Istanbul is the 4th largest city in the world. Located on the Bosphorus Strait, Istanbul extends both on the European (Thrace) and on the Asian (Anatolia) side of the Bosphorus, and is thereby the only city situated on two continents.

Istanbul served as the capital city of the Roman Empire (330–395), the East Roman (Byzantine) Empire (395–1204 and 1261–1453), the Latin Empire (1204–1261), and the Ottoman Empire (1453–1922). The city was chosen as joint European Capital of Culture for 2010. — Wikipedia

… but the capital of Turkey is Ankara.

(photo: A painting on the wall of a cruise ship on the Bosphorus)

The Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora was built in the 4th century by Constantine the Great. The mosaics and frescoes date from about 1320.

For four centuries after the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul, it served as a mosque (Kariye Camii), and was converted into a museum in 1948 (Kariye Müzesi). — The Wikipedia and Church of the Holy Savior in Chora

photograph by Marie-Anne Haour

photograph by Marie-Anne Haour

Photograph chosen for exhibit at the Istanbul Photo Contest 2008


istanbul-5 istanbul-5bis Beneath Istanbul lie hundreds of Byzantine cisterns, the largest of which is Yerebatan Saray Sarniçi, the Basilica Cistern (or Sunken Palace cistern). It is thought to have been built after the Nika revolt in 532 AD. After the conquest of the city by the Ottoman Turks, the cisterns were forgotten and were rediscovered in 1545.

There are 336 marble columns in the Basilica cistern, and the base of two columns is adorned with Medusa heads. Historians believe that the Medusa heads were used only because they were needed as pedestals for the columns in the construction of the Cistern. — Yerebatan Saray Sarniçi

According to our guide, when the Basilica cistern was built, they needed blocks to support some of the columns (hence, the Medusa heads). Some of these columns were taken from Ephesus. Christian Greeks built this cistern at the same time as the Hagia Sophia. They did not believe in “myths.”

Turkish weavers have long been famous for their elaborately designed rugs. They made many of the first Oriental carpets that were used in Europe.

also see the archived posts on: Carpets from Turkey


The Sultanahmet Camii (called the Blue Mosque by the West), was built in 1609 and completed in 1616 by order of the Sultan Ahmet I, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire and Caliph of Islam. The Sultan Ahmet ascended the throne at the age of 14, and died of typhus a year after the completion of the Mosque at the age of 27. The architect was Sedefhar Mehmet Ağa.

One of the most notable features of the Blue Mosque is its six minarets. It is believed that the Sultan directed his architect to make gold (altin) minarets, which was misunderstood as six (alti) minarets. This was considered pretentious because the mosque in Mecca likewise had six minarets, and therefore the Sultan Ahmet had a seventh minaret added to the mosque in Mecca. — Wikipedia

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