Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Istanbul, Turkey

Agia Sofia, the most amazing example of Byzantine architecture and religious controversy

1 Lira is about 75 cents so each morning (and sometimes afternoon), I get fresh orange juice, just outside the hostel

The view from my window, on the fourth floor. Look to the left and you would see three beautiful, muted blue mosques in the distance

The hostel walls are painted a childlike yellow, blue, and white, with bright orange, green and yellow sheets on the beds. The doors are fire engine red, with yellow numbers. We are on the fourth floor, where winding staircases meet doors that overlook downtown Istanbul. The lights at night demand silence and awe, and the streets are littered with fruit juice vendors and meat sellers. Today, we walked down the tall cobblestone hill, across the bridge where fishermen were catching their lunch. We toured the cisterns, where 100,000 gallons of water flowed to the city in 500 AD. Then we went to Agia Sofia, and it was breathtaking. It was the largest cathedral in the world for nearly 1000 years. It was a mosque for 500 years until 1932, and now it is a museum.

The church windows faced Jerusalem, and when it was switched to a mosque, the center was shifted slightly to the right, for the pulpit to face Mecca. Old and New Testament mosaics vied for attention with the Arabic calligraphy elegantly displayed nearby. We had chicken and garlic sauce wraps for lunch, and attempted to do homework in the afternoon heat. I uploaded pictures from the morning, and then we went in search of Turkish coffee. Now I’m sitting on the bright orange blankets, desiring sleep but needing to do homework for tomorrow. We leave at 11:30 for Ankara. Good night, Istanbul.

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