Istanbul Map
Site Index
Contact
Random
Our Travel Books
Advertising / Press

Ortaköy: The Middle Village

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Midway up the European side of the Bosphorus, Ortaköy literally translates into “Middle Village”. Not the most enthralling of names, but this neighborhood does boast one of Istanbul’s most eclectic populations. Turk, Greek, Jew… hipster, playboy, fisherman. Everybody has a place in Ortaköy.

Ortaköy Istanbul

The weather was foul on the afternoon of our visit; grey, rainy and cold. Disembarking the bus (#25E from Kabataş), we popped open our umbrellas and trudged into the jumble of cafes and shops which make up the neighborhood’s heart. Here, we were met with another disappointment: the gorgeous Ortaköy Mosque was completely covered up for renovation. Just underneath the Bosphorus Bridge, this is normally one of the city’s most picturesque mosques. Hmph… the weather was too poor for pictures, anyhow, but this was not a good omen for our day in Ortaköy.

The bad luck continued at the neighborhood’s popular Sunday market. We’d heard a lot about this market, with its original art works, unique gifts, and cool bohemian vibe… so, when it turned out to be chiefly chincy trinkets, cheap sunglasses and bead jewelry of the sort you can find anywhere, we were severely disappointed. There was a row of second-hand book dealers, and a couple stands with some interesting artistic creations, but overall this market wasn’t anything special.

Despite the rain, the construction on the mosque and the boring market, Ortaköy managed to charm us. Since Ottoman times, this has been one of Istanbul’s most cosmopolitan areas, with a healthy mixture of religions and ethnicities living in harmony. That diversity is still in evidence today, with a couple Armenian churches, a synagogue and a Greek Orthodox church joining the neighborhood mosques. And there’s a nice mixture of bars and cafes, catering to everyone from hungry locals on a budget to more upscale joints with views over the Bosphorus.

Location on our Istanbul Map

HD Istanbul Photos

Ortaköy Istanbul Travel
Istanbul Bopshorus
Ortaköy Bridge
Ortaköy Istanbul 2013
Ortaköy Blog
Istanbul Weblog
Istanbul Travel Blog
Istanbul Photo Blog
Istanbul Travel Blog Turkey
Istanbul Ortaköy
Bosphorus Blog
Travel Istanbul
Reiseblog Istanbul
Bosphorus Bridge Blog
Ortaköy Article
Travel Stories Istanbul
Istanbul 2013
Ortaköy
Ortaköy Turkey
Istanbul Reisen
Istanbul
, , , , , , ,
May 25, 2013 at 3:19 pm Comment (1)

The Rahmi M. Koç Museum

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

There were experiences I expected to have during our time in Istanbul: eating delicious döner and baklava, visiting mosques, and ferrying across the Bosphorus. But exploring the innards of a decommissioned WWII-era submarine? Nope, I wasn’t expecting that one.

Tech Museum Istanbul

Found on the northern banks of the Golden Horn, the Rahmi M. Koç Museum is definitely not on the list of typical Istanbul tourist experiences. This is Turkey’s first museum “dedicated to the history of transport, industry and communications”, and it offers a comprehensive tour through the world of machinery. Although the museum is geared toward kids, Jürgen and I had an excellent time. We explored old trams, climbed up into the cockpit of small military planes, saw early bicycle designs, guessed at the makes of antique cars, and even had the opportunity to enter a submarine.

The US sells its decommissioned military equipment to its allies, so sometime after WWII, Turkey ended up with some of our old submarines. One of these, the USS Thornback, sits in the water just off the shore from the museum. Built in 1944, the Thornback battled the Japanese during WWII, and would go on to serve 28 years in the Turkish Navy. We paid a little extra for a tour of the boat, led by Mr. Ahmet Malalan, a former sailor.

This was my first time in a submarine, and I felt strangely elated. Like a kid, I wanted to touch everything: the torpedo chutes, the radio dials, the big red buttons. But I kept myself in check and behaved like a self-respecting adult… until I saw the periscope. There was no resisting that.

The Rahmi M. Koç Museum provided an unexpectedly fun day. Anybody interested in industrial artifacts, or perhaps those who’ve had their fill of mosques and ancient art, should make the trip.

Location on our Istanbul Map
Rahmi M. Koç Museum – Website (English)

Download Our Travel Books Here

Technik Museum Istnanbul
Golden Horn Museum
Old Musem Istanbul
Istanbul Travel Blog Museum
Old Planes Istanbul
Istanbul Book
Tech Museum Istanbul
Tech Museum Turkey
Turkey Istanbul Tech Museum
Old Timer Museum Istanbul
Alte Autos Istanbul
Train Museum Istanbul
Zug Museum Istanbul
Bike Museum Istanbul
Technical Museum Istanbul
Machine Museum Istanbul
Travel Blog
Tech Blog Turkey
Tech Blog Istanbul
Travel Tech
Travel Blogger Tech Istanbul
Travel
Travel Istanbul
Istanbul Tech Travel Blog
Istanbul Reisen
Istanbul Technik Blog
Istanbul Türkei Technik Blog
Museum
Travel Tech
Istanbul Turkey
Travel For 91 Days
What To Do In Istanbul
Off The Beaten Path Istanbul
Istanbul 2013
Istanbul Turkey 2020
Istanbul Info
Istanbul Tourist Office
Istanbul Touristen Büro
Istanbul Travel Book
Istanbul Travel Blogg
Istanbul
, , , , , , , , , ,
May 23, 2013 at 12:35 pm Comments (0)

The Fethiye Museum

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Located in the neighborhood of Çarşamba, just up the road from the Yavuz Selim Camii, the Fethiye Museum preserves some of the best Byzantine mosaics in Istanbul. It’s small and difficult to reach, so most tourists skip right over it in favor of the similar and better-known Chora Museum.

Fethiye Museum Istanbul

The Church of Theotokos Pammakaristos (All-Blessed Mother of God) was built sometime in the 11th century by Byzantine Emperor Michael VII Ducas. By the time of the Ottoman conquest, the Pammakaristos had become one of Constantinople’s most important Orthodox churches and, sensitive to the feelings of their new Greek citizens, the Ottomans initially left it alone. They even made it the temporary seat of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate. But in 1592, to celebrate of the Ottoman annexation of Georgia and Azerbaijan, the church was finally converted into the Fethiye Mosque.

During renovations in the 1950s, beautiful 14th-century mosaics were uncovered in the parekklesion, or side chapel, and these became the focus of a museum which opened in 2006. Under the dome, visitors can admire a depiction of Christ Pantokrator ringed by twelve prophets from the Old Testament. There’s also a large mosaic panel of Jesus’s baptism, and representations of various Biblical saints, including a deesis with Mary and John the Baptist.

The Fethiye Museum is a like a delicious Byzantine Mosaic hors d’oeuvre, before the more filling main course served up at the nearby Chora Museum. The mosaics in the Fethiye aren’t as expansive as those of the Chora, but the experience of visiting is more pleasant. We were the only ones inside the church on the Thursday afternoon we chose for our trip, and able to explore in peace.

Location on our Istanbul Map
Related Post: The Grand Palace Mosaic Museum in Istanbul

Follow Us On Facebook

Fethiye Mosaics
Museums Fehiye Istanbul
Istanbul Churches Jesus Mosaic
Istanbul Travel Blog
Istanbul Mosaics Museum
Istanbul Travel Guide
Istanbul Photos Gallery HD
Istanbul Travel Books
Istanbul
, , , , , , , , ,
May 22, 2013 at 8:39 am Comment (1)

Inside the Hagia Sophia

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

The Hagia Sophia isn’t just the best-known tourist attraction in Istanbul, or one of Europe’s most cherished landmarks… it’s one of the greatest buildings in human history. This church, nearly 1500 years in age, was once the center of Byzantine faith, later reborn as the predominant mosque of the Ottoman Empire, and today has found a new purpose as one of the world’s most popular museums.

Hagia-Sophia-HD

We spent nearly three hours inside the Hagia Sophia. There’s a lot to see, and all of it is fascinating. This is the kind of place where even the floors, doors and walls have stories to tell. I’m serious: this circular pattern in the floor marks the Omphalos, where Byzantine emperors were crowned. That massive wooden door is the Imperial Gate, reserved for the entrances of the emperor and his family, and rumored to have been made from the wood of Noah’s Ark. And there in the wall, you’ll see one of the church’s magnificent Byzantine mosaics.

These mosaics have survived the centuries in superb condition, thanks mainly to Muslim sensitivities. Human representations are disallowed in mosques, so the mosaics were covered up and thus protected during Ottoman rule. The mosaic above the aforementioned Imperial Gate depicts Emperor Leo VI on his knees before Christ. There’s a wonderful Deesis mosaic in the upper gallery, with Mary and John the Baptist imploring Christ to forgive humanity. And the mosaic of Mother Mary with baby Jesus in her lap, in the dome of the apse, is marvelous. But our favorites were those of the four seraphim, God’s guardian angels, in the dome’s supporting pendentives. During restorations in 2009, one was discovered to have a face hiding underneath its protective golden shield.

Ayasofya Istanbul Turkey

Impressive as the mosaics are, they can’t compete with the church’s dome: a true architectural wonder. Measuring in at 55 meters in height and 32 meters in diameter, with 40 windows that allow in abundant light, this dome was by far the largest ever attempted when it was constructed. Especially with the two half-domes which exaggerate its size, the dome creates an illusion of immense space. Standing down at ground level, looking up, it’s hard not to feel insignificant.

Yes, standing in the center of this church, looking up at the massive dome and its seraphim, admiring the giant Arab calligraphy, considering the number of emperors and sultans who have passed through here, and who have probably stood exactly where you’re standing right now… it’s very hard not to feel insignificant. Because, and it takes maybe an hour inside the Hagia Sophia before you start to genuinely grasp this, you really are insignificant. Look up again at that dome. Think about how long ago it was built, and then try to say aloud “My life has worth”. Ridiculous. You’re a tiny drop in the ocean of human history. You, your silly problems, your proudest accomplishments… they mean absolutely nothing.

Wow. Thanks for ruining my day, Hagia Sophia. But despite the small existential crisis, our visit here was one of the highlights of our time in Istanbul. Unforgettable.

Location on our Istanbul Map
Related: History of the Hagia Sofia

Buy One Of Our Hagia Sophia Photos As Framed Art Here

Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia Travel BLog
Hagia Sophia Souvenirs
Sightseeing istanbul
Istanbul travel Hagia Sophia
Istanbul Hagia Sophia
Travel Article Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia Istanbul Turkey
Hagia Sophia Opening Hours
Hagia Sophia Tours
Istanbul Blog Travel Book
Ayasofya
Ayasofya Istanbul
Estambul
Estambul Viajes
Istanbul Reisen
Istanbul Reisebücher
???? ?????
Hagia Sophia Museum
Hagia Sophia HD Photos
Framed Photos Souvenirs Istanbul
Hagia Sophia Kirche Istanbul
Istanbul 2013
Istanbul Reise Info
Istanbul
For 91 Days In Istanbul
Gerahmte Fotos Istanbul
The Omphalos: where emperors were crowned
Souvenirs Istanbul
Istanbul Travel Blogg
Istanbul Blogg
Travel Blogg
Santa Sophia
Santa Sophia Estambul
Istanbul Travel Info
Istanbul Spass
Beautiful Photos Istanbul
Istanbul Best Photos
Photo Award Istanbul
Travel Photographer
Reisefotograf
Photographer Travel HD
Estambul Photographos
Flights Istanbul
Graffiti left by Vikings. Yes: Vikings
Hagia Sophia 2013
Hagia Sophia Istanbul
Hagia Sophia Travel Blogg
Istanbul Photo Books
Hagia Sophia Turkey
A Wishing Column
Is Istanbul Safe?
, , , , , , , , , , , , ,
May 21, 2013 at 1:45 pm Comments (4)

The History of the Hagia Sophia

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Were we excited to visit the Hagia Sophia? It’s just one of the most legendary buildings on the planet. The largest church in the world for a thousand years. The scene of some of history’s most decisive moments. A breathtaking architectural achievement on a scale unthinkable for its day. Yes, I suppose it’s fair to say that we were excited.

Hagia Sophia HD

Ever since arriving in Istanbul, I’d been eagerly anticipating our visit to the Hagia Sophia. Scratch that: I’d been eagerly anticipating a visit since 1984 when, at the age of seven, I read about it in the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Now the long-awaited day had finally arrived, and it was every bit as amazing as I had hoped. The instant I stepped inside the Hagia Sofia, the Church of Divine Wisdom, I felt transported into another world.

The building we see today is actually the third church built on the site. The first, completed in 360, was destroyed during a riot in 404, and no trace remains. And the second church was burnt to the ground in 513 during the infamous Nika Riots. One of worst riots in history, this popular outburst of rage resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and the destruction of half of Constantinople’s buildings. The Byzantine Emperor Justinian, though, emerged unscathed and more powerful than ever. With a free rein to rebuild the city as he liked, he started with the Hagia Sophia.

Completed in 537, Justinian’s new church was immediately hailed as an unprecedented architectural achievement. The empire’s greatest mathematicians and physicists had been brought in to supervise and consult on the construction, nothing on the scale of which had ever been attempted. The Hagia Sophia was by far the biggest church in the world, and would remain so for nearly a thousand years. It’s almost unthinkable. Try to imagine how otherworldly and groundbreaking a modern-day skyscraper would have to be, to remain unsurpassed for the next millennium. I don’t actually think it’s possible, anymore.

Hagia Sophia Postcards

Despite its preeminence, the Hagia Sophia hasn’t been immune to the passage of history. It exists, after all, in one of the most tumultuous capitals on earth, and has had as many masters as Istanbul has had names. First and foremost, it was a Byzantine church and the center of the Orthodox world. For a brief interlude, from 1204 to 1261, it was converted into a Roman Catholic church, following the Fourth Crusade which crippled Byzantine. The marauding crusaders even installed a prostitute on the patriarch’s throne, in mockery of the Eastern faith.

Luckily, the next masters of Constantinople would treat the church with more respect. After sacking the city in 1453, the Ottoman forces under Mehmet II the Conqueror enjoyed three days of pillaging, but the Hagia Sophia was mostly spared. The church had been as famous in the Arab world as in the Christian, and it had been Mehmet’s lifelong ambition to see it converted into a mosque. During the long eclipse of the Byzantine Empire, the church had fallen into a deplorable state, but the Turks restored it to its former glory. For the next 500 years, it served as the most important mosque in the Ottoman Empire.

In 1935, the nascent Turkish Republic recognized that the Hagia Sophia was more important as a monument of our shared cultural heritage, than as yet another mosque. On the orders of Atatürk, it was converted into a museum. A good move, in my opinion. Today, it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world, and certainly among the most impressive we’ve ever visited.

Location on our Istanbul Map

Buy A Framed Photo Of The Hagia Sophia From Us

Flider Haus Istanbul
Hagia Sophia Istanbul
Hagia Sophia
3 Santa Sophia Istanbul
The line to enter the church… on a slow day
4 Hagia Sophia Travel Blog
Hagia Sophia Travel Articles
Remnants of the 2nd church, destroyed in 513
Travel Guide Istanbul
Istanbul Travel Articles Tips
Hagia Sofia Istanbul
Hagia Sophia Turkey
Hagia Sophia Photos
Hagia Sophia Istanbul Turkey
Istanbul Hagia Sophia
, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
May 19, 2013 at 2:14 pm Comments (3)

A Day in Zeyrek

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

The lively neighborhood of Zeyrek, just north of the Aqueduct of Valens, was one of our favorite spots in Istanbul. It’s difficult to reach with public transportation, and lacks any well-known sights, so very few tourists bother to visit. Not that we mind; it just leaves more Zeyrek for us!

Hoca-G%c4%b1yasettin-Cami

Zeyrek is one of the four spots designated by UNESCO as “Historic Areas of Istanbul” (the others are Sultanahmet’s Archaeology Park, the Suleymaniye Complex and the Theodosian Walls). This ancient neighborhood still conserves some original wooden housing, and its mosque has a wonderful location overlooking the Golden Horn. Unfortunately, though, the Zeyrek Mosque has been added to another, less desirable UNESCO list: “Endangered Monuments”.

Which perhaps explains why it was closed for restoration during our visit. Originally built in the 12th century as the Church of Christ Pantokrator, this is the second-largest Byzantine-era religious complex in the city, after the Hagia Sophia. It was frustrating to be locked out, but that gave us more time to lounge on the terrace of Zeyrekhane: an upscale restaurant in the shadow of the mosque, which boasts a fantastic view over the neighborhood.

Me-And-My-Lamb-Leg

Walking from the mosque to the Roman aqueduct, you enter the heart of the neighborhood. Life in Zeyrek seems to be lived on the streets, with markets opened out onto the sidewalks and people going busily about their days. This is a boisterous place, and there’s no escaping the pull of local life. One minute we’re passing a meat shop, and the next thing I know, I’m on my knees with a baby lamb suckling my fingertip. Meanwhile, Jürgen is taking portraits of butchers, and then we’re both shaking their bloody, carcass-encrusted hands.

And now the peanut-seller wants to chat. Really, you lived in Germany? Auf wiedersehen! Çiğköfte sounds good for lunch. And then tea. Yes, Mr. Baklava Seller, of course we’ll sit down! Oh, look at this group of kids, who want to practice their English. “Huh-low! Bye-bye!” Now, more tea and a round of backgammon, and then… wait. Where have the last three hours gone?! And that’s how trips to Zeyrek tend to go.

Not quite in Zeyrek, but nearby, is the Yavuz Selim Mosque. This is one of the oldest imperial mosques in the city, commissioned by Suleyman the Magnificent in honor of his father Selim the Grim. The interior is simple but lovely, decorated with Iznik tiles and crowned with a shallow dome. But the Yavuz Selim’s main draw is outdoors. Like the Zeyrek Camii, this mosque offers an incredible view of the Golden Horn. A wooded courtyard faces out towards the river, complete with benches allowing people to relax and take in the panorama.

Locations on our Istanbul Map: Zeyrek Camii | Yavuz Selim Camii

Better Safe Than Sorry! Get your travel insurance quote here! Instantly!

New-Ataturk-Bridge-2013
Zeyrek-Terrace
Zeyrek-Under-Construction
Forever-Alone-Istanbul
Baby-Lamb
Sheep-Heads
Istanbul-Butcher
Turkish Dudes
Turkish-Cheeses
Turkish-Lavas-Cheese
Lena Istanbul Cafe
Coming-Together-In-Istanbul
Walking-IN-Zeyrek.
Walking-Tour-Istanbul
Pics from the Yavuz Selim Mosque
Yavuz-Selim-Mosque
Yavuz-Selim-Mosque-Gate
Istanbul-Panorama
/Beyoglu
Yavuz-Selim-Camii
Yavuz-Selim-Glass
Yavuz-Selim-Camii-Domes
Yavuz-Selim-Iznik-Tiles
Marble-Carving
, , , , , , , , , , , ,
May 18, 2013 at 2:22 pm Comment (1)

The Çarşamba Market and the Fatih Camii

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Çarşamba is a neighborhood in Istanbul, and also the Turkish word for “Wednesday”. Now, what do you suspect might be the best day to visit Çarşamba? You get one guess!

/Istanbul-Budget-Travel

Held since Byzantine times, the Wednesday Market (Çarşamba Pazarı) was already woven so immutably into the neighborhood’s fabric, that the conquering Turks just named the entire area after it. Today, Çarşamba is a highly devout section of Istanbul. The market occupies the narrow streets surrounding the Fatih Mosque, and brings the locals out in droves, the great majority of them covered women going about their weekly shopping.

The market concentrates on cheap clothing, household wares and food; nothing of touristic interest, besides the sheer spectacle of so many people. Jostling through the jam-packed streets, and getting mercilessly shoulder-checked by the no-nonsense, and surprisingly solid, local ladies, Jürgen and I were equally exhilarated and exhausted by the market. It was with a sigh of relief that we finally emerged into the courtyard of the Fatih Mosque.

Fatih-Courtyard

This massive complex is one of the great mosques of Istanbul, built on the destroyed remains of the Church of the Holy Apostles. It was raised 30 years after the conquest of Istanbul on the orders of Mehmet the Conqueror, who was less than satisfied with the result. Angry that the mosque’s dome was smaller than that of the Hagia Sophia, he had the architect put to death. You don’t want to disappoint the Conqueror!

We think Mehmet over-reacted. His mosque is a marvel, with gorgeous interior calligraphy and design, and a pleasant courtyard. We sat down inside to listen to a little preaching, and take in the atmosphere. The mosque was surprisingly crowded. A few kids were laughing and chasing each other around the carpeted room, while their fathers looked on in annoyance. There was a lighter, more frivolous atmosphere in this mosque than others we’ve visited, probably thanks to the shopping-festival just outside.

Walking around the grounds of the mosque, we found the mausoleum of Mehmet the Conqueror himself, his turban atop an absurdly large coffin. Many people were seated inside, reading from the Koran, and praying for the former Sultan. We were tempted to sit down, ourselves, if just for the excuse to spend some extra time in this beautifully-tiled mausoleum.

Location of the Fatih Mosque on our Istanbul Map

Download Our Travel Books Here

The Çarşamba Market
Carsamba-Market
Istanbul-Street-Market
Olive-Overdose
Olive-Dealer-Istanbul
Market-Dude
Striking-A-Pose
Wednesday-Market-In-Istanbul
Carsamba-Market-Istanbul
Shopping-In-Istanbul
Secret-Shopper
Crazy-Market-Istanbul
Fashion-Overdose
High-Fashion-Istanbul
Strings-Attached
The Fatih Camii
Fatih-Camii-Istanbul
Fatih-Mosque-Istanbul
Fatih-Festival
Ottoman-Sun-Clock
Mausoleum-Fatih-Camii
Tomb-Fatih
Mehmet-II-mausoleum
Fatih-Clock
Fatih-Gate
Fatih-Camii
Istanbul-Fine-Art
Ottoman-Fountain
Fatih-Moschee-Brunnen
Not Korea
Fatih-Mosque-Entrance
Fatih-Camii-Entrance
Amazon-Travel-Blog
Ottoman-Art-Design
Ottoman-Ceiling
Praying-Inside-Camii-Mosque
Fatih-Camii-Inside-Fountain
Turkish-Pigeons
Feeding-Pigeons
, , , , , , , , ,
May 14, 2013 at 7:59 am Comments (9)

St. Mary of the Mongols and the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

We spent a long day walking along the southern coast of the Golden Horn, from the Atatürk Bridge to the ancient Jewish quarter of Balat. This is an older, quieter side of Istanbul that not enough tourists see, although it has a number of interesting sights, including some beautiful churches.

That-Old-Greek-Church

It took a lot of effort to locate St. Mary of the Mongols, which was originally built in the 13th century. After hiking past the red brick facade of the Fener Greek Orthodox School for Boys at least four times, repeatedly up and down the same steep hill, and fruitlessly asking innumerable locals, we only found the right location after finally having given up. We were in standing front of something called the “Meryem Ana”, loudly insulting the “stupid f#&*@ng Mongol church”, when the door suddenly opened, and an attendant welcomed us inside. It turned out to be the right place, despite the different name.

The guy obviously hadn’t understood our blasphemy, because he was happy to provide a short tour. This is the only church in the city which has enjoyed continuous Orthodox services since Byzantine days. Hanging on a wall is the agreement signed by Mehmet the Conqueror guaranteeing religious freedom to Greeks in the newly-Muslim city. Also within the church is the mouth of a five-kilometer tunnel which, according to our guide, once led to the Hagia Sophia.

Most-Important-Greek-Orthodox

St. Mary of the Mongols was impressive, so our hopes were sky high for the nearby Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, which is the main Eastern Orthodox church in the world: the central place of worship for a congregation of over 300 million. It’s a little strange that it’s in a Muslim city; you’d think that once Constantinople fell, the patriarchate would be moved to another city. But Orthodoxy, apparently, isn’t big on change.

We were astounded by the silence and dreariness of this church. There were only a couple other people inside snapping photos, and I had to double-check our guide book to make sure we had the right place. In Orthodoxy, every church is considered equal, and too much importance isn’t given to any one place. But still, I expected the center of Eastern Europe’s dominant religion to have a lot more going on.

Earlier in the morning, we had paid visits the Rose Mosque and the Aya Nikola, making this an insanely long day of church-hunting. So, when we arrived at St. Stephen of the Bulgars, a white, cast-iron church set in the middle of a traffic island, I was secretly thrilled to find it closed for renovation. Jürgen, though, was genuinely upset, so I feigned disappointment. “The darned luck of it! Well, let’s go home”. And before he could react, or suggest going to another church, I had hailed a taxi.

Locations on our Map: St. Mary of the Mongols | Green Orthodox Patriarchate | St. Stephen of the Bulgars

Rent An Apartment With Incredible Views In Istanbul

More Photos of St. Mary of the Mongols
Secret%20Church
Meryem-Ana
Old-Fresco-Greek
Greek-Swing
Green-Star
Jesus-Box
Religious-Freedom-Mehmet-Istanbul
The-Green-Romm-Istanbul
More Photos of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate
Greek-Mosaic-Stones
Fine-Art-Greece
Greek-Light
Greek-Wood-Table
Silver-Idols-Istanbul-Greek
Silver-Jesus
Silver-Cofin
Spiral-Greek
Greek-Columns
Greek-Church-Seats
Greek-Gold
Gold-Mosaic
Gold-In-Istanbul
Golden-Wall
Gold-Birds
Dragon LOL
Greek-Orthodox-Patriarchate
May 13, 2013 at 3:40 pm Comments (2)

The Gül Camii and Aya Nikola

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Istanbul has no shortage of old churches and mosques, and it can often feel like too much of a good thing. As our time in the city progressed, we would increasingly find ourselves saying something like, “Honestly, I think we’ve visited enough mosques”. But what are we going to do? Simply ignore something as amazing as the Gül Camii?

Gul-Mosque-Art

When entering an ancient mosque, we’ve learned to look for the placement of the mihrab: the semicircular niche which indicates the direction of Mecca. Orthodox churches face east, but a mosque should be oriented toward Mecca. If you’re in a mosque that was originally built as a mosque, the mihrab is integrated soundly into the architecture. But if you’re in a former church which has undergone conversion, the mihrab will be off to the side, inelegantly askew.

The mihrab in the Gül Camii (Rose Mosque) was askew, because this was originally the Byzantine Church of St. Theodosia. Dating from the 12th century, it’s a small square-shaped structure, built of red brick, which used to guard the corpse of St. Theodosia. Theodosia was a nun martyred during the 8th century struggle against iconoclasm. While protesting the removal of a particularly revered icon at Constantinople’s Great Palace, she shook a ladder and killed the soldier who was atop it. For this crime, she was executed by having a ram’s horn hammered through her neck. Our ancestors were so creative!

May 29th, the day on which the Ottomans overran Istanbul in 1453, just happened to be Theodosia’s Saint Day, and the church was full of worshipers. According to at least one account, the marauding Turks stormed inside, chased out the Byzantines, and threw the saint’s bones to the dogs. And then they converted her church into a mosque. Poor Theodosia had it as tough in death as in life.

Aya-Nikola-Church-Istanbul

After finding the Gül Camii, we tracked down the nearby Aya Nikola: a Greek Orthodox church. This rundown old building on the shore of the Golden Horn looks nothing like a church, but after ringing the doorbell, we were welcomed in by a friendly Greek woman. The Aya Nikola is small, dark, and lavishly decorated, with a fantastic wall of icons around the altar. But I got the distinct impression it’s no longer in service.

Part of the reason we enjoy hunting down these old churches, is the excuse it gives us to explore new neighborhoods. From the Aya Nikola, we walked along the coast of the Golden Horn up into the hills of Fener and Balat, the old Jewish quarter. It’s rarely visited, but we found this area west of the Atatürk Bridge to be one of the most picturesque in Istanbul.

Locations on our Map: Gül Camii | Aya Nikola

Our Istanbul Cat Blog

More Photos of the Gül Camii
Gul-Mosque-Istanbul
Gul-Camii-Dome-Mosque
Gul-Light
Pray-Column
Mosque-Black-Board
More Photos of the Aya Nikola
Religion-Mix-Istanbul
Greek-Roof-Glass
Golden-Ship-Lamp-Greek-Orthodox-Istanbul
Aya-Nikola-Istanbul
Greek-Orthodox-Art-Istanbul
Holy-Water-Istanbul
Aya-Nikola-Eagle
Pictures from the Neighborhood
Balat-Neighborhood-Istanbul
Drying-Cloth
Fatih-Istanbul-In-2013
Fatih-Streets
Greece-In-Istanbul
Greece-Jesus-Turkey
Greek-Column
Mosaic-Tower
Mossy-Stairs-Istanbul
Old-Balat-Streets
Old-Door-Istanbul
Old-Gate-Istanbul
Old-Greek-Boy-School
Old-Istanbul
Old-Street-Fatih
Steam In The City
Old Istanbul Blog
Steam-Walk
Steamy-Fatih
The-Other-Golden-Horn
Travel-Blog-Istanbul
Walking-Tour-Istanbul
/Weird-Streets-Istanbul
, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
May 11, 2013 at 8:27 am Comments (0)

The Rezan Has Museum

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Set in the basement of an old tobacco factory on the southern shore of the Golden Horn, the Rezan Has Museum presents an interesting walk through Turkey’s archaeological history, from the copper age to the arrival of the Selçuks.

Byzantine-Underground

The former Cibali Tobacco and Cigarette Factory is today home to the Kadir Has University. The factory dates from 1888, but was abandoned for decades before being purchased by a foundation which, following the examples of the Istanbul Modern and Santralİstanbul, discovered a contemporary use for the historical building. The conversion from factory to university was beautifully realized and won the 2003 Europa Nostra award, which honors the “safeguarding of Europe’s cultural and natural heritage”.

During the restoration, the site was realized to have an even older history than believed, when both an Ottoman hamam and a Byzantine-era cistern were discovered in the basement. The remains were preserved as well as possible, and became the setting of the subterranean Rezan Has Museum.

For an archaeology museum, an ancient underground cistern is about as atmospheric a setting as one could hope for. The permanent collection is small, but nicely presented, and takes the visitor on a chronological journey through the ages, from Copper Age tools and jars to the oil lamps and weapons carried by the Selçuk Turks on their march through Anatolia. There’s ancient medical equipment and a fascinating collection of decorative belts worn by the mysterious and short-lived Kingdom of Urartu.

It’s great to see Istanbul making such constructive use of its cultural heritage, instead of razing these historic buildings to the ground. The Rezan Has Museum is just as fascinating for its archaeology exhibits, as for the wonderful restoration of its ancient cistern.

Location on our Istanbul Map
Rezan Has Museum – Website

-Further Reading: A Short History of Byzantium

Rezan-Has-Museum-Lobby
Rezan-Has-Museum
Rezan-Has-Museum-University
Hello-Istanbul
Byzantine-Ruins
Rezan-Has-Museum-Istanbul
Byzantine-Statue
Byzantine-Cross
Byzantine-Dude
Byzantine-Horse-Man
Byzantine-Key
Byzantine-Necklace
Byzantine-Oil-Lamp
Byzantine-Tub
Byzantine-Vase-Head
Raven
Vase-Byzantine
, , , , , , ,
May 7, 2013 at 3:55 pm Comments (0)

« Older PostsNewer Posts »

Ortaky: The Middle Village Midway up the European side of the Bosphorus, Ortaköy literally translates into "Middle Village". Not the most enthralling of names, but this neighborhood does boast one of Istanbul's most eclectic populations. Turk, Greek, Jew... hipster, playboy, fisherman. Everybody has a place in Ortaköy.
For 91 Days