The main purpose of travelling to Istanbul was to fly there and back for 160 Tier Points only.
After checking into my hotel and with 14 hours till my return flight I decided to call upon the Uber gods for a taxi to the old city.
The Uber dropped me off in Sultanahmet near the Grand Bazaar. Sultanahmet, for those who do not know, is the name of the district with the monuments and historical buildings that tourists flock to view.
Walking through the narrow cobbled streets I was brought into a sea of tourists. I had arrived at the Sultan Ahmet Mosque or the Blue Mosque as it’s commonly known.
The Blue Mosque was constructed during the Ottoman Empire between 1609 and 1616. Directly opposite the Mosque is the Hagia Sophia (more on that later).
Although there were tourists taking pictures with their families (and making it difficult to capture a good picture for myself) the Mosque is open for prayers.
Before going into the Mosque you must undergo the washing or Wudu. The picture above shows the washing area made of marble and decorated in an ornate style to match the rest of the building.
The entrance to the Mosque is marked by this amazing Arabic script in gold above the archway. Before entering there is a sign reminding tourists to cover their head and to take off their shoes.
Due to my flight landing in Istanbul at 2pm and not arriving into Sultanahmet until 4:45pm I decided to not go inside to capture the rest of the city before the sunset changed the character of the city.
Hippodrome of Constantinople
Walking from the Mosque was a gate which lead me into the second sight of this trip.
Hippodrome of Constantinople was, as the name suggests, once part of the social scene of the Byzantine Capital. The main use of the Hippodrome was chariot races for which the hippodrome was designed with two parasol straights linked by curves to form the race track.
In the middle there were monuments to furnish this ancient race track.
The first monument was the Obelisk of Thutmose III. Thutmose III was a rule of Ancient Egypt who built obelisks decorated with hieroglyphics.
The Roman Emperor (The last Emperor of East and West Rome) Theodosius decided to bring culture to Constantinople and the obelisk was transported to sit in the middle of the Hippodrome.
As a result one of Ancient Egypt’s treasures now sits proudly in Turkey. The obelisk was placed upon a marble plinth which was decorated with depictions from Theodosius’s reign.
There are two obelisks in the Hippodrome, the second one is not as glamorous but still is valid as an ancient monument.
On the northern entrance stands a new monument (when compared to the ancient structures) which was built to commemorate the visit of Kaiser Wilhelm II to Istanbul.
The German Fountain is thusly called due to the taps erected on each side of the structure providing running water. While at the site this provided for amusement for several Chinese tourists.
Inside the fountain was decorated in a golden pattern to compliment the surrounding architecture, the Arabic script running on the border was a nice touch in decoration.
The Hagia Sophia is directly opposite the Blue Mosque and Hippodrome so it was the next destination on my trail.
Looks breathtaking doesn’t it?
The Hagia Sophia was built as a church during the last hurrah of the Byzantine Empire which was on a decline towards eventual dissolution. At one point this was the largest cathedral of the ancient world.
During the Ottoman rule the building was converted to become a functioning mosque, the minarets were added to signify the change of use.
I arrived past the opening time so I did not get to go inside and view the impressive dome from the inside…as I have another trip booked for February 2018 I’ll have to revisit.
For 007 fans From Russia With Love was filmed here with Sean Connery killing a henchman inside while a guided tour walked past!
Wandering Around Sultanahmet
After the disappointment of being unable to see the inside of the Hagia Sophia I ventured through the narrow streets.
As you can see from above the area is full of character, from the cobbled streets to the colourful buildings, road side dining Istanbul is a city with character. It was peaceful walking around and watching people having fun living their life in-front of my eyes…
Travel With H
Coming soon…Part two of my short stay in Istanbul