Monday, October 15, 2007

Turkey Travelogue 11a - Istanbul, Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia (June 14)

Back in Istanbul after a grueling overnight trip from Göreme, I had every intention of trying to find a cheaper place to stay. But when our shuttle finally let us off in Sultan Ahmet, we made a bee-line back to the Apricot Hotel, and with a little negotiation, secured a room for the same rate in time to enjoy their wonderful Turkish breakfast on the rooftop terrace. After a nap to deal with our 'bus lag' we stumbled out to see the sights.

We had already visited the magnificent Blue Mosque (built 1606-1611) on our first evening in town...
...Now it was time to visit its rival, the Hagia Sophia (or Aya Sofya in Turkish), built a thousand years earlier during the reign of the emperor Justinian in 537 AD:
The Lonely Planet guide opines that the "wham-bam effect" of the Blue Mosque's exterior surpasses the Aya Sofya, but that the latter has the goods when it comes to interior design. This judgement is up for debate (I agreed; t. preferred the Blue Mosque's interior too), but even with the scaffolding, the soaring dome is a stunning achievement:

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