At the end of last November Vicki and I took the last of our holiday time and spent a week in Istanbul. With cheap flights from the UK and off-season rates it was quite cheap. The weather was cold and gray but not wet.
While we were there the Pope decided to visit and we spent the time trying to dodge the Pope and his entourage of protesters. Despite this we found Istanbul to be quite friendly to one Brit and an unapologetic American.
The first place we visited was Topkapi Palace.
As usual click on photos below to see more on the album pages.
This is from our visit to the Blue Mosque the first Mosque I had ever visited. Istanbul I must admit was vaguely unsettling with the huge number of mosques and their new connotations of sinister intentions for the West these days.
Istanbul is of course very old city; consequently though the Ottoman influence is the most easily recognized there is still evident Roman architecture in a few remaining places. These are the cisterns built to supply the city with water from aqueducts.
This is the Hagia Sofia. Formerly a Christian Church built in 537 by emperor Justinian. Prior churches on the site date back tot he 4th century but were destroyed by earthquake or fire. In 1453 with the conquest of Constantinople by Mehmed II the clergy and followers who sought sanctuary were put the sword as dictated by Muhammad that those who do not surrender are put to death. It was then converted to a Mosque until 1935 when Ataturk converted the controversial symbol to a museum.
In additon to the traditional sights we walked extensively and traveled on the tram. The city felt safe wherever we went.
As part of the 'dodge-the-Pope' excercises took a boat trip to Princes' islands. These are islands in the Marmara sea where the people in the city spend their summer evenings. Intriguingly they do not allow people to bring their cars. Everyone must either walk or use horse-drawn carriages.