I’ve had the good fortune to be on a 5-day mid-semester break, including Republic Day and an extra day Nov 2 added on because of the elections. Some people have gone away, but with Dale away in Canada I decided I would stay and explore Istanbul. And that has been wonderful! On the Thursday I went with some of the other new teachers to explore the Sultanahmet, in the old city of Istanbul. We explored the Basilica Cistern (second time for me), the Blue Mosque, and the Hagia Sophia. It was the first time I’d been inside the latter two, and it was very rewarding. The Blue Mosque, built in the early 1600s, is stunning in its size, tiles, marble, and exquisite colours. One has to take off your shoes before going inside.
We next ventured over to the Hagia Sophia. We were approached by a tour guide to show us around, and we decided to do this. Even though this was a bit more expensive than I realized (I thought he had said 50 lira, but it turned out to be 50 euros, which is a bit different), it was still worth it as our guide Izzet gave us a lot of information in 30 minutes– I don’t think he stopped talking once. The Hagia Sophia was first built in 360, and after being destroyed a couple of times by riots and fire, it was rebuilt in its largely present form between 523-537 (think how old that is!). it is hugely impressive, with its central dome about 50m high and 30m wide, and its vast, open spaces. The Hagia Sophia started as a church, became a mosque in the mid-1400s, and converted to a museum in 1934 by Ataturk. Pictures hardly do it justice, but I will try:
First from the outside:
And from the inside. The first picture shows some frescoes from the second floor. In the fourth picture you can see scaffolding from the restoration being done of one side. The last picture is my attempt at a panorama.
After this, I made my way home, first walking across the Galata Bridge, which has lovely views, and swarms of fishermen:
I think I will finish this blog post here. But I have more to tell you about, including my exciting walking tour with new friends Henrik and Sevgi through the old city … stay tuned. In the meantime, I have under three days till Dale returns! She snuck off to Canada before her three-month tourist visa expires, and has been having a lovely time seeing family and friends. But she’s been missing all the excitement here, and I know she can’t wait to get back …
Bye for now everyone, keep well.
Terry (just Terry)