Europe 2011

Istanbul: Historic buildings

Istanbul (previously called Constantinople) has been a major city for well over 2000 years, so it has a rich history. We saw only part of it, but here are some impressions.


The Instanbul skyline, punctuated by minarets rather than office blocks. *


This is the Aya Sophia. It was built as a cathedral in 537, and was the largest cathedral in the world until Seville Cathedral was completed in 1520. After the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire, it became a mosque. With the establishment of secular Turkey, it was declared a museum in 1935. †


This is the interior ... †


with the lights making interesting patterns. *


And the dome seen from floor level. *



An old and sadly damaged mosaic. †


And one that is less damaged. *


When the cathedral became a mosque, much of the Christian symbolism was removed. †


The exterior by night. *


Nearby is the Sultanahmet Mosque, known as the "Blue Mosque", built in 1617. *




The interior is beautifully decorated. *






As are parts of the exterior. †


And a night-time view. *


The Cistern of the Basilica is a remarkable place. Built as water storage, it was forgotten for many years. It now has only a small amount of water, with carp swimming around, and walkways and soft lighting have been installed for visitors. *




Although the columns would have been totally under water when the cistern was being used, some of them have carved designs, maybe because they had previously been used elsewhere. *


There were also two Medusa heads supporting columns, this one upside down. *


We also visited the Topkapi Palace, the home of the rulers of Constantinope for centuries. *


Fountain inside a courtyard at Topkapi. †


A window in the Topkapi Palace. *








A washing niche. *


The Galata Tower, seen from across the Golden Horn. *

Now go on to the National Archaeological Museum.


Copyright © 2011 by *Lynn Booth or †Nick Booth. Please contact us if you wish to use a photo.