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Turkey: Istanbul – Adventurous Vacation I

Published: 27.7.2014
Right now I have been sitting on a bench on a railroad station. I am waiting impatiently for our bus to get started on a direction to Istanbul. I will see it with my naked eye, finally! This magnificent city attracts every traveler looking forward to fabulous adventure!

The bus is full and I'm sitting next to a man about 45 years old. Suddenly comes the driver and says something to my neighbor and next to me instead him sits a little Japanese. "Aha," I think to myself, "Muslims do not let the girl sit next to a man during a 12-hour night crossing. Very interesting precautions. The Japanese woman now acquainted, speaks English wonderfully. She went to look at Ephesus in Bodrum, where we set out,. She stayed in Istanbul for two weeks ago in a hostel where she left her main luggage. Immediately she suggested that I can get there also accommodation. After a night crossing, I want to first be captivated by the magnificence and splendor of the city. Then I will spend the night there and the next day I go to other places and then again back by night bus back to Bodrum.

Haya Sofia

We will go to Big Apple hostel about 5 minutes walk from Sultan Ahmed square – the main in the center. It has Haya Sofia on one corner and the Blue Mosque on the other. My Japanese friend, Naomi, says she has some time, so we can go on tour together. It's nice to meet enthusiastic cotraveler. We annoy people around us little bit as we arrange some details. It's midnight already and most of the people in the bus are just falling asleep, but suddenly there is a break. Usually every two hours to half an hour, so during every break we are putting together our plan. First, we will accommodate and then start at the Blue Mosque, then continue to Haya Sofia, there will be a long queue. Then we cannot miss the Underground Cistern and Hippodrome. The following is a station with Orient Express, Eminonu Square, the Galata Tower . Perhaps we will manage to do it ...

Haya Sofia 

On the following day we start at Topkapi, the Suleyman’s Mosque and a journey on Bosporus. I would like to drive up to the bridge of Mehmed Fatih the Conqueror . With help of the driver our plan is almost ready. We climb back to the bus and continue in our quest. It is very late and my eyes are slowly shutting ...

In the morning, we get a cappuccino and a cake in the bus and as a freebie. Our Turkish bus service copied the services of a certain Czech company . There are lot of companies, so they compete with one another to have more passengers. We went to stay with high anticipations as we set off after breakfast. I did not know where to look first. When we drove with our bus in the city of 17 million people, I was ripped by euphoria. We are finally here!

Haya Sofia - interior

Now we're on the spectacular Sultan Ahmed Square and head right into the Blue Mosque, beautifully decorated inside and outside as well. I wonder how can a modern architect ever get a prize for his work, when there is such a beautiful building. Built by the famous student of architect Mimar Sinan, who in Istanbul built over 450 buildings. He lived 99 years and worked for the government of three sultans, and neither had his Modra mesitahead chopped off. It is said, he came from a Christian family. The Ottomans tended to burst into Christian families and took their children between 4 to 10 years of age. They reeducated them in a way of Islam and left them to study in the palace school. This behavior is called devshirme . And when some of the boys had some special talent, he could pay him. And so it was with Mimar, who became a talented architect. The mosque is 21,000 blue-red-green tiles made in Iznik Modra mesita - detail they produced special shades of blue and red. Mixing the colors have been carefully guarded family secret and no one until these days have revealed their production process.

Inside the mosque is a huge dome supported by four elephants columns with a diameter of 5 meters. The builder Mehmed Sedefkar Aja had a unrewarding task. He had to build a mosque to the 16year old sultan. The mosque had to surpass the beauty of the Haya Sophia that stands directly opposite. Under constant threat of sultan’s anger, apparently Mehmet’s thinking sharpened and aroused his skills to the maximum. His work definitely was great. We go there once again in the evening, because there is a light show when they are illuminated by the different parts of the building itself is a storyteller mosque, which from the loudspeaker tells his story as if it were a woman and not the building. The story is recorded in English, Turkish, German, Russian and Spanish.

We continue to Sultan Ahmed Square and stand in the line in front of Haya Sophia (Hagia Sofia), Modra mesita - interier the most beautiful and the most brilliant building for many centuries. It was even built by two engineers who were not architects and only during construction studied how to properly build their own church. They did it in a record time of 6 years. But they did many errors. The emperor, however was not particularly merciful. And so they had no choice but to correct mistakes and finish the building without errors. When the emperor came to church for the first time, a bit of plaster felt on him. hipodrom The building had not enough time to “settle “.But still he was totally mesmerized and said: "Solomon, I have surpassed thee!” I think the builders Isidorus and Thales finally were relieved.

Hooray! Finally it's our turn and enter the mosque. It’s wonderful, breathtaking. It's exactly as written in the leaflet. The dome seems captured the magnificence and grandeur of the firmament and windows around the dome are lighten up by the rays of the sun, as in the heavenly temple. One can not even speak, just stares. We sit on the floor, lean your head against a pillar and looking and looking. As if centuries passed in front of one’s eyes. One sees those 1500 years of the church and the mosque immediately! In 1453, after the conquest of Istanbul's Fatih Mehmed the Conqueror added four minarets and turn it into a mosque. The interior again added a large black plates with inscriptions Allah, Muhammad and other major Islamic caliphs. The famous Mimar Sinan at the end of his life said that his whole life trying to overcome this admirable work, but still he failed. We remained in the temple for three hours and still can not get enough of it. I will visit it gladly once again sometimes...

hlava meduzyNow we are about to cool ourselves down in the cistern. Istanbul has three cisternasources of water. In this cistern accumulated also rainwater, so the largest city in ancient times had always enough water. With awe we pass by the 336 huge pillars each with the two heads of Medusa, deliberately rotated upside down to not be able to use its magic power and turn us to stone. There's cool, and mild lighting that gives the tank a remarkable atmosphere with a touch of romance ...

To be continued...

Text/photo: Sylvie Halouzková

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