CruiseDay_7, Istanbul

Our ship docked by the Istanbul Modern Museum, north of the Golden Horn.

view of the city skyline.

The sleek city tram.

a Byzantine racetrack that became Istanbul's main square.

The German fountain in the Hippodrome.
It was a gift from Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1898.

The 1500 BC Egyptian obelisk that was brought here from the Temple of Karnak
during the 4th century AD. What you see today is only the upper 1/3 of the original.
The column behind is the Constantine Column, made locally in 4th century AD.

The remain of the 4th century BC Serpent Column in the Hippodrome.
We learned about this column while visiting Delphi in Greece in 2008.
This column stood at the Temple of Apollo in Delphi for 800 years
until it was brought to Constantinople in the 4th century AD.
Originally, the column showed 3 serpents twisted together, their heads
supporting a golden trophy. The gold was gone even before the reign
of Constantine the Great, but the heads survived until just
about 300 years ago - when they mysteriously vanished.

The Blue Mosque, built in 7 years (1609 - 1616) under Sultan Ahmet I.
The only mosque with 6 minarets. (The central mosque in Mecca has 7.)
But from this angle you cannot see all 6 minarets.
The huge dome is modeled after the one in Hagia Sophia.

The Blue Mosque's entrance for individual. (Tour groups have a separate entrance.)

Portico in the inner courtyard provides shade and shelter.

Our entrance to the Blue Mosque.
Free admission, but you need to take off shoes and carry it in a plastic bag.

Vast spaces inside the mosque for prayer.

Tourists inside the mosque

Blue-hued tiles decorating the interior of the mosque.

Tourist groups from around the world.

A model of the Blue Mosque, so that you may identify the locations of the 6 minarets.

Hagia Sophia, the Great Church of Constantinople.
Built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian in 537 AD, it was later converted
into a mosque by the conquering Ottomans, and now serves as a museum.
Needless to say, the minarets were added after 1453 under Ottoman rule.

The line to buy entrance tickets.

Hagia Sophia, with the enormous central dome.

stair way to the upstairs gallery.
I believe the Byzantine emperors and their compatriots
walked on the same stone. Do you?

View of the grand space from the 2nd floor gallery.

The apse.

A student marching band in the park between Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.

A student approached Mei-Ching for a survey.

A sweet shop offering samples of Lukom, Turkish Delight.

Many kinds of flower tea in the sweet shop.

Dried fruits in the sweet shop.

Sirkeci train station, once the Istanbul terminal of the Orient Express.

The restaurant in the station is named Orient Express.

A hall in the Sirkeci station.

Galata bridge, one of the 3 bridges spanning the inlet called the Golden Horn.
The lower level of this bridge is lined with restaurants.

We followed our guidebook to this fish sandwich restaurant,
on the east side of the bridge, the first one closest to the old town.

A fish (mackerel) sandwich with vegetables for 5 lira, about USD $2.80
I'll let you in that it was not as tasty as Rick's video made it to be, :-)
because the fish was cold, and the fillet still had small bones.

The restaurant where we had fish sandwich.

Other restaurants lining the bridge.

The 3-domed 350-year-old market hall is the Egyptian market, or Spice market.

Inside the Spice Market.

A spice vendor.

More spices.
Shops after shops selling similar stuff, and the Lukom did not look as if in high quality,
so we quickly lost interest, and left the hall.

In the evening we went to the modern New District on the north of the Golden Horn.
This is Taksim Square, the heart of the New District.

A bakery in the New District.

Istiklal street, the pedestrian thoroughfare in the New District.

Night view of the Bosphorus bridge, the first bridge spanning the
Bosphorus strait connecting European side with the Asian side of Istanbul.