Day 1, April 20th

Day 1, April 20th                   Advance to day 2   |    Topkapı Palace Pix   
Today is our first full day in Turkey. We are in Istanbul and will be visiting the Topkapı Palace (see separate slide show), the Blue Mosque, the Hippodrome of Constantinople, and the Grand Bazaar. We visited the Süleymaniye Mosque (See Wiki) and had dinner at a nearby site that used to be a “Soup Kitchen”.

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View from the roof-top restaurant at our hotel. You can see the Topkapı palace, Hagia Sophia (four minarets), and the "Blue Mosque" (Sultanahmet mosque) (six minarets) on the other side of the Golden Horn.

Here is a panorama from our hotel's restaurant which features the Bosphorus, the strait that separates Europe and Asia.

A courtyard at the Topkapı Palace.

Waiting to get into the Blue Mosque; the line looks bad, but the wait was not long.

The grand dome of the Blue Mosque.

Photo by Peter

A view of some of the semi-domes and two of the four massive columns supporting the large, center dome.

Photo by Peter

Another view, showing one massive column, with people for scale.

Photo by Peter

Photo by Peter

A panorama of the inside of the Blue Mosque which attempts to show how open this building is. All 4 columns are visible.

A view of the Hagia Sophia - we'll visit the Hagia Sophia tomorrow.

Here are Jan and Dan in front of the Pudding Shop. Dan visited here in his younger years while backpacking around Asia/Europe.

A view of the Hippodrome of Constantinople with the Blue Mosque in the background.

Photo by Peter

Within the Hippodrome, here is Thutmosis' Obelisk. The wiki for the Obelisk indicates "The obelisk was first set up by Tutmoses III (1479–1425 BC) to the south of the seventh pylon of the great temple of Karnak. The Roman emperor Constantius II (337-361 AD) had it and another obelisk transported along the river Nile to Alexandria to commemorate his ventennalia or 20 years on the throne in 357. The other obelisk was erected on the spina of the Circus Maximus in Rome in the autumn of that year, and is today known as the Lateran obelisk, whilst the obelisk that would become the obelisk of Theodosius remained in Alexandria until 390, when Theodosius I (378-392 AD) had it transported to Constantinople and put up on the spina of the Hippodrome there....The Obelisk of Theodosius is of red granite from Aswan and was originally 30m tall, like the Lateran obelisk. The lower part was damaged in antiquity, probably during its transport or re-erection, and so the obelisk is today only 18.54m (or 19.6m) high, or 25.6m if the base is included. Between the four corners of the obelisk and the pedestal are four bronze cubes, used in its transportation and re-erection." We have heard from 2 sources that this Obelisk also likely sat on a dock for some time (years) waiting for someone to figure out how to position it. I wonder about this since the obelisk destined for Rome was transported and installed in the same year - so someone in the empire knew how to handle this. That the Obelisk was removed in 357 and not installed until 390 is interesting too.

Within the Hippodrome, here is Serpent Column. The wiki indicates "The Serpentine Column has one of the longest literary histories of any object surviving from Greek and Roman antiquity — its provenance is not in doubt and it is at least 2,490 years old. Together with its original golden tripod and bowl (both long missing), it constituted a trophy, or offering, dedicated to Apollo at Delphi. This offering was made in the spring of 478 BC, several months after the defeat of the Persian army in the Battle of Plataea (August, 479 BC) by those Greek city-states in alliance against the Persian invasion of mainland Greece..."

Peter trying to return to the Hippodrome.

Our bus, transporting us to the Grand Bazaar.

The inside of the Grand Bazaar.

Photo by Peter

Here is a good spot to get your money changed. Note the spread -- 1.797 to 1.802 -- only a quarter of a percent. So much better than other places that we encountered. This is within the Grand Bazaar.

The roof here consisted of brick domes.

Photo by Peter

View of the Grand Bazaar. The roof in this part is a succession of brick domes.

Photo by Peter

After visiting the Grand Bazaar, we went to the Spice Market.

Turkish Delight and it is delightful. I never know how much variety there was in Turkish Delight. Lots of flavors of fruits, nuts, honey...ummm.

More spices - great colors.

Outside of the Spice Market, leeches were being sold - an ancient remedy getting increased attention in recent years. Try Googling "leeches in medicine". The most interesting item I saw was "leeches in medicine" [nbcnews.com]

Our group walking towards the Süleymaniye Mosque.

Süleymaniye Mosque

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See next day’s page.