Mosque, Mosque, Mosque . . . Fish!

I set out on a mission today to see some of the mosques that I still had to cross off my list.  I took a long walk westward from my hotel near Hagia Sophia, and, probably as I should have expected, I ended up spending more time in a few of the mosques than I thought I would.  I’m a little worried that some of my regular readers will accuse me of posting too many similar images of mosques, but believe me, they are all different (the mosques, at least), and I’ve gotten a lot out of seeing all of them.

In the evening, I didn’t really have any good idea what to eat, so I meandered down to the water, thinking that I’d cross the Golden Horn to have a meal on the Beyoglu side, but ended up getting distracted by the delicious fish sandwiches that are sold on the docks before I made it very far.

The photos are below (click to enlarge).  Allez Schleck!

Yes, another day spent looking at mosques. This is the Little Hagia Sophia, which was also built around the same time as its larger cousin. As the name implies, this one is much smaller.

The interior of the Little Hagia Sophia is as intimate as the larger Hagia Sophia's is vast.

This worker is taking advantage of fact that there is always a nice breeze under the arcades around the mosques.

The Book Bazaar is located in the shadow of another enormous mosque, the Beyazit.

Cool shade is also provided by the walls surrounding the mosque courtyards.

The Beyazit Mosque was one of the first grand mosques to be built by the sultans. It is far more ornate on the interior than anything that Sinan produced.

Another Sinan design, the Sehzade Mosque was the architect's first major mosque in the city.

The Sehzade Mosque must have been well used, as the worn marble threshold makes clear.

The fountains in the mosque courtyards are still actively used, and seem to be important meeting places.

The interior of the Sehzade is evocative of Sinan's later grand mosques to come. I was sitting in the back when prayers began, and stayed there inconspicuously throughout the ceremony. It was a powerful experience to see and hear the mosque in action.

Every surface in the mosque resonated with the sounds of the imam's melodious prayers.

The Aqueduct of Valens is an old Roman artifact that now serves as a huge traffic obstruction.

I made a trek to see this mosque, which was built as an ancient church, only to discover that it is closed for renovations.

Istanbul is composed of layers of history built on top, or crammed next to each other.

I made a twenty minute walk out of my way to visit the Fatih Mosque, only to discover, once again, that it is currently being renovated. The tiny glimpses that I got looked impressive, though.

From a distance, it's pretty hard to tell that the Fatih Mosque is being renovated. This does not help those who see it in the distance, and are intrigued enough to make their way to see it (I'm speaking from experience).

Corn on the cob is a popular street snack. The setting's not so bad, either.

These bobbing boats serve what has become my new favorite street food, the local fish sandwiches. Throw in a backdrop of the Suleymaniye on the hill, and I can't resist.

Although I try to sample as much of the food as I can, I've become addicted to these sandwiches, known as "balik ekmek," or "fish and bread." I could not resist getting one for dinner.

Lemon juice and salt are provided on the tiny tables. Nothing else is needed.

I'm not the only one addicted to these sandwiches. The tables were crammed with locals.

I can't imagine that it's easy to cook in these boats, but I guess the guys have had enough practice.

I couldn't resist snapping another photo of the New Mosque, which isn't so new (it was built in the 17th Century).

The New Mosque's arcade has some blue tile work that is vaguely reminiscent of the Timurid tile work that I encountered in Uzbekistan.

The mosque is in an extremely busy district, but the courtyard was surprisingly peaceful.

The Galata Bridge seems to be the most popular fishing spot. It's funny to see these people with enormous fishing poles pulling up sardines.

Istanbul has a huge population of ferrel cats. I sometimes hear them serenading me at night.

This guy sold me a kilo of tasty cherries for $2.

The quay in Eminomu becomes an open air market at night.




Cruising up the Bosphorous

Yesterday, I had planned to take a ferry up the Bosphorous, and explore some of the settlements on the shores.  However, the manager at my hotel convinced me to join a tour cruise that was making the same trip.  While the boat was comfortable, and food was served, I think that I would have preferred making the trip on my own by ferry.  I didn’t really have much time at all to explore.  Our first stop was at a fishing/beach village all the way up by the Black Sea.  Unfortunately, we stopped in the small harbor, which was also part of the beach/swimming area, and could not walk ashore.  Stupidly, I also forgot my swim trunks on my hotel bed, so the 45-minute stop was not all that great for me.  Our next stop only lasted 15 minutes, and I just had enough time to get an ice cream, and walk around a little bit.

All in all, though, I’m glad that I made the trip, although I would have appreciated a little more freedom.  It was nice to get a sense of the city from the water.

Here are the pictures:

We made our all the way up to the mouth of the straight at the Black Sea. This little fishing village was close to the Black Sea, and had an old Byzantine castle overlooking on a point up above.

We stopped at the town pictured in the photo on the top of this post for swimming. Like an idiot, I forgot my swim trunks on my hotel bed. These people were avoiding the crowds at the beach.

I caved in, and got some ice cream at a fishing village on the asian side. This one had vanilla, chocolate, and caramel.

This little village had what seemed like one fish restaurant per inhabitant.

Right around here, on the European side, a house just sold for $120 million.

This is a famous Turkish military academy. Some names with dubious reputations graduated from here. It's a nice setting, though.

Before this bridge was built in the seventies, the only way that Istanbullus could reach the different parts of their city was by boat.

A view towards Uskudar, on the asian side

The Dolmabahce Palace, pictured here, was built in the 19th Century, and soon replaced Topkapi as the sultan's preferred residence. Ataturk ended up moving in when he took power.

The Dolmabahce Mosque became the sultan's home mosque, too.

Dinner: a lamb dish, served in a white-hot terracotta bowl. I'm not sure this was the best choice after a hot day, but it was pretty good, once it stopped boiling.