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So... this is the closest to an Islamic/Middle Eastern country that Chris and I have ever been too. It had the whole call to prayer five times a day (once daily at 5:30 AM!), and we were officially closer to Baghdad than Berlin. However, we were on the European side of Istanbul for the most part, and Turkey is an official "secular state", so we were neither in the ME or in a Muslim country. But it still felt worlds away from anything that we have experience before. You could say it was a Whole New World.

We had five days in the city, which was perfect because we took our time to see as much as possible. We saw many traditional Islamic and Ottoman treasures. There were many Mosques, the most famous being the Blue Mosque. We were surprised to see many Mohammad relics including the Prophet's footprint, sample of hair, and prayer book. We visited the Sultan's Palace (Topaki Palace) and his Harem. I almost joined, but they wouldn't take blondes. Too dangerous.
There were also a lot of ancient Christian heirlooms, as this was the center for Eastern Christianity once-apon-a-time. There are many things that still survive since the construction of the city by Constantine in the 4th century. The Burnt Column, said to have Moses' rod, the five (or seven) loaves that Jesus blessed, and the Trojan horse from Troy under it to protect the city. We also saw an underground Cistern, which collected water for times of siege on the city in Justianian's time (6th century). And of course, the most famous, the Hagai Sophia, which was an early church, converted into a Mosque, and now is a museum. It was originally built by Constantine, but rebuilt by Justinian and numerous others as it has been sacked and re sacked over its 1,500+ history. Although it looks rundown from the outside and inside, it has one of the most famous pictures of Jesus in one small, hidden corner. It is amazing that it has survived since the 9th century through so many changing of hands and beliefs!

We thought a lot about early church creeds that were written here, early church fathers that preached in these buildings, and how life might have been in this ancient seaport. As we ate our Domino's pizza and watched Turkish television, we saw how much western culture has influenced the Turkish way of life, but also how much is untouched by modernization, and how we really felt like we strangers in a strange land- not helped by our hair colors. Very Happy
newsoft wrote:

We visited the Sultan's Palace (Topaki Palace) and his Harem. I almost joined, but they wouldn't take blondes. Too dangerous.

Topkapi palace /not topaki / and it is not blong to an individual sultan
nearly all ottoman sultans after Fatih Sultan Mehmet stayed in this palace.
how do you know they wouldn't allow blondes?
if you are a lady no problem,if you are a man you need to eunuch Laughing

i know a book who tells letters of a lot of europen men wanted to be eunuched and serve in Harem.if can find english version of this book i will send to you.

. As we ate our Domino's pizza

you are in Istanbul
there are wonderful examples of turkish kebabs and other delicious things{lahmacun,dolma,iskender,doner,hunkar begendi....} and you prefer pizza

don't forget baklava and other turkish delights.{kadayif,kazandibi,sarma,...}

what a pity for you Wink
some examples of turkish kitchen
see what did you miss Crying or Very sad
next month i will visit Istanbul and the first thing that i will do visiting one of the best kebapci then i will get very nice kaymakli kadayif

Thanks for the information and pictures Very Happy
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