Monday, April 21, 2008

Blue Mosque, Topkapı Palace, & my sister!

Very successful first full day in Turkey. We visited the Blue Mosque in the morning - one of the most important, and beautiful, in the world. It's not as vast as St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, but for me equally awe-inspiring. There's a huge central dome, and many smaller ones cascading down around it. The inside is completely covered with blue İznik tiles - up close, you get to appreciate the intricate floral patterns. From a distance, they dissolve into geometric patterns.

(Here's a detail from one of the domes... I couldn't find any great images of the interior on Google Images.)

In the afternoon, we visited Topkapı Palace and the surrounding Gülhane Park. There are thousands (millions?) of tulips, and most are at their peak. We ate lunch in a little tea garden overlooking the Bosphorus, and then entered the palace grounds. There are four courtyards, each fancier (and more exclusive) than the last. We paid extra to see the Harem - well worth it. Much of it was built by Mehmet Ağa, the same architect responsible for the Blue Mosque, and it was fun to pick out details that carried over from the morning's visit. In addition to the palace buildings, we saw a neat collection of items that the residents would have used - china and silverware, armor, kaftans, jewels, etc.

(This is in the 3rd courtyard.)

We returned to our hotel, happy to find that Margaret had made it there safely, and drank beer on the rooftop deck. We had dinner at a famous local kebap shop (akin to Ben's Chili Bowl in DC) and dessert (tea and baklava) at a sidewalk café. Margaret and I stayed up late talking - it's so good to see her again.

No comments: