Istanbul – home away from home

Apart from the fact that I have lovely friends from Turkey, whom I will always keep close to my heart, Istanbul is a city that deserves being seen. Not only because of its rich history but because of the feel it brings into one’s life upon a visit – homey, cosy and simultaneously crowded, large, confusing.

I wouldn’t dare say that I have seen a lot of it. I have, as a matter of fact, seen tiny small piece. And yet I fell in love with it.

Two of the major site seeing spots are of course the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. Each of them has its own reasons to be so popular.

The Blue Mosque (named so by the public because of the blue tiles inside)  has been built between 1609 and 1616 and in present days it is not only a tourist attraction, but a functioning mosque as well. Therefore it is closed for none worshipers during the five daily prayers.

What makes the Blue Mosque special is the fact that it has six minarets, while most mosques have four, two or just one.  And of course the visually attractive cascade of domes spilling down from the great central dome.

No matter what your religion is, or if you have a religion at all –  you will find the Blue Mosque is a place of history and worship. And no one can say this is not enough for a place to be interesting.

The other place I really wanted to talk about here, and the one that created more interest in me was Hagia Sophia.

Hagia Sophia is a former Christian Church, built in 537. And right up until 1453 it served exactly as such. From then until 1931 it was turned into a mosque. And finally it became a museum in 1935.

What really mesmerized me was the fact that, even though it has been turned into a mosque for a great amount of time and the mosaics depicting Jesus, his Mother Mary, Christian saints and angels were removed or plastered over, a big part of the mosaics still existed under a coat of paint or tiles and at the present moment it is a place where two religions are uniquely intertwined. It is a feeling one can’t quite explain. But it brings a sense of peace and harmony.

The building is incredibly beautiful and if you are ever there, do not miss on seeing and touching the Wishing column positioned at the northwest of the building. It is believed that by touching the moisture on that column, any wish can come true.

-K.

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