Crete Pilgrimage 2016 - Day 17

Turkey - Istanbul


After three days in central Turkey it was time to return to Istanbul. Our flight from Denizli to Istanbul departed at 7am, but it was a long drive to get there. The taxi picked us up at 5am, just after the local mosque had thoughtfully woken us up. The drive was without incident in the early morning and we were treated to a wonderful sunrise. We arrived at the airport early as the roads were good, no vehicles and the driver was practising for the local car rally championship. We sat outside in the cool of the morning and ate the boxed breakfast the hotel had provided, then went inside and checked in. Soon we were in the air and landing back at Istanbul for the third time. These local trips were all on Turkish Airways and we were pleasantly surprised at the modern aircraft and the service.

At Istanbul, we had booked a transfer from the airport to the hotel - unbeknown to us our tour leader had also booked a transfer so we had two drivers trying to take us into the city. We sorted that out and were soon at the Hotel Beyaz Saray. From there we walked around the old city, passing the Blue Mosque and Sultanahmet Square to the Basilica Cistern. We would be visiting some of these places the next day, so started underground where it was cooler.

The Basilica Cistern

The Basilica Cistern is located in the southwest of Hagia Sofia. It was constructed for Justinianus I, the Byzantium Emperor (527-565). As there used to be a basilica in the place of the cistern, it is also called Basilica Cistern. The cistern is 140 m long, and 70 m wide, covers 9,800 sqm area and has an estimated water storage capacity of 100,000 tonnes. The Cistern is made up of 336 columns, each of which is 9 m high and spaced at 4.80 m intervals. Many of the columns appear to have been taken from earlier Roman buildings as the head of the columns bear different features, 98 of them reflect the Corinthian style and the remainder reflect the Dorian style.

The Medusa Head
The Medusa, purloined from a Roman ruin and used as the base of a column
The Medusa Head - up the right way

Sultanahmet Square

From the Cistern we walked the short distance back to Sultanahmet Square with its gardens and fountains. Here we watched the people and looked at the range of architecture. We finihsed at the entrance to the Blue Mosque, knowing we would be back here in the morning on a guided tour.

Opposite the Cistern is the Talat Pasha mansion.
Grilled corncobs were everywhere
Sultanahmet Square
This is fine marble
Marble column
Travertine column.
Gneiss column. Much harder to work, so a more expensive column.
There were many of these lizards, but they were mostly too fast to photograph.
According to the scholars, there are backgammon boards.
The roadway was very rough and the stones very smooth.
Some of the slabs had been grooved to reduce the slip
Others had been roughened up.
The walls were amazing, straight and true
Glass roof covering an excavated house
These school girls would only walk on the frames, not the glass

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Last updated: 28/03/2017