Istanbul, not Constantinople

by arianambrand

I was staying just down the street from Sultanahmet square, the open park bordered on the south by the Blue Mosque:

and on the north by the Hagia Sophia Museum:

It was a pretty good location, is what I’m saying.

That first afternoon, I visited the Blue Mosque and took a bunch of photos of the famous blue tile that lines it, but they all came out kind of awful and blurry, as you can see here:

I was trying to get a sense of the massive scale of that building and it unfortunately didn’t work as well as I wanted. The columns you can see holding up the roof were at least eight feet in diameter, and the dome itself is massive. As tourists, we had to take off our shoes, cover our heads, and stay behind a wooden barrier so as to not disturb the Muslims who were actually trying to pray while we whispered and jostled and took photos. It was a really beautiful building, though, and I’m glad to have seen it. I especially loved the cascade of domes and hemidomes visible from the courtyard:

It’s a massive, gorgeous building. And it has so many minarets they had to add one more to the mosque at Mecca to prevent its being outshone.

That afternoon, Galen took the bus down from his university and met me for dinner. We walked down to the Golden Horn to see the view north across the water:

That’s Galatea Tower to the left there, and the blocky building to the right is on Taksim Square, generally acknowledged to be the modern center of Istanbul. They are at least a mile apart, as I learned to my sorrow when I later decided to walk between the two on an absurdly sore foot.

We wound up back at the old Hippodrome near Sultanahmet, where the original monuments down the  middle of the arena still stand:

Yours truly, with Egyptian obelisk.

Galen, with Egyptian obelisk No. 2 and Bosphorus University T-shirt to show that he belongs there.

Anyway, we had a lovely time, and the dinner (doner sandwiches with french fries in–it’s an Istanbul thing) was delicious. After dinner I followed a rainbow south to the edge of the Sea of Marmara and caught my first glimpse of the Anatolian Side (aka Asia):

The rainbow, with the Prince’s Islands visible behind it:

More blurry photographs of tiles here.