Hagia Sophia and the Topkapi Palace
Istanbul Travel Blog› entry 10 of 19 › view all entries
Day two of Istanbul:
Instead of waking up to another beautiful sunny day as we did the day before we were greeted loud winds, chilly rain and immobile grey clouds. Because of the poor weather we decided it was more sensible to explore indoor out of the weather places of tourism :P
First stop of the day was the Hagia Sophia. Even with the view blocking scaffolding put up for the latest of renovations the interior of Hagia Sophia was still very stunning! The ceiling was gorgeous with its yellow, red and blue ornate designs. In Fact some of the Turkish patterns of the ceiling seemed to me to be similar to Native American designs. The subject later became the basis for an interesting discussion between a friend and I on the possibilities of there being an exchange of artistic influences between the Ottoman Turks and the many Native American tribes during the years of colonialism.
There was much to explore in Hagia Sophia. We didn't pay for a tour guide but it probably would have been a good idea considering there are several little quirks and details through out the building that are not explained through plaques on what their significance is.
Next stop for the day was the Topkapi Palace.
The Topkapi Palace is located near the Hagia Sophia. It was the Sultan's primary residence and center of government affairs, but is now a HUGE museum displaying the history and wealth of the Ottoman Empire. There were several displays of beautiful tile work, textiles, carriages, weapons and collections of items owned and used by the many sultans. One of the most impressive collections were the many porcelain plates, dishes and vases sent via the old silk trade route from the far east. Much of it was the traditional blue and white porcelain ware favored by the sultans, but my favorite were the ones with a little more color.
The architecture of the palace and landscaping of the courtyards are amazing and worth the trip. I really wish that the weather was better then what it was. Even the indoors of the Palace were very chilly and there were few places to rest. There was a great view of the surrounding city from the palace and again on a clearer day the view would have been even more amazing.
After the palace we ventured to get something good and warm to eat and decided to make it an early day with the hopes that the next day would be nicer :P