Journey to Old Town Istanbul

Posted on January 12th, 2012 by

Strolling through the tiny streets of Istanbul!

As the title of this blog entry might suggest our first full day in Turkey was spent in Old Town Istanbul, and therefore, was historically based.  As a history buff, I knew that I was going to thoroughly enjoy learning the history of each destination on the schedule for today, but to say that I merely enjoyed today would be an understatement. We certainly did our fair share of walking today, for our hotel is in Sultanahmet (an Old Town Istanbul neighborhood) and very close to all of these wonderful historic sites.  (For me this means to me that I had rest my legs at the end of the day due to my injury prone knees.)

The Obelisk of Theodosius

Anyway, moving away from my destroyed knees… we kicked our day with a quick, delicious breakfast of yogurt, fruit, hard-boiled eggs, and of course fresh bread and began strolling the streets of Istanbul in the direction of the Hippodrome of Constantinople. Back in the days of Emperor Constantine (Constantine the Great) the hippodrome featured horse racing and chariot racing, as well as, a myriad of other sporting and circus type events. Now, it houses pigeons and tourists all gathering to enjoy the so called Obelisk of Constantine Porphyrogenitus (so named after a “Gladiator” turned politician), the Serpents’ Column (so named for the four headed serpent that no longer is there), the Obelisk of Theodosius (originally made for Thutmose III, who ruled Egypt from 1479 to 1425 B.C.E, but was then collected by Emperor Theodosius in 390 A.D.), and the fountain of Sultanahmet square used during the Islamic period of fasting, or Ramadan). I enjoyed walking around this “park like” area, but for me that was definitely not the highlight of the day.  The highlight of my day was visiting Hagia Sophia (which in Greek means Holy Wisdom) and the Sultanahmet (Blue) Mosque.

Tile mosaic of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus in one of the semi-domes of Hagia Sophia

Not only did I enjoy the history of and historical significance of these two religious relics, but they were absolutely beautiful.  I mean I have seen pictures of these both of them before, but there is nothing quite like being up-close to the beautiful mosaics of Hagia Sophia and the gilded golden and blue tinted tiles of the Blue Mosque.  I was completely blown away by the extraordinary detail of these two gigantic houses of worship.  I cannot fully express how much I loved these two sites.  In fact, I think that the only way to show to you the true beauty of these sites is through the photographs included in this entry.

The Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Mosque)

On top of all of these beautiful and historical sites, the food here in Turkey has been just as wonderful.  There is nothing like a good bowl of green lentil soup to warm you up on a cool Istanbul afternoon.  Anyway, I am still a little jet-lagged and would like to do some reading tonight, so I am going to end this post here.  Therefore, from all of us here in Istanbul, güle güle (Goodbye).


One Comment

  1. Mary L. McDaniels says:

    Hey, Maryam.

    Great description of the sites and their significance to your trip. Take care.

    Love ya and güle güle, Mom