Istanbul is a magical city that will quickly cast its spell on you shortly after you arrive.
We started our day visiting the Dolmabache Palace on the bank of the Bosphorous. While we certainly admired the things we saw in the palace; we were particularly impressed by the serenity of the gardens outside the palace. What a bliss it was, sitting on the benches in the garden, looking through the tall white ornamental fence by the Bosphorous strait; watching ships passing by under a blue sky.
The Blue Mosque acquired its name from the more than 21,000 distinctive blue tiles that decorate the interior. Gazing at the magnificent Blue Mosque , we couldn’t help admiring at marvels of architecture and the vastness of the column free space.. . . . . the Blue Mosque can accommodate 10,000 worshippers. No cathedrals in Europe are able to accommodate so many worshippers. The Blue Mosque seems to have made use of multiple domes and did not try to be tall giving a majestic notion. The cathedrals in Europe, on the other hand, adopt domes sparingly and try to be tall, thereby having to resort to flying buttresses and other features to provide the lateral stability. In so doing, the amount of column free space inside the cathedrals are reduced.
Hagia Sophia is probably the most famous example of Byzantine architecture in the World. It was built as a cathedral, then it became a mosque and today it is now a museum. It is where you can see Christianity and Islam under one roof. It was amazing to see images of Christianity next to Arabic calligraphy or mosaic. The spacious nave of Hagia Sophia is covered by a lofty central dome carried on pendentives, a device not previously employed in monumental construction. Pendentives make possible support of the dome on a square framework of four huge equal arches resting on huge piers. The arches at the east and west are extended and buttressed by great half domes, while the half domes in turn are carried on smaller semidomed exedrae.
We sat down on the steps of this beautiful mosque and observe the daily rhythms of life – in this predominantly Muslim yet secular country, the mosques are as much a focal point of social life as they are places of worship.
Wander and haggle through ancient grand bazaars and spice markets was a unique experience. It’s the most mind-blowing and totally new shopping experience you could ever imagine. The Grand bazaar was full of colors; from the lanterns to colored rugs and scarfs. It is where you can pretty much buy everything known to man (from jewellery, to figs, to coffee, to bags, to belts, to furniture and furnishings). Tired, we sat down in a cafe within the bazaar and tried out a Turkish coffee.
Night life of Istanbul is legendary. When the sun goes down and the lights come on, Istanbul becomes the big scene for nightlife with incredibly various options. The city switches into a vibrant mode of night life action. There was so much night life as we walked down the main street with many pedestrians and trams running in the middle.
Approaching dinner time, we decided to go to a restaurant where there was belly dance performance. The dance was so lively and attractive that most diners just concentrated on the dance instead on the food. The dance was more of an art than a performance!
There is so much life and so much to see in Istanbul. What has been said for London also holds true for Istanbul; if you are tired of Istanbul, you are tired of life!