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Sunday, October 12, 2014

10/6 Istanbul: Cruising on the Bosphorous & Muslim Women Coming to my Aid (Take 2)

Not far from our hotel, we hopped on the #99 bus over the Good Horn to Karakoy, then caught the 2 minute underground funicular north to Beyoglu, the modern heart of Istanbul and immediately hopped on the antique tram, complete with ticket collectors in appropriately antiquated uniforms, north toward Taksim Square, regarded as the secular heart of the modern Turkish Republic.

As I was posing for this picture, the tram unexpectedly began moving, continuing its journey around Taksim Sq. with my holding on for dear life until it stopped again!
This war memorial reminded me of Ottawa’s in Confederation Sq.
You’d think this was some major government building but no, it was just Turkey’s film center.
After alighting the tram at the square, we walked down the neat pedestrian street of Isitklal Caddesi (caddesi means street in Turkish) teeming with many bars, galleries, nightclubs and movie theaters. I’m sure if we were even 20 years younger, we would have enjoyed walking down the street at night and sitting at one of the roadside cafes and watching the world pass by. Seeing it as we did in the late morning was not quite as exciting somehow. THe following are photos as we wandered down Isitklal.

Wonder what happened in 1973 for this monument to be built.

The BIGGEST doner (described in a previous post) we've ever seen! As you can see from the preceding photo, it obviously caught the eye of many other people too.

It was so sad seeing younsters this boy's age either outright begging or 'playing an instrument.'
In 1261, the Byzantine emperor granted the area of Galata, north of Karakoy to the Genoese (residents of Genoa, Italy) as a reward for helping to drive out the Crusaders. The Galata Tower, built by the Genoese in 1349, sits on a site of a former tower constructed by Justinian in 528 and was originally known as the Tower of Christ.

 In 1261, the Byzantine emperor granted the area of Galata, north of Karakoy to the Genoese (the residents of Genoa, Italy) as a reward for helping to drive out the Crusaders. The Galata Tower, built by the Genoese in 1349, sits on a site of a former tower constructed by Justinian in 528 and was originally known as the Tower of Christ.

Thank God we only had to walk down these Camondo Stairs, not up them.
Another view of the Tower with a mosque in front of it.
 A few minutes’ walk from the Tower is the former British Prison, now converted into a restaurant. Under the capitulations granted by the Ottomans, Western powers had the right to try their citizens under their own law, so consulates possessed their own courthouses and prisons.

At the bottom of the hill, a little south of the former prison, is the only remaining Genoese city gate.

The Galata Bridge connects the old city where most of the tourist sights are to the gritty port area of Karakoy across the Golden Horn. The 1st bridge to span the Golden Horn was completed in 1845 and was rebuilt three times but the current one was erected in the late 1980’s. We took the bus across it several times, walked it as many times and also crossed it by tram. It was sometimes difficult to see the guardrails though behind an almost solid wall of expectant anglers! The photos below were from our walk across after our jaunt to The Galata Tower and Taksim Square areas.

While I waited in line to get good seats on the ferry for our cruise up the Bosphorous, Steven skedaddled over to the New Mosque right across the street to see it for a bit. Here are his photos.

The women's seating area during prayer time.
One of the highlights of our trip to Istanbul was a 2 hour ferry cruise up the Bosphorous. The weather was rather iffy when we set out with threatening clouds and sprinkles of rain but the sun later shone and we had oodles of fun crisscrossing the Bosphorous from the European side to the Asian side of Istanbul and back again.

This lady and her husband were both from Istanbul but, if I understood him correctly, had never been on the ferry before.

Saw the grandiose Dolmabahce Palace, built on the European side of the Bosphorous in 1854.

 We both said, too late of course, it would have been neat to have hopped off the ferry at Ortakoy (above and below), the first and last stop on our ferry ride as the pier are area at least looked so intriguing.

Ortakoy Mosque

Another vieew of the Ortakoy Mosque.

Fatih Bridge from Istanbul's Asian side.

Close to the Fatih Bridge are the majestic structures of the Rumeli Hisari also known as the Fortress of Europe. Mehmet the Conqueror had the fortress built in a mere 4 months in 1452 in preparation for his siege of Byzantine Constantinople. To speed its completion, Mehmet ordered each of his 3 viziers to take responsibility for one of the three main towers. If the tower’s construction was not completed on time, the vizier would pay with his life!

The Bosphprous Bridge was opened in 1973 on the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Turkish Republic.

The Gokso Pavilion on the European side.
On the Asian side is the imposing Kuleli Military School, built in 1860. Can you see its 2 ’witch hat’ towers?

This couple was in Istanbul for the Muslim Bayrim holiday from Baghdad.
Back on shore after the fabulous ferry ride was completed, we took the tram toward Istanbul University and Sulelaniye Mosque. This little boy and I had fun playing finger games on the tram's glass partition. His sister, not to be outdone, was a ham in the making!

We saw a fair number of lovely wooden buildings like this one in Istanbul.

We ended up walking through most of the campus of the huge Istanbul Universityon our way to Sulemaniye Mosque.
Our ultimate goal was the Sulemaniye Camii but we ended up taking a rather circuitous route getting there, passing the smallish but beautiful Bayezid Mosque on the way.

 Suleymaniye Camii, perched on a hilltop opposite Istanbul University, is considered by many to be the most magnificent mosque in a city of magnificent mosques. The mosque, completed in 1557, has the highest dome of any Ottoman mosque. Unlike so many other mosques we’ve seen, there is little in the way of tile work but the extremely intricate stained glass windows more than make up for that. The mosque complex still includes a hospital, library, hamman (a Turkish bath), several schools and other charitable institutions that mosques generally operate.

I came VERY close to not being able to enter the mosque as the young security guard told me, after Steven had sailed in right ahead of me, that I could not go in because it was prayer time for Muslims even though it was apparent that other non Muslims were entering. A couple of Muslim women came to my defense and argued repeatedly with the guard saying he was wrong, that I should be allowed to enter for a few minutes. He finally relented when all this was causing a fairly large hue and cry and was witnessed by many people, but not Steven who was safely inside and ignorant of what I was going through a few feet away. I was so very moved by the women speaking their minds and taking the time to come to my aid when, like the men, they too could have remained silent.

I'm guessing by now you probably recognized the women's prayer section?
After visiting so many mosques, it's still intriguing seeing all the low circular lights. I'm not tired of seeing them nor seeing yet another mosque because just like earlier in the trip when we'd seen church after church, each church and now each mosque is different and each holds its own allure for me.

We wandered around the extensive exterior of the mosque; what a beautiful time of day as dusk fell around us and seeing the lights come on.

Heading back to Eminonu to catch Bus #99 back to the hotel, saw the New Mosque in a new light!

I apologize for the delay in publishing this post because of the computer freezing on me several times, losing the entire post an other because the computer wouldn’t ‘save’ what I had written and horribly slow internet connections in both Selcuk and Pamukkale. I hope it’s been worth the wait as I wanted to convey through words and pictures what an exciting day we had from beginning to end we had. 
Annie on 10/12 in Pamukkale, Turkey