I have been spending my days off for the past couple of weeks in Sultanahmet and its surrounds which is the older part of the Istanbul city.
The Aya Sofia used to be a beautiful Basilica church that was converted and reconverted over time. I can’t believe that restoration works to this place only began in 1997. How could you as a nation be so negligent towards history is beyond me. (And this only once again forces me to compare Fiji to Turkey.) Hence restoration works is still in progress which explains the scaffolds in the photos.
Popularly known as ‘The Blue Mosque’. Because entry is free and because I went on a Friday (prayer day) I stood in the line to get in for almost an hour and a half! It definitely was worth it. However it is unfortunate and perhaps not even merited to write about it but because my memory of this place will always be tainted by it, I have to. The mosque unfortunately smelt of sweaty feet. Feet of thousands of tourists who visit the place per day. You have to remove your shoes and put them in plastic bags and carry them inside. It was most unfortunate and almost gagged. However the mosque itself was pretty impressive.
Now I have a thing for palaces. The whole history, the royal courts, the chambers, the love sagas, the adultery it gets me like nothing else. So whenever I have to visit a palace, you know I’m excited to burst kinda excited. I couldn’t sleep the night before I visited Topakapi Palace so I’m not sure whether it was the lack of sleep or whether I had expected too much but I was relatively disappointed. I had even lined my ipod with all my fav songs from Jodha Akbar. It wasn’t as grand. It was great definitely burrtt yeah. Verdict – I think Indian palaces are just soo much more finer.
I have definitely enjoyed and taken my time to walk through these wonderful places. The only thing is that they are always too crowded. There is no time to visit that you might find a lull in people moving. As such sometimes the most wonderful places can seem…a little impersonal. I like to take my time with history and also in silence. Unfortunately Old istanbul is just as the rest of Istanbul – busy, crowded and loud!