Wednesday, March 21, 2012


My Sultanahmet day...

A ferry ride into Europe:

Hagia Sophia:

Believe me when I say, it is a world wonder for good reason. Besides being almost 2000 years old, being covered in marble from top to bottom, and hosting the likes of Constantine and Mehmet II in it's prayer chamber, it also employs a man who was convinced that Hannah and I were twins. 

(*In a whisper from his guard stall*)
"Come here lady, I have question..."
(*Still in a whisper. Why we were whispering, I don't know.*)
"You chins?"
"Chins. You chins?"
(*My mind: Chins, chins, chins, chins...?!*)
"Hmmm, tourists? Yes, I am a tourist, but that is my friend Hannah, she lives he..."
"NO. CHINS. You sisters? CHINS."

Twins. Ah yes. No sir, we are not chins. 

I walked into the front entrance and stood there spell bound for a long while, it is that beautiful. The work is unthinkably expansive, intricate, and clearly, built to last. I felt incredibly small standing under elaborate, sweeping domes; under ancient paintings of angels that had been done and redone through years of conquest and religious turnover. I saw the alter that is skewed by 3 degrees from the center because it now faces Mecca and not Jerusalem, walked through the upstairs galleys where Queens were allowed to observe church services and prayer, took in the shading in the the thousands of tiles and stones that made up images of Jesus and Empresses. I can't imagine how many hours and numb fingers it took to finish the vast mosaics that cover the walls. Neither can I imagine the feeling of gratification at laying in that last stone and seeing the finished work.

Blue Mosque:

Where the Hagia Sophia is red, the Blue Mosque, directly opposite, is (rather appropriately, I think) blue. It has six minarets instead of the customary four, three, two, or one, because the Sultan - in an attempt to outshine the Hagia Sophia - demanded the four intended minarets be made of gold. The words "gold" and "six" are similar in Turkish, and a slightly fuzzy phone line resulted in six decidedly non-gold turrets.  

New Mosque:

Brand new - built in 1597 and all that - it was right off of our ferry terminal and hosted the greatest amount of pigeons I have ever seen. It was also breathtakingly beautiful. 

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