Sunday, April 24, 2011

Impressions of Istanbul 3

Amid the new sights and sounds, foods and people, the glorious architecture and art treasures stand out. We had no time for all the places we would have liked to see, and sometimes weather and geography conspired against us.
Nevertheless, we managed to see the Blue Mosque, imposing in its exterior and vast inside, its subtly patterned carpet providing the lines for the faithful to stand shoulder to shoulder, its columns and domes devoid of any human representation, but intricate in Arabic script and interwoven patterns.

Blue mosque
At night
Windows and script
Script on column
Interior of dome
A man methodically vacuums the huge carpet, dwarfed by the soaring building. The low hanging lights are supported by many fine wires from above, seen in some of the other pictures

Across the park, Aya Sophia faces the mosque. Built as a church, later becoming a mosque, Attaturk displayed great wisdom in declaring it a museum. So now it retains elements of both faiths but without the rancour or bitterness associated with places such as Cordoba.
A return to the familiar elements of representations of angels and saints contrasted with the mosque interior. One poor guard was on duty to say “No flash” all day at the beautiful, damaged mosaics shown here. It didn’t stop some people from using flash anyway.

Aya Sophia
Aya Sophia with fountains at night

Remains of beautiful mosaicsangel
Angel Gabriel mosaic
Elements of Christian and Islamic faiths remain
Interior of dome
The marble railings above have had the cross chiselled away
The lights form patterns from above

Nearby was the Cistern of the Basilica, an underground cistern built to collect and store water. Rediscovered some time ago it has now had walkways built so you can wander through. It is mostly built of brick, and softly lit with orange lights it is a magical place. Carp live in the water and it is said that the cistern was rediscovered when someone thought to question why the locals were catching fish through the holes they had made.
The interior also has some strange stones, including two medusa heads, one sideways and one upside down, supporting two columns. There is also one column marked as if it is a palm tree trunk. It was not unusual for older sites to be plundered for columns and stones and some recycling to take place.

Medusa with her tresses in water
Palm like column

Next instalment, the Tokapi and Dolmabahce Palaces and the Archaeological museum.

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