The picture to the left is the Blue Mosque. The exterior is stunning, as you can see. The interior, while not
grotesque, did not meet the expectations of beauty I had held for it. Visitors are required to take off their shoes before entering and put them in plastic bags supplied outside. I’m grateful I decided on shoes that were easy to slip off. I learned on my tour that there are 2700 mosques in Istanbul. There are also 125 churches and 6 synagogues. All of this to serve a population of 13 million.
The most famous church of the city is the Hagia Sophia, or St. Sophia in english. It is made of Red Granite which attributes to it lasting for so long. Apparently red granite can withstand a lot weather wise. It’s picture is below on the left. The dome of the church is extremely wide, which you can’t really tell by looking up on the inside. The only way to really tell is by following all the X marks on the floor. They were placed around as a reference point for the builders.
Inside of the church were 8 of the plaques like the one to the right. All stood for something different. One was for Alah, because before it was a church the St. Sophia was a mosque. One is for Muhamed. And I honestly cannot remember what the other 6 stood for. I just remember they were pretty.
There were 2 other major sites I saw while in Istanbul, but only one has good pictures. The first, without a good picture, was the Topkapi Palace. Its use was discontinued in
the 1850s so it is no longer lavishly decorated. Most of it has been turned into a museum to showcase the religious relics and jewels of the royal family when they lived there.
The last site I went to was the Beylerbeyi palace. It was used by the Sultan as a
summer home and I could definitely see why. No pictures were allowed to be taken inside but the decorations were stunning. There was a very ornate chandelier in every room. Most of them were made one-of-a-kind from China or Persia. The ceilings were all painted. The carpeting was still original and some of the finest in Turkey. I learned while there that the difference between Persian carpets and Turkish ones is that the Turks use double knots while the Persians use single. It is situated right on the water with gates that lead right to private docks on the Bosphorus. The gardens of this palace are also amazing and include a secluded pool. I think I liked it most just because it was still so ornately decorated. The Rope Room was my favorite. Except for maybe the sitting room that included a wading pool and fountain in the middle. The tour guide claimed it was used as a cooling system because it was a summer house after all. I think the Sultan wanted to swim in his living room.