Say what you will about Turkey and its current issues. I would have to say that Istanbul is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Set between two seas, with a history going back four millennium, Istanbul is chock full of “must see” sites. And our trip with the CTU visit to Istanbul covered the big ones — and some of the lesser ones.
The Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii) was to me the most dramatic. Built between 1609 and 1616, the structure still functions as a mosque to the faithful. My question — how in the Dickens do they hold up the roof and dome? Mercy! On arrival, Donna and the ladies needed to don head scarves to enter the mosque. And many of the women put on wrap-around skirts to cover their legs. And men with shorts? They did too.
The Hagia Sophia runs a close second. This orthodox basilica (later a mosque) now stands as a museum and point – counterpoint with the Blue Mosque on the landscape of Istanbul. The Hagia Sophia is a thousand years older than the Blue Mosque – with construction begun in 561 A.D. I’d love to meet the architects. . . . .
Topkapi Palace? Wow! From the time of its construction in the 1450’s, Topkapi was home to Ottoman Sultans until 1856. Topkapi holds some of the holiest relics of Islam including Mohammed’s cloak and his sword. While many of the rooms of the Palace are open to the public, a great many are closed. The Palace is guarded heavily by police and the Turkish military.
A visit to Istanbul wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the main shopping bazaar, the spice bazaar (Donna and I got lost), the beautiful Chora Church (amazing mosaics) and a boat ride on the Bosphorus. Would I go again? You betcha.