drag us to some obscure place. We quickly left. Afterwards I read in our guide that this was one of the worst scams you could suffer and we were lucky to have all our belongings!