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Friday, October 31, 2014

Istanbul - day three

The weather deteriorated in Istanbul during the course of our stay and on the way home last night we go pretty wet though the first part of the day was nice. Day three also started ok and Sam and I set off for Aya Sofya. The Aya Sofya was commissioned by the great Byzantine emperor, Justinian, consecrated as a church in 537, converted to a mosque by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1453, and declared a museum by Ataturk in 1935. As Lonely Planet says, "the Aya Sofya surpasses the rest due to its innovative architectural form, rich history, religious importance and extraordinary beauty." As with the Blue Mosque, I'll let the pictures speak for it.

After the Aya Sofya we visited the Istanbul Archaeology Museums, a cluster of museums housing archaeological and artistic treasures from the Topkapi collections.

Onwards to the Basilica Cistern, an underground cistern also commissioned by Justinian in 532 using 336 columns and capable of holding 80,000 cu meters of water delivered through 20km of aqueduct.

Then a tram to the spice market with a tasty döner sandwich along the way. The spice market was similar to the Grand Baazar in being a tourist trap with very aggressive vendors. Not worth much time.

In the same area is the New Mosque. Only in Istanbul would a 400-year-old mosque be called new. It's another beautiful, richly adorned mosque and, of course, is in use so we removed our shoes and checked it out.

That night was our crowning food experience in Istanbul. We went back to the Taksim area and found the restaurant, or rather, Sam found the restaurant we'd looked for previously, Zubeyir Ocakbesi. There were two levels and in the middle of each dining room was a grill where the grill man cooked the kebabs, roasted peppers and warmed the pide (pita) and wraps. It was fun watching him cook amidst clouds of smoke and the food was delicious.

So ends our last evening in Istanbul



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