Old City Corner
I spent three full days in Istanbul. At 8 a.m. each day, I met my tour guide, Gamze, at the Starbucks at Taksim Square. From there, we would hop on the metro together (I would never have attempted it on my own—too confusing!) and head to the Old City. My first day, we saw the Hippodrome of Constantine, Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern, Blue Mosque, Spice Bazaar, Rustem Pasha Mosque, and many other sights along the way.
In today's post, I'll share photos of the sights Gamze and I saw after leaving the Basilica Cistern.
The Blue Mosque. The Sultanahmet Mosque, or Blue Mosque, was built between 1609 and 1617. It was commissioned by Sultan Ahmet I with the idea of building a monument that would not only rival Hagia Sophia, but surpass it…
For this reason, Ahmet I built the Blue Mosque directly across from Hagia Sophia, near the Hippodrome of Constantine. The Blue Mosque combines traditional Islamic architecture with Byzantine elements, similar to the adjacent Hagia Sophia. It has six minarets—more than any other mosque—and, although not quite Hagia Sophia's equal (Ahmet I was short on cash), it is indeed magnificent. Alas, it was under construction when I visited, and, hence, my photos were less than stellar.
The Blue Mosque
Old City Sights. I loved the mixture of old and new in the old city. In the below images, you see brightly-colored buildings, a street along an old city wall, a wall made with pottery shards, three corner buildings, the entrance to the spice market, and a stairway to heaven. :D
Old City Sights
The Grand Post Office. The Grand Post Office is Turkey’s largest post office. Located in the heart of the city in the Sirkeci District, the magnificent building was designed by architect Vedat Tek and is a symbol of Ottoman modernization. Construction of the building started in 1905 and took four years.
The Istanbul Grand Post Office
The Spice Bazaar. Built in 1664, as part of the Yeni Camii (New Mosque) complex, the Spice Bazaar is known in Turkish as Mısır Çarşısı, and sometimes translated to "Egyptian Bazaar" or "Corn Market." ("Mısır" means both Egypt and corn in Turkish.) The bazaar is full of stores filled with fragrant spices, dried herbs, dried fruit, candy (including Turkish Delight and halva), olives, cheese, and more.
The New Mosque. Interestingly, to be considered historical or "old," a building must be at least 1,000 years old in Istanbul. The New Mosque was the last of the great mosques built by Ottoman sultans. Its foundation was laid in 1597 by Sultan Safiye; however, for various reasons, such as the Great Fire of 1660, it was not completed for 66 years.
The Spice Bazaar and New Mosque
The Rustem Pasha Mosque. The Rustem Pasha Mosque is a hidden gem near the Spice Bazaar. It is sometimes described as a miniature Blue Mosque without the crowds. (Gamze and I were two of only a few people inside when we visited.) The mosque was designed by the famous Ottoman architect, Mimar Sinan for Rüstem Paşa, Grand Vizier to Süleyman the Magnificent. However, Sinan died in 1561 before it could be completed in 1563. What makes this mosque unique is the gorgeous interior, covered in Turkey’s famous Iznik tiles. These intricately designed blue tiles come in a wide variety of floral and geometric patterns.
The Rustem Pasha Mosque
Call to Prayer in the Square. I'll end this post with a video of the square during the afternoon call to prayer. It's such an unusual, interesting city! The mosque I walk towards at the end is the New Mosque.
Sources: turkeytourorganizer.com, grandsirkeci.com, wikipedia, instanbultourstudio.com, blue mosque