Sunday, July 21, 2013

"The Weather is Never like this in Istanbul"

Quite a busy day two in Istanbul today. 

We started our morning at 9:00 am by waking through the site of the old roman hippodrome and through to the "blue mosque". 

Unfortunately not much of the hippodrome survives, except for some of the artifacts that used to run the centre of the nearly half-kilometre stadium. The obelisk in the photo below was apparently a famous one from the temple of Amen-Ra, but as it was too large to be transported all the way to Constantinople when the emperor requested it, the Romans just took the top half away. You can see the cut lines right through some of the hieroglyphs. Ha!

The blue mosque is one of the most ornate in Istanbul, and was built by a sultan. And it is massive. Interestingly although it was built after the Hagia Sophia (about 1000ish years later?) it was not possible to build the dome quite as large (those crazy Romans). 

Hagia Sophia was next. A 1500 year old church built by the roman (and Christian) emperor Justunian. Magnificent, but unfortunately really hard to capture in a photo.

After the Hagia Sophia, we went with our guide to get some lunch, where we talked about Turkish politics and the weather. It was 30 degrees today, with a beautiful blue sky. Pretty hot, especially when hiking around. We asked if it was usually like this. "No - the weather is never like this in Istanbul in July. You were lucky. Usually it is unbearably hot."

Lucky us!

After that it was off to the spice market. Quite a busy district. No doubt we will be back as our guide told us you can get the best deals in town there on spices, clothes, touristy trinkets and fake watches. 

Interesting fact - Istanbul used to be called Constantinople, but changed some time after the Turks came to power. Apparent at that time nobody called it Constantinople, but the "City" instead. If you run your words together while saying "to the City", it sounds like Istanbul. Hence the name. 

Good dinner with some Turkish wine (like a Pinot). Then off to the square to see what was going on. Another bust day planned tomorrow, so it's time for bed (about 12:30 as we write). 

Talk to you all soon,

Paul and Aoife. 

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