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.
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.
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.