May 26, 2014

Meeting More of Istanbul’s Dark and Secret Places

The tourist version of Istanbul continues! This weekend we made it to Topkapi Palace and the Basilica Cistern—both of which are AMAZING.
Walking past Sultan Ahmet (Blue Mosque)

Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia was closed that will be on the list for another trip

Topkapi Palace reminded Lady Hiva and I of a mixture of the Summer Palace and The Forbidden City in China. Topkapi palace was the headquarters and home to the Ottoman Sultans for hundreds of years after Constantinople was conquered. At its peak there were 400 rooms and nearly 4000 people that lived there.

We are going in with ALL THOSE PEOPLE?

Inside Topkapi Palace

Much like the Chinese homes for the Emperors, Topkapi Palace has several courtyards and each courtyard closer to the rooms of the Sultan are more and more sacred. Normal people like us would have never seen those areas. The sheer beauty of the buildings and architecture show that the Ottomans lived in lavish societies.

The hand painted tiles gave color and richness to all the walls and the ceilings. The rooms put all senses aware and this was without all the draperies and furniture.

One of the most lavishly decorated sections was where they keep relic of Islam. There is a portion of the Prophet Mohamed’s beard, some of his clothes and even a tooth that you can see. Because of the sacred nature you cannot take photos in there, which is a shame because it is beautiful.

Tau'aho has a new found love for his tongue

They also had Moses’ staff. It had been passed down for generations and kept in Topkapi ever since the Ottomans gained control of it. I was interested in seeing it and was a bit surprised to see that it is not the large Galdolf sized rod that Hollywood depicts, but instead was about chest high and not much thicker than 2 inches. Again, I wish we could have taken photos. I guess if you want to see it, you have another excuse to come here and see us!

Lady Hiva and I were glad that we paid the extra to go into the Harem portion because the rooms were spectacular. One room after another was even more beautiful than the one we just left. Luckily, we were able to take photos there!

There is the tongue again...I guess a Lucky Dragon can't be a true reptile without his tongue

This is his other "look" if he does not like something he makes duck lips and snorts. He did not want to look when his mum told him to look at the camera...haha

After we left Topkapi (it took a majority of the day because it is so big), we went to eat at a fun street side café, tried traditional Turkish Ice-cream, and then went to the Basilica Cistern. The Cistern was built for water and they estimate that it could hold 100,000 tons of water! It is amazing to see. There are only a few feet of water in there now and some really overfed Koi. The quietness and coolness was something that we enjoyed for awhile. Although, when water is dripping on your heard it makes you realize it has not rained in several days so that water has to be coming from somewhere...YIKES! Just keep walking, just keep walking…

 One of the most interesting parts of the Cistern was the Medusa columns in the back that historians guess were brought from Rome. It makes me wonder who noticed they were there if this place was pitch black and full of water, it must be really creepy without the lights they have there now!

We also went full touristy and we dressed up like Ottomans and took photos! HAHA

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