Tuesday, 14 November 2006

Blue Mosque

So many words have been written about this mosque, and of course, comparisons made betwen it and Aya Sofya (usually in the latter's favour), that it's pretty impossible to add more. I do love visiting here because it is a working mosque.

This Turkish style of mosque has been copied in one of Sydney's mosques - the Gallipoli Mosque at Auburn. It serves a mainly Turkish community.

Tuesday, 10 October 2006

Aya Sofya

Looking towards the Aya Sofya from the Blue Mosque.

Interior gallery

View looking out from gallery

Aya Sofya 13 July 1989

Arguably İstanbul's most famous building. There are a million photos of it, so in my most recent trip I tried to take some "different" ones, hence the dark spaces in the Gallery.

Inside is simply astounding, and I stare in awe at the architectural miracle that enabled this to be finished in 537. How does that central dome soar above with seemingly no support? [By the way, it has been replaced several times after earthquakes] The answer is that it is supported by 40 massive ribs constructed of special hollow bricks, made in Rhodes, resting on four huge pillars concealed in the interior walls. Almost 1000 years later, the great architect, Sinan, used the same technique in designing the Süleymaniye Mosque.

It was the greatest Christian church of all until 1453, when Mehmet the Conqueror turned it into a mosque. Being equally as significant to Christians and Moslems, I think Atatürk did the right thing turning it into a museum in 1934, so everyone can appreciate its magnificence.

Uncovering the mosaics (covered in plaster, but not destroyed, during the Islamic period) and restoration continues, and there is usually scaffolding, but that does not detract from a visit to this World Heritage site.

Saturday, 7 October 2006

Topkapı Palace

I didn't visit Topkapı this time. It's well worth it for the first, or second time visitor, but in this trip there was limited time. Here's some photos from 1990 and 1991.

Topkapı was begun in 1453 by Memhmet the Conqueror, and housed Sultans until Mahmut II (1808-1839), when the sultans built newer, more European style palaces along the Bosphorus. Along the way Topkapı was home to Selim the Sot, who drowned in the bath after drinking too much champagne, Ibrahim the Mad and Roxelana, the beautiful partner of Süleyman the Magnificent. And centuries of intrigue and espionage.

Inside the Harem - the Imperial Antechamber (Hünkar Sofası)

The area of the Fourth Court

Topkapı Gardens

Friday, 6 October 2006

Museum of the Ancient Orient

In the same complex as the Archaeology Museum and Tiled Kiosk, it houses treasures of pre-Hittite and pre-Islamic empires.

A copy of the oldest peace treaty, the Kadesh Treaty, drawn up in the 13th century BC between the Egyptians and Hittites.

These glazed panels once lined the processional street and Ishtar gate of ancient Babylon from the time of Nebuchadnezzar II (605 - 562 BC)

Tuesday, 26 September 2006

Tiled Kiosk (çinli Kösk) of Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror

Until recently, closed for renovation, I was thrilled to finally see this museum. Turkish ceramic art is one of my favourite things.

The Lonely Planet Istanbul Guide says:
This building is thought to be the oldest surviving non-religious building in İstanbul. It was built in 1472 as an outer pavilion of the Topkapı Palace. It was used for watching sporting events. The recessed doorway area is covered with tiles – sometimes with white calligraphy on blue. The geometric patterns and colour of the tiles –turquoise, white, black – on the façade show Selcuk influence.

Much of the interior of the kiosk is covered with triangular and hexagonal tiles of brown, green, yellow and blue.

Much of the exhibition features İznik tiles from the 17th and 18th centuries.

Thursday, 14 September 2006

Archaeological Museum

This is one of my favourite museums. It’s very close to the much more popularly visited Topkapı Palace.

This is part of the chain that the Byzantines stretched across the Golden Horn to keep out the Ottomans as they laid siege to Constantinople in 1453. It forms part of the İstanbul Through the Ages exhibition. (Actually, last time I saw this I thought it as at the Askerı (Military) museum, but things might have moved around - or there's two bits; certainly the Archaeological Museum has undergone a massive refurbishment in recent times - I always liked it, now it is outstanding.)

Part of the Tiled Kiosk, and the cafe

Giant earthenware pots, and worker cleaning the cases.

Piero at the cafe, 13 August 1989.

Saturday, 9 September 2006

İstanbul transport - big buses

Bus routes are numerous. This is the bus terminus at Taksim. Tickets can be bought at the white booths on the left.

Wednesday, 30 August 2006

İstanbul transport - Metro

The metro is the newest form of mass transport. Alas, as yet, there is only one line. It is fast, clean, efficient and comfortable. This is 4.Levent station. Iznik tile murals are a feature of the metro stations. At Aksaray the metro connects with the light rail, which alllows for airport access.

Monday, 28 August 2006

İstanbul transport - taxi

These little yellow taxis dart in and out of the traffic all over the place. Compared to many other cities they are reasonably affordable way to get about, at least for visitors. The density of traffic can be frustrating though.

Saturday, 26 August 2006

İstanbul transport - Tünel

An underground funicular built in the late 1800s, Tünel allowed European businessmen to travel the steep incline from Karaköy (Galata) without tiring themselves.

Friday, 25 August 2006

İstanbul transport - dolmuşes

These old style dolmuşes (mentioned in the entry on mini-buses) were at the ferry terminal in Sarıyer. Note the big black on blue "D" sign. That indicates a Dolmuş stop.

Photo taken 8 Sep 1991.

İstanbul transport - minibuses

Minibuses waiting at Kadıköy

Inside a minibus - the driver places change on the fluffy rug so it doesn't slide off. He accepts money and makes change which is passed down the bus hand-to-hand, usually while driving (weaving in and out of traffic)

In all but a few places, minibuses have replaced the older dolmuşes*. They ply fixed routes, at minimal cost. Although the routes are a bit of a mystery to the uninitiated, if you've got a modicum of Turkish language skill you can generally find out which bus will get you to which destination.

The minibuses above are waiting at the terminus at Kadıkoy on the Asian side of the Bosporus, right near the ferry wharves, and extend out to the suburbs of the sprawling Asian side of the city. In future blogs we'll visit one of these Asian residential areas where we used to live.

The dolmuş - which literally means 'stuffed' - is a kind of shared taxi which takes a set route for a fixed fare, and leaves when full. Many Istanbul dolmuş are/ were magnificent old American cars like Chevvies. Here's a photo of one. And a collection. There are still such "shared taxis" but nowadays they are more likely to be a minivan.

Thursday, 17 August 2006

İstanbul transport - ferries

These ferries ply the waters around Istanbul and are always a great way to travel. You can usually buy snacks and tea on board from mobile vendors, and in winter, a particularly popular Istanbul drink - salep, a drink made from salep flour, which is made from the dried, ground tubers of a species of orchid.

Monday, 14 August 2006

Sunday, 13 August 2006

İstiklal Caddesi 7 - Markiz

From Lonely Planet Guide, Istanbul:

"In Pera's heydey, there was no more glamorous spot to be seen than Patisserie Lebon...The place to enjoy gateaux and gossip, it was favoured by the city's European elite, who dressed to kill when they popped in for afternoon tea...
Part of the patiserie's attraction was its gorgeous art-nouveau interior. Four large tiled wall panels had been designed around the theme of the four seasons by Alexandre Vallaury, the architect of the Pera Palas Oteli, and were vreated in France. Unfortunately, only two (Autumn and Spring) survived the trip from France - they have adorned the walls ever since. With chandeliers, fragile china, gleaming wooden furniture and decorative tiled floor, the place was as stylish as its clientele.
In 1940 the Lebon was taken over by Avedis Cakır, who renamed it Patisserie Markiz. It continued to trade until the 1960s, when Pera's decline and a lack of customers led to its closure. The building was boarded up and left as it had been. In 1977 it was added to the country's register of historial buildings, following lobbying by local artists and writers.
In late 2003 the patisserie reopened, and the frontage onto
İstiklal Cad has been magnificently restored and is once again serving delicious gateaux and tea to İstanbul's elite" (and tourists like me!).

Saturday, 12 August 2006

İstiklal Caddesi 6

The nearest I got to seeing the
İstiklal Cad tram on the day of my visit was the tram tracks. The tram was out of action for repairs. Note the traditional mode of delivery - the hand cart, and the simit seller's colourful wagon (simit are a delicious sesame-seed topped bread ring)

Friday, 11 August 2006

İstiklal Caddesi 5 - San Antonio di Padua

İstanbul or northern Italy? This Franciscan church was founded here in 1725; the presebt church dates from 1913. A cool and quiet haven for a rest on a hot
İstanbul day.

Pope John XXIII, pope from 1958 to 1963 preached in this church for 10 years while he was The Vatican's Ambassador to Turkey.