We couldn’t ask for more beautiful weather! It was very foggy when we arrived on Saturday but this morning it was glorious. After a late breakfast we started our day with a walk to the Hagia Sophia. This was first a Christian church, built to rival St Peter’s in Rome. When the Ottomans defeated the Christians in 1453 it was changed to a mosque and is now a public museum.
Quite a few ancient mosaics from the original Christian church have been discovered. Many were covered with plaster when it was changed to a mosque. This actually helped to preserve them.
Next we stopped in to see the underground cistern. Built on the site of an earlier basilica, it is often called the Basilica Cistern. There’s only a few feet of water in it now. When in use it was big enough to hold 27 million gallons of fresh water. Two of the pillars have even older bases of stone with Medusa heads carved in them. No one knows why this one is placed upside down. The other one is sideways.
This is the Blue Mosque, nicknamed for the blue tiles inside.
You can buy fresh pomegranate juice on the street!
And there are lots of healthy looking cats hanging around.
Today we stayed in the old district. These sites are within a mile of our hotel and it was easy walking. Tomorrow we’ll continue to explore this city of twenty million people!