Istanbul: Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace


Turkey is an ancient Jewel. The monuments, the palaces and the stories makes Turkey a blend of Greek, Roman, Egyptian and the world architecture and what amuses me that even after the revolts, break downs and conquest, the rich cultural heritage is preserved intact.

Robed and In the moment @ Topkapi Palace, Istanbul
For all previous posts on Turkey click here

 Hagia Sophia 

 So our second stop was Hagia Sophia. Hagia Sophia was a church. After the conquest of Istanbul, the church was converted into a mosque and then in 1934 the mosque was converted into a museum. So now, Hagia Sophia is a museum.This ancient basilica, built by Constantine the Great in the 4th century and reconstructed by Justinian in the 6th century, is one of the architectural marvels of all time.

From Church to Mosque to Museum @ Hagia Sophia Istanbul, Turkey

 The stories from Hagia Sophia talks about construction and reconstruction. The church was constructed thrice. First, it was constructed in 329 AD with wooden wall with sapphire in color. Then it was constructed in 115 AD and it was in Marble. Before the Byzantine empire, it was roman empire and before the roman empire was the earliest Greek who arrived in 6th century BC and they set their city, their temples everything.They used Marble and Red Brick. But by 532 AD with the revolt it collapsed. The current building that stands was constructed in between 532 and 537 AD on the orders of Byzantine Empire and was the third church. 10,000 people constructed the church in 5 years.After one year the center of dome collapsed because of heavy material they used. They had hired guys from Greek civilization from ancient part and they reconstructed again. And in the reconstruction the material they used was volcanic ash which was lighter but stronger.

Arabic Calligraphy

Mosaic Panel from 12th Century
Virgin Mary in the middle, child on her arms, Emperor John II Komnenos on the left, his wife the Empress on the right. Here the Emperor and his wife is donating money to Hagia Sophia

Mosaic Panel 11th Century
Christ on the throne in the middle
Emperor Constantine on the left and Empress Joe on the right.

 Famous in particular for its massive dome, It remained the world's largest cathedral for nearly a thousand years, until Seville Cathedral was completed in 1520.This church initially was orthodox church with the crusaders and then changed to catholic church.When they constructed this church they used material from all over the world. They bought many columns from Egypt. They bought many columns from Greece and some from Temples in Ephesus. From different parts, the material they collected created different structures and in 1453 was converted into a mosque.And in a mosque you cannot have image of any other religion that’s why they covered all images with muslin. You can see Arabic Calligraphy at one end and visuals of virgin mary with Jesus at another.

 Tip1 : The best part is from two of the windows at Hagia Sophia you get the best blue mosque view.

The Snake Patterned Pool

Topkapi Palace

 The great palace of the Ottoman sultans from the 15th to the 19th centuries housing an exquisite collection of cyrstal, silver, and Chinese porcelain, robes worn by the sultans and their families, the famous jewels of the Imperial Treasury, miniatures, the Holy Mantle; enshrining relics of the Prophet Mohammed.

 Tip2: Robe yourself like a sultan at the place where they click pictures. 

Topkapi Palace is closed on Tuesday.

Tip 3: Get a museum pass if you want to visit Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace along with rest of the museums. The museum pass cost TL 85 for 5 days whereas separate entries to Hagia Sophia and Topkapi palace would itself cost TL 40 each.

If you want to taste Indian food there are two Indian restaurants near Hagia Sophia - Dubb and Swaad. We didn't eat at Indian restaurants but the rest of group did. There are lot of restaurants in Sultanahmet. We don't remember the names but we ate at the road side restaurants near Blue Mosque.

Baklavas at Sultanahmet

The trip to Turkey was in part collaboration with Travel Shop Turkey and part collaboration as a result of Skyscanner contest win. Namita Gupta was my companion in the trip.

1 comment

  1. Great post! My husband and I are currently traveling with the hope of heading to Turkey in July this year. Will definitely follow your tips! If you have some time to spare do check out our amateur attempt at blogging


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