After a good night’s sleep, Patricia and I met our guide and explored this part of Istanbul on foot for about 8 hours. We were inside the Blue Mosque, which is not blue on the outside but is covered with blue tiles on the inside. The size of the interior was impressive, but I think the tiles, caligraphy, mosaics, and massive architecture all compete for superlatives. I have posted a few pictures of that on the gallery page but here is one for this message.
The Blue Mosque
We moved on to the Topkapi Palace. Despite reading the guide book, I had no real idea of how large the Topkapi complex was. There was lots of open space and many buildings that served the Ottoman empire for years. Some entire buildings have been turned into museums. We were fortunate to see the yearly performance of an Ottoman-style military band. One building had 3 large rooms devoted to the display of gold, silver, and gems. Another building consisted of a single room called a “library” but it seemed more like a reading room. IT had a view of the water (there is water in 3 directions on the complex grounds) and I can see why you would want to spend hours in the room reading. Here is a picture taken at the Topkapi Palace.
Detail of dome in reading room in Topkapi
We took a break for lunch with our guide at what I would call a tourist restaurant and had typical Turkish food, much of which was similar to what we had Sunday evening. It was an enjoyable meal and our guide continued to tell us about Turkey and Istanbul.
After lunch we went to one of the many underground cisterns that are under the city. This one was built in the 5th century by the Romans. [Our restaurant was sited above the cistern.] While we knew about the cisterns, we could not have imagined the sheer scale of the construction. I doubt that they are still used to collect water for the city, but there was still plenty of water. The space was so vast that it was difficult to get good pictures, but here is one attempt.
After we climbed back into the sun, we headed over the hill to the Grand Bazaar. Unlike the bazaar I saw in Egypt, this one is under a permanent cover. It was colorful and crowded and noisy. There was street after street of stalls and shops selling rugs, silver, ceramics, costumes, leather, and of course, tourist junk. As you might expect, if you slowed down or looked at something, someone would step up and say “you want to spend some money?” or “No one gets better price” or “I make a special deal for you.” I am sure Patricia enjoyed the Grand Bazaar more than I did. Here is a picture from the Bazaar.