A visit at Sofia's
Istanbul Travel Blog› entry 3 of 29 › view all entries
After a reasonable nightâ€™s sleep we went for breakfast before setting out to explore the sights. Turkish breakfast was a mixture of cheeses, simit`s (savoury bagel), bread, olives, jams, honey, cucumber, tomatoes, boiled eggs... the list goes on! and of course terrible tea and very strong coffee. I stuck to the simple things like cereal and cheese although I did like the Hava a sweet desert made of Tahini! Today we planned to explore Hagia Sofia and the underground Cistern and if we have time the Grand Bazaar.
We wondered up to Sofia which wasnâ€™t far from the hotel. We paid our 20 Liras at the entrance and first explored the Sultanâ€™s tombs. There were three in total each housing a Sultan and his family. Inside the tombs were coffins covered in like a green velvet some small which were probably children and some large. After exploring the tombs we made our way into Sofia which started out as one of the greatest churches in Christendom before conquering Ottomanâ€™s turned into a Mosque by adding minaretâ€™s and removing the cross from the top of the dome. It remained a Mosque until 1935 when Attaturk proclaimed it a museum. Inside its magnificent and you could still see remanentâ€™s of Christian mosaicâ€™s. They were renovating half the inside of it so come back in a few years it will look truly magnificent inside. They were quite a few tourists but not too many that it became too much of a hindrance. After exploring the ground level we then made our way up the stone tunnel like ramps to the Balconyâ€™s where there were a few displays and you could get a closer look at the ceiling. One thing that was striking was the lovely hanging chandeliers throughout the building. Coming out of Sofia we were peckish so we grabbed a grilled corn from one of the corn and chestnut carts. I bit into it and quickly spat it out again it was disgusting he had put salt on it, yuk! It was flavourless and dry I binned it quickly. We wondered over towards the Blue Mosque and passed another tomb, this one was of Sultan Ahmet so we ventured inside. We then found a kebab place and went up onto the balcony, this was the lunch stop. We had nice views of the Blue Mosque and opposite to our eatery was another lovely looking Mosque, we were in time to hear the call of prayer.
After lunch we sought out the Basilica Cistern which dates back to Byzantine times and was used to store water for the Palaceâ€™s. The place was fascinating, dark with a touch of coloured lighting to add atmosphere. Water was still in the Cistern and fish inhabited the watery basement. At one end were two large stone carvings of Medusaâ€™s heads supporting a couple of pillars. Our visit to the Cistern was followed by a visit to the Grand Bazaar, the Bazaar was a huge maze of shops which you just got yourself lost in. It was divided up into sections, leather goods together, jewellery in another section etc etc, we didnâ€™t aim for particular sections we just wondered as we saw fit. There were shops after shops of carpets, ceramics, leather, jewellery, trinkets, coloured lamps, clothes and each seller trying to beckon you in! It was nice to see the Bazaar but I couldnâ€™t help feel that everything started to look the same after a while, how many coloured lamp stalls can you look at! It was just so repetitive so we got out of there.