Chuck Hillig's Travel Blog

Well, I'm going to be doing a lot of traveling over the next 6-7 months so I thought that I'd better re-activate my travel blog. The last time I posted anything here was way back in 2006 when I was traveling through SE Asia. Feel free to read my entries back then about my earlier adventures through India,Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, the Philippines and Hong Kong. This time (at least for the next six weeks), I'll be traveling through Greece and Turkey.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Around Istanbul.....

On Monday morning, I took an all-day tour that covered some of the highlights of the city.   We first visited the very impressive Chora Museum which has an incredible collection of mosaics and paintings on the walls depicting mostly scenes of Christ, Mary and the saints.  Afterwards, we went to the Sultan Ahmed Mosque which is better known to Westerners as the "Blue Mosque" because of its thousands of blue tiles that are on its interior walls.    The building was initially commissioned by 19-year old Sultan Ahmed and completed in 1616.   It is supported by four massive stone pillars each about 17-feet in diameter, and the main hall can easily hold 10,000 worshiper at the same time.   It has six minarets and lies only a few hundred yards from the equally-famous Hagia Sophia..  We spent about an hour visiting some of the 4000 + shops in the Grand Bazaar and then headed to another Mosque noted for its blue tiles depicting different designs of tulips.  Finally, we went to the Topkapi Museum (do you remember the 1964 movie of the same name?) and saw its treasures....including an 86-caret diamond.    Unfortunately, the lighting was rather poor on the treasures as well as completely non-existent on the signs describing what you were seeing.   Mostly jewel-encrusted boxes, helmets, swords, and other extravagances used by the sultans to display their power and wealth.   The separate sword and armory section, however, was well-lit and very much worth the entire price of admission.     We were told that we could not take any pictures whatsoever...even with no flash...and, of course, no video.   Very stern looking armed guards were in all of the treasury rooms.

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