Hagia Sophia | Istanbul

First a church, then a mosque, and now a museum.  In 1453 the church was converted into a mosque following the fall of Constantinople.  All of the alters and sacrificial vessels were removed and the mosaics depicting Jesus, Mary and others were either removed or plastered over.  In 1935 the mosque became a museum and since, many of the mosaics have been uncovered.  Restoration is still in progress as you can see the scaffolds in many of these photos.  
This is just another of the many sights in Istanbul that makes it, for me, one of the most magical and mystical places I have visited.


Scenes From A Restaurant | Nar, Istanbul

One of my favorite restaurants in Istanbul is Nar.  They serve over 50 different dishes a day and the meze, once again, was incredible.  We also had our first "pide," which is a type of Turkish pizza with a most unusual shape.

Nar Restaurant, Istanbul


The Blue Mosque | Istanbul

The Blue Mosque was built between 1609 and 1616.  It's name refers to the thousands of blue tiles on the ceilings of the domes.  It is really quite gorgeous.  The mosque is still a functioning mosque, even with all of the tourists visiting.  It actually closes 5 times a day for the call to prayer.  The first call is at sunrise and the last at sunset.  You can hear the call to prayer all over the city as each mosque has its own "muezzin."   A "muezzin" is a highly regarded person in that mosque that can deliver the prayer beautifully and loudly for all to hear through the microphones by the minarets, calling Muslims to come to the mosque and pray.  It is so incredibly beautiful to hear.  I will never forget it.   


The Markets | Istanbul

The Spice Market, the fish and vegetable markets in Kadikoy on the Asian side of Istanbul, and the candy stores selling the famous "Turkish Delight,"  the markets of Istanbul have it all.


Chora Church | Istanbul

The Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora was originally built outside of the walls of Contantinople (now Istanbul) in the 5th century.  It was originally a monastery.  The church has been rebuilt a few times, once because of an earthquake.  Gorgeous mosaics and frescos cover the walls and ceilings, each one telling a different story.  In 1511 the church was converted into a mosque and the mosaics and frescos were covered with a layer of plaster.  In 1945 it was converted into a museum and the mosaics were then uncovered.  And they were absolutely beautiful.  You can learn more about Chora Church here.


On the Streets in Instanbul

I had no idea how much I would love Istanbul.  I travel to see different cultures and ways of life.  And of course the food and a good photo op.  Istanbul has all of those things and so much more.  This city is one of the most fascinating places I have visited, religiously, politically, and historically.  And how many countries can you say exist on two different continents?  I will have to look that up.  The sound of the Call to Prayer coming out of the minarets throughout the city 5 times a day was beautiful.  And we were visiting Turkey during the time of Ramadan.  
We stayed in the old city, in Sultanahmet, which was great for visiting the Hippodrome, Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia, and the Topaki Palace.  From our hotel, the Eresin Crown, we were able to walk to all of these places.  Our hotel also had a beautiful view of the Sea of Marmara that you could enjoy on the terrace for both breakfast or cocktails and dinner.  And at night, on the terrace, you could see the Blue Mosque lit brightly nearby.  I loved that so many restaurants were serving on rooftop terraces like Mostra Seafood and Nostra Cosa, where we had two great meals.
We visited a 300 year old Haman or Turkish bath, named Cogaloglu, which is an experience one will not forget.  After changing in your private changing room, you are then led into the hararet or hot room to sweat before your treatment.  The room is all marble and quite beautiful. In the center of the room is the marble slab where you will be scrubbed down with a kese and massaged.  No pictures posted of that!
I could go on and on about Istanbul but instead let the pictures tell the story which is the point of this blog.