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Exploring Istanbul – Hagia Sophia, the Cistern, Rugs, Grand Bazaar

Hellos from Istanbul again; indeed the city of the world’s desire. We visited Hagia Sophia today – I must have been there over 20 times by now and everytime I go back I learn something new and Hagia Sophia keeps on fascinating us. Completed in 537 and reigned as the greatest church in Christendom until the conquest by the Ottomans in 1453, Hagia Sophia remains as the most famous monument of Istanbul.

It is a joy to see that the interior renovation inside Hagia Sophia is now complete and you can appreciate this magnificent museum with no distractions.I keep on admiring the wonderful giant round plagues of Islam (with the name of God, “Allah” and Prophet Mohammed) right next to the mosaics of Virgin Mary and Christ, delightful at the dome.

And this is Hagia Sophia’s friendly cat that we all admired!

Next stop is the tranquil Basilica Cistern, where the Byzantians used to store water for the great palace – and a wonderful stop to cool down in the summer time!

And this is Argos column in the Cistern; this is considered to be one of the roots of the “evil eye”, as the thousands eyes on the column meant to protect from the evil eye.

Anyone for rugs? Turkish rugs are of high quality as they are made with double knots. We had the pleasure of waching how the rugs were woven at Nakkas Rug store, where they have a wonderful collection of tribal, wool, silk rugs and many more.

Top quality rugs explained by experts and a fine example of Turkish hospitality, highly recommended. And the Ottoman prints and Turkish Iznik tiles are irresistable too!

How about food? Nothing symbolises Turkish street food more than “Simit” – susame covered round pastries, available in every coner on street stalls.

And simit is best enjoyed over a glass of cay, our national drink, served on tulip shaped glasses. Cay is enjoyed here all through the day, a drink of friendsip and hospitality, offered to everyone whereever you go. I drink to that:)

Until next time, happy travels!

2 Responses to Exploring Istanbul – Hagia Sophia, the Cistern, Rugs, Grand Bazaar

  1. Anonymous July 27, 2011 at 10:49 pm #

    Thoroughly enjoyed the photos and posts from Istanbul, they bring back many wonderful memories of our trips there with you. I can almost taste the food, feel the carpets, and enjoy the breezes off the Bosporus. I think I see some familiar faces in the photos, too. We are both looking forward to more photos and posts from the rest of your trip. Since we can't be there with you, we are enjoying it vicariously though your blog! Please also say hello to your family from us!
    Nancy and John in Austin, TX.

  2. Ozlem's Turkish Table July 28, 2011 at 7:12 am #

    Dear Nancy and John,
    Merhaba:) What a wonderful surprise to get your comment, thank you very much. It is wonderful to be back here and I am delighted you can refresh your memories of Istanbul thru the blog. We all send a big hello to you both, hope to see you soon!
    Ozlem xx

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