Day of the Big Monuments

Istanbul Travel Blog

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One out of many monumental mosques

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.

The Hagia Sophia in sunny Istanbul


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!

Jeroenadmiraal says:
Yeah it didn't feel right from the beginning but my travel buddy didn't suspect anything. One of the guys looked a bit tense himself, and they tried to separate us too while sitting down for a drink. Good thing we left in time!
Posted on: Nov 21, 2012
halilee says:
I'm glad your 6th sense kicked in and you didn't follow them to the obscure place.. it is a pretty bad scam! Hagia Sophia was stunning I agree!
Posted on: Nov 20, 2012
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One out of many monumental mosques
One out of many monumental mosques
The Hagia Sophia in sunny Istanbul
The Hagia Sophia in sunny Istanbul
The subterranean Cistern
The subterranean Cistern
Sophia from the inside.
Sophia from the inside.
The Blue Mosque behind Hagia Sophia
The Blue Mosque behind Hagia Sophia
warning: elections!
warning: elections!
Istanbul
photo by: Memo