Wednesday May 20th
Sites Visited: Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii), Ayia Sophia, Yeravatan Saray (Underground Cistern), Sokullu Mehmet Pasha Mosque
Where did we stay tonight?: Istanbul
Leaders: Ben Kahn and KT Holroyd
Today we woke up bright and early in our beautiful Istanbul hotel and were pleasantly surprised by the extensive and delicious breakfast extravaganza laid out for us. We all traipsed up to the roof garden to complete our background assignments for the day. Though we had a great view of Aghia Sophia and the Blue Mosque the wind was raging. Our guide for the day, “Bartch,” met us at the hotel and gave a brief introductory lecture to Istanbul and the sights we would be seeing.
We then took a short walk to the Blue Mosque very close to our hotel. We walked into the large courtyard and received a lecture about the history of the building and Islam. As we entered the mosque everyone was in awe of the impressive blue tile-work and painted designs along the ceiling. Perhaps dwarfing the artwork, however, was the great excitement of the group to finally see a definitive pendentive (not a squinch). After wandering around for a while we made our way across the park to the infamous Aghia Sophia. We had another lecture in the courtyard before entering the massive church-turned-mosque-turned-museum. We were all amazed by the massive open interior space and the domes looming above our heads. After taking the time to examine the Byzantine mosaics we made our way out to find some much needed sustenance. While some chose to try the Turkish version of the gyro, others dined upon pasta, rice balls, or shish kabobs.
After lunch, we descended into the looming depths of the Yerebatan Sarnici, or cistern basilica where we were confronted with over 300 columns lit up in a dark pool of water. At the back of the chamber we even found two upturned Medusa heads that had been reused in the construction of the cistern. Reluctantly returning above ground, we headed to the Sokulle Mehment Pasha Mosque which is now partially used as a religious school. As we got our lecture in the courtyard there were several young boys playing ping-pong and the Imam even came by to let us in personally. Unlike at the Blue Mosque, which was “tourist friendly” the ladies were required to put on head scarves, some worn more gracefully than others (Dallis may have had a little trouble with her bandana turned doo-rag turned yaya scarf). After admiring the beautiful tile work in the mosque we walked to the site of the ancient hippodrome, passing by four large monuments including a 1500 year old Egyptian obelisk, the serpent column (used to commemorate the Greek’s victory at the battle of Plataea), and a German fountain given to the Turks in the early 20th century. We said good-bye to our tour guide and all departed to work on assignments, rest, and prepare for another long day of sightseeing tomorrow.
Into Ayia Sofia:
Impressions of Ayia Sofia:
The evening call to prayer:
Day 60 Photo Gallery:
Alex M. and Joe enjoy breakfast and lecture on the hotel terrace with a view to the Blue Mosque.
Waiting for the group to assemble outside of our fabulous Istanbul hotel.
KT and Ben divvy up groups in a leaderly fashion as we wait outside of the hotel.
Circumspect dromoskyloi on the path to the Blue Mosque.
Alex A. makes a memory amongst the tour buses in the square in front of Ayia Sofia.
Group photo in front of the Blue Mosque.
Ablution facilities outside the mosque.
Walking through the court outside of the Blue Mosque.
The Blue Mosque.
Kait and Kathryn head into the mosque.
Inside the Blue Mosque.
A pendentive in the Blue Mosque.
Not in Greece anymore.
Kathryn poses for a photo in the mosque.
Kait, Alex M., KT, Ally, Kathryn, and Ben inside the Blue Mosque.
Profs. Christesen and Faro muster their brood during a break in the Sultanhamet neighborhood of Istanbul.
Alex and Kathryn in Ayia Sofia.
Interior of Ayia Sofia.
Attention focused above in the Ayia Sofia.
Ally and Jason admire the spectacle.
Ben, happy as always, at Ayia Sofia.
Alex takes notes in front of the impressive mosaics at Ayia Sofia.
A mosaic in Ayia Sofia.
A guy selling stale rings of bread balances his wares on his head.
The Yeravatan Saray (a large cistern under the streets of Istanbul.
Kait, KT, and Dallis enjoy the subterranean cool.
Ally Gorgonizes right before your very eyes.
Dallis and KT hold hands in the dank depths.
Charlie and Kate examine a strange column in the cistern.
Alex M. in the cistern.
Dallis and KT maneuver for a better perspective on a medusa-head column base.
Medusa column in Yerevatan Saray.
Lecture on a Turkish street corner outside of Sokolle Mehmet Pasha Mosque.
Climbing the stairs up to Sokulle Mehmet Pasha Mosque.
Turkish Delight piled up in a nearby store.
In the hippodrome.
Joe and the serpent column.
An obelisk base illustrating the transportation of an obelisk from the spina of the hippodrome.
Walking along the spina of the hippodrome.