Thursday, 31 March 2011

Sultanahmet area -some of the main sightseeings of Istanbul

Probably most of you have visited Istanbul or at least have heard a lot about that incredible city.In the following articles I want to share my view on this multicultural city with those of you who have been there and already have impressions and also to guide and give some more information to those of you who still haven't seen it.
We made this trip for only 4 days so what we could see was not everything we wanted. And that is why I came back here 2 years later and also I have the intention of doing it again and again cause I feel I won't be tired of it at all. But let's get back in my first visit in March 2008.
On the street
We were lucky to have a nice and warm weather,not to think about umbrellas or warm clothes.Of course our tour started from Sultanahmet area.First we visited Aya Sophia(St.Sophia).It used to be a church built in the middle of VI-th century in Byzantine until the Ottomans captured Constantinople when it has become a mosque.Then in 1935 the young Republic turned it into museum that is nowadays, one of the most visited in the city. Pictures and icons are still standing on the walls from the whole period of almost 1500 years. It's amazing how the history is kept in so many years.

Inside with the pictures on the walls 

Those icons are left from the Christian church
The next signuificant place of Turkish history we saw was Topkapi Palace that is located just behind Aya Sophia. On our way we met dozens of street traders trying to sell us postcards and tourist guides. I was surprised how many languages they knew(at least the words for the things they were selling).The Palace is really huge,4000 people were living there.It has been the main residence of the Sultan for around 400 years.An interesting part of the museum is the Harem where all the women of the Sultan have lived.In the whole yard there are beautiful gardens and at the end of the Palace the view to Marmar Sea and The Bosphorus is just amazing.Talking about gardens, there is no way to miss the wonderful green areas in the city.Flowers are everywhere - fresh and beautiful.
To go around the Palace and enter its main rooms you'd need at least half a day,it's hard to cover an area of 700 000 square meters for couple of hours!
The main entrance
In one of the inside yards
Dishes from the kitchen
Those beautiful flowers...
...and again...
and again...
Why the area is called Sultanahmet? Because of Sultan Ahmet mosque,mostly known as The Blue mosque,the first one with 6 minarets.A legend tells that Sultan Ahmet I has told the architect to build a mosque with altin minarets,meaning golden. But the architect has heard alti which means six in Turkish.But the Sultan liked the minarets so he didn't punished the architect.
It was my first time entering a mosque.Tourists enter not from the main entrance but from a side one. I knew that everybody gets inside only if he takes off his shoes.Women are also given hijab,a muslim headkerchief to cover their heads because no hair must be seen.
The mosque inside is big and nice.Blue tiles are covering its walls that is why the mosque is famous like The Blue mosque.I noticed that while men were praying in front of the mihrab,women standed behind them,at the end of the mosque. I read somewhere that they are separate because according their religion men just cannot be standing on their knees in front of women.
The Blue mosque

Maybe you see the silhuettes of the women behind the fence?
Part of the interior
The main entrance of the mosque is from Hippodrome square.It was built in 203 as a great facility for horse racing.Now it is a meeting point for the tourists.During the Byzantine Empire here were held daily reces,gladiator fights,bloodshed,weddings.Today only 3 massive columns indicate the ancient origin of this arena.The 5 meters tall Egyptian obelisk was brought from the temple of Apollo all the way from Karnak.The snaky column has the same origin. Imperator Constantine has contributed a further column also called the column of Constantine.
The lastest and newest building at the Hippodrome is the German Fountain from 1989.German Emperor Wilhelm II during his second voyage in the East has been impressed by the hospitality of Istanbul.When he reterned back to his country he issued the project of this elegant fountain and sent it as a gift to the city.
Egyptian obelisk
The snaky obelisk
The fountain

That tour is great to be done for a day,enjoying also the parks,the gardens and the streets in the most historical area of Istanbul.Next time I'll bring you shopping.


  1. great information about sultahmet and even better pictures. absolutely lovely

  2. Thanks for the good appreciation from a photographer :)