Istanbul! What an incredible place. Really buzzing in the here and now, with such an interesting history.
At the Topkapi Palace, just inside the gates to the Sultan's harem. Don is checking out the mounting block where the sultan used to get astride or demount from his horse.
The many eunuchs who guarded the harem were powerful people who managed the life of the palace. They were chosen from young Ethiopian lads and trained for their work.
One of the sumptuous rooms of the harem.
This is the controversial Taksim Square. Rioting back in June of this year almost made us change our minds about coming to Istanbul but it is quiet and peaceful here now. It seems that everyone has a theory about the riots and who put the protestors up to it. There is a bit of greenery here but it could do with a bit of a tidy up, not really a park to take the kids to. We didn't see any protestors but one night going home through the square we saw a very big police presence there, about a dozen buses had emptied themselves of 'polis' with rifles, who were hanging about looking bored,
We saw a lot of these shoe shine stands. This one was in pristine condition in the Carlton Ritz Hotel lobby. A lot of Turkish men have nice shiny leather shoes on their feet.
A little fun fair attraction all by itself in a little park.
We went for a ferry cruise on the Bosphorus on our first afternoon in Istanbul. Unfortunately it was a blustery day but I did get this nice “fingers of God” shot.
It was dark by the time the ferry got back in and the mosques were lit up. We are very used to the sound of the recorded call to prayer that goes out 5 times daily from the top of minarets all over Istanbul, and before that, wherever we were in Morocco.
Great street art!
You really can't imagine the run down condition of some parts of town. There is a huge new building project in Beyoglu near Taksim Square and a lot of houses there are vacant and derelict. These two were next door to our apartment.
As you can see our apartment block has been beautifully done up. The owner is a lovely lady who is very optimistic about the neighbourhood's prospects. She told us to come back in only 2 or 3 years from now to see how lovely it all will be.
Don was often addressed as Ali Baba in Morocco and Turkey because of his beard.
The Istanbul Modern Art Museum is right on the edge of the Bosphorus and has a great collection.
The Hagia Sophia is no longer a mosque but a museum. It was a mosque for 500 years and before that it was a Christian Church for 900 years.
Looking out from a rooftop restaurant in the Sultanahmet area we could see the old jail, which is now The Four Seasons Hotel. Very nice! We went in for afternoon tea.
I can't believe it! I took a photo of the Blue Mosque that looks just like the picture postcards they sell here.
Home to our apartment once more. The view from the kitchen window.
Stray cats everywhere. We saw a lot of people taking time out to feed them. These cats have their own bowls and a big ball of wool to play with. Kitty kindy!
This mosaic picture is inside the Hagia Sophia. When the Moslems took over the church they had to cover all the faces in the pictures. They did not deface the pictures but covered them with plaster which they painted over with designs. Now that it is a museum restoration work iis uncovering these beautiful gold mosaic pictures. This one is particularly interesting as it depicts the emperor bowing to Christ. Turkey had been a Christian stronghold or hideout in the days of Roman persecution.
Below: Believe it or not this is the belly button of the world! Rather lovely in its simplicity.
There were some beautiful photos of some of the restored parts of the museum. I am posing in front of one.
The bejewelled dagger, available in the gift shop. We saw the real thing in the Topkapi Palace. Made famous in the movie Topkapi.
Other things available in the gift shop.
Continuing the lion theme of my blog. This one is being admired by his little relative, who is survivng better than him in the modern world.
The Grand Bazaar really was amazing. If I hadn't been sick on my last day I would have gone back and bought a carpet bag (really made of carpet) and filled it up with goodies to bring home.
I really regret not buying a pair of these boots.
And so we make our travel weary way home. Check the next blog to see how my garden has been doing while I've been away.