Sunday, 16 September 2012

Turkish Delight - Istanbul

I'm back - this is rather later than I'd planned but I've just killed another laptop so I've been waiting for a replacement keyboard from Amazon ( what would we do without them).

Thousands of photos later, here are a few of the selected highlights from the last couple of weeks. Firstly Istanbul. Well where to begin? A huge vibrant city and a mix of the old and new. We didn't have time to fully explore the old city; never  mind the new.

So just  a few pictures then:

Firstly the  bronze Serpent pillar dedicated to Apollo from the Hippodrome. This is in the heart of the old city by the famous Blue Mosque. There are three serpents twisted together and it is known to be at least 2500 years old. The heads have sadly been removed but.....

......we found one in the museum! Terrible picture. I'm sorry but the glass was very reflective. At least you can't see much of me.

More from the museum. We spent hours in there and I could have filled the memory card here alone. This is a relief of Psyche. Love the "Tudor" style roses. This was a motif that cropped up time and again all over Turkey.

This is the Alexander Sarcophagus. Decorated with scenes depicting  Alexander the Great, the quality and preservation of this was incredible. It is virtually undamaged despite dating to 4BCE and traces of the original painted decoration are still evident.

The Istanbul museum holds many treasures including reliefs from the gates of Babylon themselves. Truly amazing.

However if I was to post all the pictures that are worth showing, this would be the longest blog post in history so moving on....

Under the streets of Istanbul are giant water cisterns. Despite the cathedral like appearance and its name, the Basilica Cistern its sole function is a reservoir for water ( and a fish pool). Built in the 6CE it was forgotten, rediscovered and then restored.

Hidden in the darkness are some real oddities including this head of Medusa. No I haven't got the picture upside down...

The next pillar has a further head of Medusa but at a 45degree angle. Obviously reused from the past there is no history of their original location.

You may recognise the location from the Bond film "From Russia with Love".

A couple now from the Topkapi Palace, the home of the Ottoman emperors. This was heavingly busy due to the number of cruise ships in the city but inside the harem it was much quieter ( costs extra to visit!

The whole palace was quite breathtaking with the quality of decor  - here is a small sample.

On now to the fabled Blue Mosque. Shoes off here and headscarf on. Far too big a space to photograph well so here is a snippet.

Finally for Istanbul was the Hagia Sophia, firstly a cathedral ( around 300CE ) then a mosque and now a secular museum it is also extremely popular with the cruise passengers.

Full of Byzantine Christian mosaics and paintings mixed with some surprisingly secular carvings and of course the ubiquitous  Turkish gold and blue this was an undoubted highlight of the city.

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