Istanbul 4, Turkey – April 2014

March 14, 2016

Some of the most amazing examples of engineering and architecture in the world are places of worship. We had seen a few of the most impressive; St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, England, the National Palace in Mafra, Portugal, the Basilica La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain, the Cathedrál de Cordoba in Cordoba, Spain, the Vatican in Vatican City, Italy, just to name a few, but standing in a class by themselves are the imposing mosques of Istanbul, and we just happened to be camped beneath the most famous one, The Blue Mosque, (called Sultanahmet Camii in Turkish). Known as the Blue Mosque because of blue tiles surrounding the walls of interior design, it was built between 1609 and 1616 during the rule of Ahmed I. Since it is an active mosque, it’s closed to non-worshippers for a half hour or so during the five daily prayers, so timing was important for a visit.

From our camping spot on the Bosporus we had a great view of the Blue Mosque.

From our camping spot on the Bosporus we had a great view of the Blue Mosque.

The equally beautiful Hagia Sophia (from the Greek: Ἁγία Σοφία, “Holy Wisdom”; Latin: Sancta Sophia or Sancta Sapientia; Turkish: Ayasofya), has an interesting history. From the date of its construction in 537 until 1453, it served as an Orthodox cathedral and seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople, except between 1204 and 1261, when it was converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral under the Latin Empire.

In 1453, Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks under Sultan Mehmed II who ordered this main church of Orthodox Istanbul 4 42Christianity converted into a mosque. The bells, altar, iconostasis, and sacrificial vessels and other relics were removed and the mosaics depicting Jesus, his Mother Mary, Christian saints and angels were also removed or plastered over. Fortunately many have been restored. In 1931 it was secularized and was opened as a museum in 1935. Today Hagia Sophia is the second-most visited museum in Turkey.

Famous in particular for its massive dome, it is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture and is said to have “changed the history of architecture”. It remained the world’s largest cathedral for nearly a thousand years, until the Seville Cathedral in Spain was completed in 1520.

The colors and patterns of the various domes in the Blue Mosque were exquisite.

The colors and patterns of the various domes in the Blue Mosque were exquisite.

Back when the Hagia Sophia was first transformed into a mosque, Fatih Sultan Mehmet The Conqueror, (Seventh Sultan Of The Ottoman Empire), and his followers prostrated themselves for the first Friday prayer, however, there was a slight problem, since the direction of the building was not facing toward Kaaba, the center of Islam’s most sacred mosque in Mecca.

There is an interesting column at the northwest of the building with a hole in the middle covered by bronze plates. It’s called the “perspiring column” or the “wishing column”. According to one legend, the dampness in the small hole is believed to be a tear of Virgin Mary. Rumors appeared during the East-Roman period that it had a healing effect on humans. People believed that they would get better if they put their fingers into that hole on the column and then rub them to the place where disease was felt. You can also just make a wish. We did.

 

37 Responses to “Istanbul 4, Turkey – April 2014”

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  10. Hi: I’ve been there, but didn’t notice a place to camp that close by. Glad you are having a great adventure. Will you be at the Overland Expo West?

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  26. It is a parking area where they let self contained campers stay. No water, only a stinky outdoor toilet. No tents. No, we will not be coming. Gary is having shoulder surgery on April 27. He fell on the Tahoe Rim Trail and his 50 lb pack landed on top of him. Tendon severed is what a final MRI showed. He’ll be in recovery for at least 6 months…

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