While Andy was enamored by the Blue Mosque, I was even more impressed by the crumbling, eastern-gothic beauty of the Hagia Sophia, which was our next port of call.
Built in 537, this building has seen it all. Beginning as a Greek Orthodox cathedral and seat of the Patriachate of Constantinople, the Hagia was then converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral during the rule of the Latin Empire, then back to Greek Orthodox, then converted to a Mosquue when Constantinople fell to the rule of the Ottoman Turks, and finally became a museum.
It is also gargantuan- for nearly 1000 years it was the worlds largest cathedral- until the Seville Cathedral finally overtook it in 1520.
With the in-laws: Andrew, Barbara, Sandra.
A cross, subtley covered up to look more Mosque-y:
The Deesis mosaic, built (~1261) to commemorate the switch from Roman Catholic back to Orthodox
Virgin and Child with Justinian I and Constantine I.
Empress Zoe Mosaic. From the 11th Century, with Constantine IX on the left and Empress Zoe of the right- they are shown donating money to the Hagia.
And, in similar style, The Komnenos mosaic- John II Komnenos and his wife Eirene, also donating money.
When we’d finished awe-gazing at the Hagia, we headed towards the spice market.
Past the Amazing Fortune-Telling Rabbit (Andy wouldn’t let me have him tell my my future though!)
Past some more mosques…
… and passed a turkish-delight shop, where some of us tucked in.
The Spice Market is situated across from yet another beautiful mosque…
… and right next to a market featuring in pet food, pets, and animals of the- uh- ‘medicinal’ kind.
Trying to escape!! And apparently sold by someone who was a ‘Professor Doctor!’
The spice market was filled with, as expected, spices- as well as turkish delights, dried fruits and teas. But, like the Grand Bazaar, was a bit of an overwhelming experience.
We didn’t spend too long in the markets. Afterwards- being too lazy to walk back up the hill to the hotel- taking a tram and funicular ‘above’ the hotel to Taksim square (downhill=easier!).
We went out for dinner with the extended family, and arrived back at the hotel to consume the birthday cake that the Witt had kindly left for Mari-Anne.
Happy Belated Birthday!