Monday, December 30, 2013

Turkey for Christmas - Part 12

Cats & Dogs

India does not have exclusive rights to street animals -- although in Istanbul they seem to be limited to cats and dogs.

Black and gray tabbies are the most common. Sometimes the stripes are more like leopard spots.
Istanbul street dogs are on the large side -- 50 to 80 pounds. But like dogs everywhere, they specialize in sleeping.

And I saved my favorite for the last:
The "carpet cat" knew his camouflage!

Turkey for Christmas - Part 11

The Bosphorus

We're back in Vapi today after an overnight flight from Istanbul to Mumbai. The temperature is pleasant, the pollution is visible, and sunset is 6:06 rather than 4:45.

Our last day in Istanbul was cloudy, chilly, and breezy -- a good day to spend indoors.

We started at the Carpet Museum, then walked down the hill into Gülhane Park to the Museum of the History of Islamic Technology & Science, where, not too surprisingly, the Arabic contribution to astronomy and mathematics was highlighted. While the museum bemoaned the fact that Arabic math ended up being attributed to European popularizers, they minimized the fact that a lot of this math (e.g. the concept of zero) originated in India, but is credited to Arabic scholars.

The main walk through Gülhane Park.
After spending about 3 hours standing on stone floors, we walked down to the waterfront and took a two-hour cruise on the Bosphorus. It was nice to be sitting in a relatively warm place.

The tour boats just barely fit beneath the Galata Bridge.
It seems that there's a mosque on the water every km or so.
The Dolmahbaçe Mosque is just to the right of the Kabatas ferry pier.
(And, yes, there are problems taking pictures through windows.)
The sultans liked to build summer palaces along the Bosphorus.
This is the Dolmabahçe Palace.
A hilly neighborhood behind yalis (villas) on the Asian side of the Bosphorus. 
One of two bathing pavilions (men and women) at the Beylerbeyi Palace.
The Kiz Kalesi (Maiden's Tower) where the Bosphorus meets the Sea of Marmara.
After the cruise, we walked back to our hotel through the narrow streets near the Suleymaniye Mosque.

The markets and bazaars are not for people who can't handle crowds!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Turkey for Christmas - Part 10

Around Sultanahmet

There's really nothing to tie these photos together, but they give you a feel for the neighborhood.

Sue at the Archaeological Museums.
Down the lane from the Archaeological Museums.
Sogukcesme Sok -- the street between the Topkapi Palace courtyard and the Ayasofya.

Turkey for Christmas - Part 9

Ceramic Tiles

If there was one subject that summed up today's sights, it would be the incredible beauty of the ceramic tiles and mosaics used in Istanbul -- from Byzantium to Constantinople to Istanbul. Ceramics ties it all together.

The oldest tiles we saw were those in the Mosaic Museum, which preserves mosaic floors and walls from the Great Palace of the Byzantine Emperors, and date from the 5th Century. The structure was discovered in the 1930s and were extensively restored in the1970s.

Many of the mosaic figures are from mythology and show quite a bit of violence and blood.
The mosaics in the Ayasofya are the next oldest -- see Part 4 for photos.

Topkapi Palace is filled with tiled walls, ceilings, and floors. Here is a sampling from the harem.

The Archaeological Museums have a whole building, the Cinili Kiosk devoted to ceramics. The building itself is an example of a structure that was entirely clad, inside and out, with tiles.

Contemporary with these ceramics are the tiles in the Blue Mosque -- see Part 7 for photos.

The most modern mosaics were found in an exhibition in the Archaeological Museums -- 20th Century replicas of 5th and 6th Century mosaics found in Ravenna, Italy.

Turkey for Christmas - Part 8

Topkapi Palace

The sultan's residence is composed of numerous pavilions, courtyards, residences, and supporting structures (kitchens, treasury, library). The harem ("forbidden" area) was the residence of the sultan's wives, concubines, children, and their African eunuch guards.

The gate into the main part of the palace grounds.
Pavilions at the far end of the palace grounds -- overlooking the Bosporus and Golden Horn.
A pebble-mosaic walkway. The texture allowed horses to travel the walkways without slipping.
A view of Beyoglu and the Galata Kalesi.
More proof that we were there!

Turkey for Christmas - Part 7

Blue Mosque

(more accurately the Sultan Ahmet Mosque)

Unlike many places, mosques in Istanbul allow non-Muslim visitors inside except during prayers. It's an amazing structure -- truly beyond words.

Inside the mosque courtyard.
This support pillar (one of four) is 5 m (16 ft) in diameter -- massive.

The center dome.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Turkey for Christmas - Part 6


It's no secret that most tourists spend a lot of time shopping in Istanbul. It seems that there's a bazaar around every corner. It's pretty much assumed that a tourist is shopping for rugs (at a minimum).

The two most famous bazaars are the Spice Bazaar (mostly, but not entirely, devoted to food and spices) and the Grand Bazaar where everything imaginable -- and more -- is for sale.

The Spice Bazaar
Spices and more
A narrow lane between the Spice Bazaar and the Grand Bazaar.
One of several washing stands in the Grand Bazaar. People washed everything from dishes to feet here.

Turkey for Christmas - Part 5

Istanbul - Below and Above

First stop today was the Basilica Cistern. It was built in the 6th Century to supply water to the Great Palace (no longer in existence). The water comes from the Belgrade Forest 20 km away. Since it was underground and not visible, the Ottomans did not know about it for over a century.

Many of the columns were recycled from Roman temples. Also "recycled" were three scuptures of Medusa used for column supports. Two Medusas were placed on their side and one is upside down. No one really knows why.

After returning above ground, we walked across the Galata Bridge and up the hill to the Galata Kalesi for a bird's-eye view of Istanbul. It was well worth the climb!

The Galata Kalesi dominates the Beyoglu district
The Ayasofya and Blue Mosque from the Galata Kalesi.

Turkey for Christmas - Part 4

Istanbul -- Ayasofya

(That's easier to type than "Haghia Sophia")

This 6th Century cathedral turned mosque turned museum is too huge to capture in photos. (But why let that stop me?)

The exterior of the Ayasofya at sunset.
The original mosaic images were covered with plaster and paint in the Ottoman era.
Many of them have been uncovered and restored after the building became a museum.
This one is over the original entrance.
The ceiling in the narthex.
The interior of the Ayasofya showing the blend of Christian and Muslim design.
The chancel area. Note how the mihrab (niche) below the windows is not aligned with the windows.
The cathedral faces east, the mihrab faces Mecca and was added when the Ayasofya was converted into a mosque.
A number of other additions are also aligned to this angle.
The center dome: It is 56 m (182 ft) high and 33 m (108 ft) in diameter.
Sunset view from a south-facing window in the Ayasofya.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Turkey for Christmas - Part 3

Old Bazaar

From the base of the castle to the bottom of the hill is the old bazaar area of Ankara. There are also numerous shops and cafes along the alleys leading to the castle.

Shops along the base of the castle walls.
Bags of pulses (mostly beans and lentils.
More shops. You can see the top of the castle peeking out above the roofs.
(In Part 1, the photo of John & Mandi was taken while they were on the top of that wall.)
The carpet and textile shop where we made some purchases.