We were in Istanbul, Turkey.
We were in Istanbul, Turkey! This was an overnight port of call. This port was the highlight of our cruise. The ship would arrive at 1pm. All aboard time was the next day at 7:30pm. We had plenty of time to explore.We were docked at Sali Pazari Pier, which was very convenient.
This was Findikli Tram station. Walking here was very easy. Head out to the main port gates, take a right and walk about 5 minutes. Total time to get here from the ship is about 10 minutes. Trams were quite frequent. Cost was 4 Turkish Lira per person, my kids travelled free.
This was Findikli Tram station.
The video below starts with Findikli Tram station and waiting for the Tram. This afternoon, we would take the Tram to Gulhane and then walk to Topkapi. It was quite a walk because there was an uphill clilmb, but we made it. The video shows you a glimpse of the Topkapi Palace.
The Topkapi Palace was the primary residence of the Ottoman Sultans for about 400 years of their 600 year reign. Today, it is a museum and a major tourist attraction. It contains many exhibits, including Muhammad's cloak and sword (as claimed by the museum). This museum became a UNESCO Heritage Site, and is described as "the best examples of ensembles of palaces of the Ottoman period.
Walking into the complex.
The place was rather large, with many rooms to explore, and also many tourists. We took about 1.5 hours to view the rooms. We definitely didn't cover all the exhibits and didn't see the Harem either. But I think we saw the most important ones.
Thereafter, we walked towards the Hagia Sophia. I used my phone GPS to guide me. The Hagia Sophia was just next to the Topkapi. We exited the Topkapi compound through these gates. Notice the armed guards.
Once you exited the correct gates, she was there, about 200M. However, she was closed today. So we decided to proceed to the Blue Mosque, which was just opposite the Hagia Sophia, on the other end of the Sultan Ahmet square.
This is the Hagia Sophia. Closed today. So we will come back tomorrow.
That's the Blue Mosque in the distance, located right opposite the Hagia Sophia.
Note the opening hours. I am not sure if these hours change on a daily basis, but it is not open the entire day. The Blue Mosque is used by worshippers for their prayers.
The official name is the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, built by Sultan Ahmet I, on the site of imperial palace of the Byzantine empire, opposite the Hagia Sophia (or Ayasofya as the Ottomans called it). The Blue Mosque is called Blue because of the blue paint used. See this picture of the interior.
Interesting to note that Pope Benedict XVI visited the Blue Mosque on 30 Nov 2006. This was only the second papal visit in history to a Muslim place of worship.
I made this video of our trip into the Blue Mosque. This place is definitely a 'must-see' in Istanbul. The insides were splendid and peaceful.
Move on to Part 2 of our stay in Istanbul, Turkey.