Saturday, May 4, 2013

Turkey 2013 - Istanbul Day 4 - Chora Church, Galata Tower, and Various Sights

Jesus mosaic, Chora Church

Today I did a lot of walking, starting by taking the tram to the Chora Church and walking back to Sirkeci via the Grand Bazaar. The end to end distance not counting the walking around inside the churches, mosques, and Bazaar was 5.7 km.

Chora Church. I thought I would have this place to myself early on a Thursday morning as it is definitely off the beaten tourist track. It is not easy to get to for the average tourist staying in Sultanahmet (two trams and some walking-searching), and there weren't that many daytour itineraries featuring it. But I was wrong and the church was mobbed. That being said, the artwork preserved here is amazing.  Just look at the photos and don't take my word for it.

Mary and baby Jesus on the inside of the Chora Church dome.

Fethiye Cami. Or otherwise known as the Church of Theotokos Pammakaristos, another early Christian church eventually converted to a mosque and now into a museum (like the Hagia Sophia and Chora Church), although this site is not nearly as old as either of those. It's also much smaller than Chora Church, and I had the place to myself. Literally. I was the only one there. The guard had to turn the lights on for me. Interesting mosaics preserved/restored/survived the Ottoman period.

Jesus mosaic, Fethiye Cami

Sultan Selim Mosque. Interesting but not much to write about.

Fatih Mosque. Interesting but not much to write about. Beautiful on the inside, though.

Star of David light fixture inside the Fatih Mosque

Laleli Mosque. Saw a nice HDR photo of the exterior of this mosque online and thought I needed to stop by to get my own photos. Like the Rustem Pasha mosque (see below) it was up a flight of steps from the street. Underneath is a small bazaar which I read was interesting but I skipped it. The mosque itself is different than most of the others. The small courtyard has a garden and the building itself has a kind of ramped side to it. See the pictures to see what I mean. This would be a good place to sneak off with your lunch during midday to get away from the busy-ness of the main street.

Laleli Mosque
Laleli Mosque

Grand Bazaar. I couldn't not walk through it once, but by now I had had my fill of the rug touts. I was hoping to get some good photos especially of the colored glass lamps but if you hesitate even a second outside a shop where the lamps are on display you have to deal with the shopkeeper. I walked through it and out the other side, without even trying to find some of the areas suggested on the walking tours (Rick Steves etc) like the various hans and courtyards. I did most of my souvenir shopping in the end within three or four storefronts of my hotel. Figured throw them the business. Also, once I shopped in their stores (the ones near my hotel, I mean) I felt better about taking pictures of their lamps!

Lamps at the Grand Bazaar

Zeynep Sultan Mosque

Zeynep Sultan Mosque. Right up the street from my hotel was this little mosque I could see from the street surrounded by a small cemetery. Didn't go inside but I walked around the grounds. Another place I had all to myself among the tourist crowds.

Taksim Sq. - Istiklal Caddesi.  Later that night I took the tram up to the end of the line, and the new funicular up to Taksim Square. There's a heritage tram line that runs from here south toward the Galata Tower.  The whole place was mobbed with people, and this was a Thursday night. Seems like all of modern Istanbul comes here in the evening to drink and eat and people watch. The tram line operation is somewhat sketchy. The whole time it took me to walk the 2km give-or-take from end to end the tram only passed me twice. I think there was only one car in operation. I was headed for the Galata Tower to be up top near sunset. Along the way there I ran into some folks I had met the day before on the "Other" Tour. So even though the city has millions of people it's still possible to run into people you know at random on the street!

Locals bumming rides on the Istiklal Cadd. heritage tramway.

Galata Tower. The view from the top of the Galata Tower is not to be missed and is especially nice at sunset. The tower's observation platform needs some crowd management, though. There is a tiny sign indicating people should walk around the tower to the right - but half the people don't bother to notice it and then there's a shoving match as the two circling groups of people constantly collide. There's really only room for a single file line to go around the top of the tower. Anyway, the view is great. Don't miss it.

Galata Bridge sunset. Finally, walked back to the hotel by way of the Galata Bridge just at sunset. Some nice views from there...

View of Sultanahmet from Galata Tower

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful images, Dave. Istanbul is an amazing place. I visited there all too briefly last year. Thank you for sharing your journey!