Heading off to a completely different corner of the world today – the city of Istanbul in Turkey! This is one of those must see cities of the world. Seriously, it has so much to offer. Located in the north-west of Turkey and encompassing both banks of the Bosphorus River, Istanbul is a city that spans and connects Europe and Asia. Given it’s geographical importance, it should come as no surprise to hear that settlements in the area can be traced back as far as the 7th Century BC!! With such a lengthy past is it no wonder it’s one of the world’s most fascinating places.
I’ve opted for a more photographic approach to today. The history is too long and the list of things to see in Istanbul is too great, so I’m selecting a couple of key points about the city. Apologies in advance for the quality of some of these photographs!
Construction on the historic Hagia Sophia commenced during the reign of Byzantine emperor Justinian I in 532AD, it’s original purpose being a Christian place of worhip. However, following the triumph of the Ottoman Empire over the Byzantines in the 15th century, the building was converted into a mosque. It remained this way until the mid-1930’s when it’s purpose was changed yet again … to the museum you see today. The dome of the Hagia Sophia has long been regarded as a pioneering move in architectural development. Now, I’m not a fan of organised religion of any sort but what I love about the Hagia Sophia is it’s ability to blend the history and beliefs of two of the worlds great religions – Christianity and Islam. The large disks you see in the second photo were put up when it was converted to a mosque, as the religious icons were prohibited. But as you see, there are now sections where those images have been uncovered and restored. It’s a testament to Turkey’s acceptance of people of all faiths.
Situated next to the Hagia Sophia and a short walk across the road is the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, or Blue Mosque. This stunning (and still functioning) place of worship got it’s “other” name from the thousands of small blue mosaic tiles that line its interior. Built in 1609, you can see that it has some similar architectural design features to the Hagia Sophia. It was a refreshing oasis of peace and quiet in this busy cosmopolitan city. I took my lunch in a nearby park, with wonderful views of these landmarks, the call to prayer ringing out over the city. It was an unreal experience.
Some other notable sights in Istanbul:
This post is part of my contribution to the April 2017 A-Z Challenge
For a list and links to my other challenge posts please click here
For those interested in revisiting my 2016 challenge post for I, here’s the link: Snapshot – Island Temple of Isis