And the bush has friends to meet him, and their kindly voices greet him, In the murmur of the breezes and the river on its bars,
And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended, And at night the wonderous glory of the everlasting stars.

Banjo Paterson (1889)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Istanbul - The Blue Mosque

The next few posts cover the last segment of our recent European holiday, a history and birding visit to Turkey, especially Istanbul. I had long wanted to go to Istanbul, or Constantinople as it used to be called. I have read most of the history books by John Julius Norwich, the history of 'Byzantium' trilogy were one of my favourites. I think if I had been born in a different part of the world, I may have studied to become an Archaeologist (of ancient history), my other passion after birds and natural history.

A sunset view of Istanbul from the Asian side.

We didn't see much of Istanbul (except cars) the first afternoon, as in a city of almost 18 million people, traffic is usually bad, and our taxi ride from the airport to our hotel on the Asian side took over 2 hours.

The excellent view from our hotel room at the Hotel Harem. The cars are already queuing early in the morning to get onto the ferries bound for the centre of old Istanbul. The hotel was also great for viewing distant groups of Yelkouan Shearwaters (a new species for us) as they travelled up and down the Bosphorus.

The ferries are a wonderful and cheap form of travel in Istanbul.

A good way to watch birds as well. Shags, Cormorants and Yellow-legged Gulls.

I love the ancient romantic names in Istanbul. Here we are in the middle of the 'Bosphorus' looking towards the 'Black Sea', behind me is the 'Sea of Marmara' and to the left is the 'Golden Horn'.

The Galata side of Istanbul with the Galata Tower. It's on this side where most of the big cruise ships and expensive big yachts dock.

Other ferries that travel to different locations on the Bosphorus don't carry cars, but are for passengers only.

Our first view of one of the great Istanbul sights I wanted to see, the Blue Mosque.

Walk to the other side of the fountain, and you have the even more famous Aya Sofya. A place I wanted to see for a very long time after reading Norwich's books!

The Blue Mosque is a fantastic ancient building, built in the early 1600's and still an operating mosque.

The domes of the Blue mosque were designed to lead your eyes upwards to heaven.

The great central courtyard, usually full of tourists and devout muslims.

Stunning outside, domes upon domes.

Even more stunning inside.

Designed with lots of stained glass windows and four giant 'elephant's feet' pillars that hold up the main dome.

The pillars are massive and the ceiling artwork is amazing.

1 comment:

Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Nice pic of my father-in-laws bridge and no he didn't build it on his own.
Looking forward to the rest of your Turkish trip.