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)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Istanbul - Chora and Galata

The birding tour was almost upon us, but there was still time to see a few more of the ancient places of Istanbul. Chora and Galata were sites I hadn't thought about visiting, but I'm so glad we did, even though the day turned into quite an adventure.

The remains of the great Palace of the Porphyrogenitus.

Our walk began near the Golden Horn in the Western Districts of Istanbul. A word of warning, don't fall for the dropped brush by a shoe-cleaner trick, we did. It's in the big Loney Planet guide to Turkey, but not in our smaller Istanbul guide. A shoe-cleaner guy walks by and drops his brush, offers a shoe clean for picking up his brush, then bingo, tries to charge you a huge amount for cleaning you shoes! We didn't give him much in the end, but it was an unpleasant start to the day.

The palace complex was built in the 13th century, now theres a lovely little park at the base for the local residents.

The wonderful Byzantine palace after the 1453 conquest was used to house wild animals, a brothel and as a poor house for the Jews.

Amazing brickwork, as in many Byzantine buildings.

The Theodosian Walls, with restoration work. The walls are vertical and very high as you can see, something I would dread shortly!

The old and the new. I like this photo of a modern children's play area set in walls built around 400 AD.

This is where my dread of the walls really began. As I have become older, I now have a fear of heights. To get on top of the walls (which we wanted to do) there are steps, very steep narrow ones, with no rails. You can see them past the trees, they look like a vertical section of the wall.

I'm smiling, but I'm not too happy, I have to get down yet.

Liz has no problem, but either side it's a 4 storey sheer drop onto the road below.

Great view of Istanbul, but 'Stay away from that edge!'

These are the steep crumbling steps. Beyond that edge you can see, the steps are narrow, short and at about an angle of 70 degrees. It was worse going down, but I didn't die, so it was a good day!

'Get out, I'm not doing that!' The next section of the walls was higher and even steeper with smaller steps!
We went to Chora Church instead.

The amazing Chora Church, tucked away in the back streets of Istanbul.

A fantastic looking brick church built in the 5th century.

For a small church, the amount of wonderful mosaics and paintings is staggering.

'Reflection'. I like this photo of Liz at Chora.

Another of our destinations, The Galata Tower, across the Golden Horn in the crowded Istanbul suburb of Galata.

Narrow winding streets lead to the top of the hill and Galata Tower.

The beautiful and interesting Galata Tower.

It's 67 metres tall, has a shop, restaurant, observation deck and lots of stairs.

The bridge we had to cross to get to Galata from the main part of Istanbul, with the Aya Sofya, Blue Mosque in the background, and smaller New Mosque in the foreground.

Looking down the Golden Horn. Wonderful 360 degree views form the observation deck, which is almost 52 metres above the ground. I have no height worries if there's a good rail!

The Golden Horn entrance into the Bosphorus, looking towards the Sea of Marmara.

Our hotel somewhere on the other side of the Bosphorus and the Camlica Hills, where our birding tour would take us tomorrow.


Penny said...

Thank you so much for these wonderful photos, a place I would love to visit but doubt I ever will.

Richard King said...

Thanks Penny. I never thought I would get there, but you never know where life takes you.