Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Ancient Cistern

Ancient Cistern

Ancient cistern that stored water and supplied the early city

Medusa column in the Cistern with her head down to eliminate her powers

Hagia Sophia-7th century Byzantine (E. rite Catholic) church

Hagia Sophia was built on the ruins of an even earlier church.

Blue Mosque - built in the 17th c. by the Ottomans

The Blue Mosque was built by the Ottoman Turks in order to compete? with the Hagia Sopia church nearby.

The Blue Mosque is called "Blue" because of the classic interior Iztik tiles made here in Turkey.
with our guide, Akim

Famous Blue Mosque

Istanbul arrival

Istanbul is the ancient Constantinople, which straddles two continents - Europe and Asia. It's huge, but not as overwhelming as some big cities, because it's low-rise and spread around the confulence of the Sea of Marmara and the entrance of the Bosporus Strait that connect the sea to the Black Sea. Sea traffic is huge and endlessly fascinating.

View of the Bosporus at dinner at Ocean 7 restaurant, near our Empress Zoe Hotel. We're in a perfect location in Sultanamet, just downhill from Hagia Sopia and the Blue Mosque. The hotel was created from an ancient Hamam (bathhouse), with a charming courtyard - a oasis of cool and quiet in a crowded city, a roof terrace that has fantastic views of the Bosporus Strait entrance and the Sea of Marmara, and the city the other direction.The rooms here are simple, but well furnished, including marble baths with both western showers and Hamam basins you fill with water and use a silver bowl to pour water over yourself. Lucky can hardly begin to describe our good fortune.

Last Day in Bucharest 'til next time!

We've loved our time with Alina, Chuck, Christie, and Andrei. By June 14, Chuck had left for his office's annual retreat at the Black Sea. We hope he'll drop by Granville on his way to San Francisco in the Fall. Can't wait for more visits with our family in Romania.