Seljuk tile mosaic panel by boxplayer

Seljuk tile mosaic panel

13th-14th century from the Seljuk period - at the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, one of the very good museums we visited today.

A restless night as was quite hot even with just a thin sheet covering us. Couldn't really open the window as it was ground floor facing out onto the street. Eventually fell properly asleep till gone 8.

Good shower and a very good breakfast buffet: lovely rolls, cheese, eggs, roast veg, olives, Turkish tea - and two TV screens, one tuned to Russian telly.

Went up to reception to buy a museum card, but their contact had run out so we packed up and went along to the nearest museum, the grandly named Museum of Grand Palace Mosaics, to buy them. Was very hot in the sun as we passed by the Blue Mosque, surrounded by a high wall, along cobbled streets.

Passed lots of Turkish craft and souvenir shops - the old town is full of them: carpet shops, Izmir tile shops etc with their owners touting enthusiastically for trade.

Arrived at Sultanahmet Square, the site of the old Hippodrome of Constantinople, an old chariot racing track. The current road that circles round it apparently traces the circle of the old track. Here were some interesting monuments: an ancient Egyptian Obelisk of Theodosius from 1400 BC, being the most impressive, covered with hieroglyphics and sculptural reliefs below.

Lots of sparrows and more kittens and a pregnant cat, plus one with very obvious balls. Here we stopped to visit the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts. This was a series of chronological displays from the earliest times in the Near East to the 19th century.

There was loads of interesting stuff - old hand lettered Koran sheets from the time of Mohammed, a whole huge room of Ottoman carpets, beautiful tiles and ceramics plus an ethnographic display with displays around different themes like clothing and trades. At one I popped out to look at the Blue Mosque as the call to prayer started, very atmospheric.

Walked back to the big square to look for somewhere to eat and found Café Alzer, with lots of people already sitting outside at checked tables with beer. Lots of cats and kittens here again.

Went for sizzling shrimps in butter, cheesy pastries and a cheese omelette, plus an Efes beer, dave getting a malty one. Dave fed the cat his shrimps and somehow it knew when to go, because it disappeared as soon as the plates were cleared away.

On to Hagia Sophia next, getting into the fast track queue with our museum card. Loads of tour parties including a horrendously rude group barging their way through at the turnstiles and inside - it was almost as if you were invisible.

Inside the main entrance, I marvelled at the ancient mosaics on the ceiling. Inside, the nave was a huge impressive space with painted ceilings and domes, Islamic calligraphy and mosaics of seraphim with 3 pairs of wings. But alas marred by a lot of renovation work going on - one side was entirely covered over with scaffolding. At the front of the nave, was the minbar or pulpit which I kept misreading as minibar ...

Upstairs, reached by a flagged ramp winding up, were more stunning mosaics, some ancient marble doors and views over the nave.
Came downstairs and out for the loos and a drink stop - an overpriced San Pellegrino and a vile cold coffee drink for Dave - he thought he'd try it out. Got rather irritated at the staff or whoever who seemed to be jumping the queue.

Looked in at the Ayasofya hammam - the old Ottoman hammam - they had different price packages available - sounded interesting. Also looked in at the Arasta bazaar - endless shops of spices, ceramics, bags, hammam gear, and a lot of tat.

Visited the mosaic museum for a bit of a respite - no tour groups or any crowds here and lots of totally delightful fragments of a large Byzantine mosaic - animals, people hunting or going about their work - and more - placed sort of in situ and many pieces still quite whole.

Back to the hotel to enjoy their complementary tea and biscuits on the terrace. Then decided on a restaurant up the road, Altura Kisthma. Had to walk past a lot of pushy restaurant touts including honest John's who'd once worked in Doncaster apparently.

We were seated on a terrace outside, first having to turf out a cat from the comfy seats - a tiny black kitten who hung around for Dave's shrimps. I had hellim and spinach pide, Dave a huge spinach and pistachio starter and seafood in a wok. Plus iced tea and fresh orange.

Walking back we were harangued by honest John from Doncaster who had also worked in a Wetherspoon's. Very hot in the room, so kept the window open while we read in bed.

Mosaic of cherubs riding

3 October 2019
Istanbul, Turkey
Wow, I loved reading about your day, very interesting!
October 20th, 2019  
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