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)