It’s Istanbul, not Constantinople

” … that’s nobody’s business but the Turks … ” The song goes.

I remember hearing this song a long time ago. It makes a lot of sense now that I’m finally in Turkey! The city of Istanbul used to be called Constantinople for many centuries under the Byzantine Empire. When the Ottoman Empire took over, our tour guide said that the name evolved over time into Istanbul. I’ve only been here for 12 hours and I’m already awed by the intricate beauty and intense history of the place. My favorite site so far is the Hagia Sophia … maybe because it epitomizes how the shift in power basically determined the religious faith of the Turks. The magnificent structure was once a cathedral (under the Christians) that turned into a mosque (under the Muslims) and is now a museum (under the new republic). The first thing I noticed when I walked in was its very high and awe-inspiring dome.

dome of Hagia Sophia

From the top of the museum, one can see the hanging chandelier, decorated columns and walls, and mosaics. The place has lost its solemn atmosphere but I can only imagine that this place of worship was once a place of reverence as believers commune with God.

view from top of gallery

We also visited the Blue Mosque. It has the distinction of holding six minarets as opposed to the usual four. A minaret is where the horn is sounded to call Muslims to prayer five times a day. The Blue Mosque was built across from the Hagia Sophia as a way to match Byzantine art with its own.

six minarets

I learned that there are four main parts to Islamic art as displayed in the mosques: painted tiles, stained glass, stylish calligraphy, and decorated carpets. I certainly saw the complex artistry of these elements put together in wonderful display inside the Blue Mosque.

tiles, glass, calligraphy ...

We also went to the famous Topkapi Museum. It houses the jewelry, relics, and historic valuables of the sultans of old. This is the entrance to the museum.

with Katrina and Su

At the end of the day, we stopped by the Bazaar. I got myself a box of Turkish Delight, some spices, apple tea, and a pair of gloves (I can’t believe I forgot to bring mine in this cold weather).

Istanbul Bazaar

All in all, today was a good beginning to what I hope to be a great tour of this fascinating country!!

I'm in Turkey! Like wow ...

3 Responses to “It’s Istanbul, not Constantinople”

  1. kim says:

    so, is my jacket warm enough for the weather there?

  2. kim says:

    i thought you said you had your scarf and gloves with you? :)

  3. mbcohao says:

    I have two scarves but I forgot my favorite gloves in my other jacket that I left there! :-( Your jacket is light and warm … thank you!! :-)

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