On Friday we set off for Chora, the Kariye Museum, over on the European side of the Bosphorus, as Glynn, who had visited this museum before, was keen for Bronwen to see it. This relatively little known museum is an important Byzantine building, second only to the Aya Sofia. This little church is believed to date back to before the building of the city walls in the 5th century.
The building itself is typical of the late Byzantine era, having been restored many times over the years;but it is the interior that fascinates everyone. Inside there are the most magnificent mosaics and frescos adorning every wall. Fortunately, with the fall of Constantinople, the decorations were not destroyed, but were covered with wood panels and plaster when it was converted into a mosque, as were most of the Byzantine churches, including Aya Sofia. They have now been uncovered and the church/mosque has become a museum.
While we were there Serdar Dönmez, a licensed tour guide, was kind enough to tell us all about the mosaics! He gave us a fascinating talk and I would highly recommend choosing him as a guide.
From the Chora we visited the Aya Sofia as we felt that Bronwen just had to see this marvel. Unfortunately the ramp to the upper floor was far too steep, so Glynn went up alone while we stayed below. There is far more scaffolding up now as they try to restore the building to its former glory, although it looks as if it will be a very long time before it is finished. The mosaic above dates from the 10th century, and shows Constantine the Great offering the Aya Sofia, and Justinian offering the city of Istanbul, to the baby Jesus.
If you look carefully, you can see Bronwen and me waiting for Glynn.
We are sitting by the large marble vase.
The next day we travelled the length of the Bosphorus on a ferry boat and had lunch in a fish restaurant in Anadolu Kavaği at the entrance to the Black Sea, and then sailed all the way back again. This way, Glynn and Bronwen were able to see how Istanbul has spread up both sides of the Bosphorus, as well as enjoying notable sites such as the Dolmabace Palace, the great fortress of Rumeli Hisari and, of course, the famous 'Sillhouette of Istanbul', the outline of the old city. While we were waiting for the ferry, a shoe cleaner offered Bronwen a chair to sit on, which was very kind, except he then made David and Glynn pay to have their shoes cleaned!
Our next tour, on Sunday was to the Prince's Island where we headed for Büyükada, which means 'Big Island'. No cars are allowed on the island, so transport is by way of horse-drawn carriages. We took a tour of the whole island. The sun was shining, the day was warm and we had a wonderful time. Later, we dined by the sea in a fish restaurant before making our way back home on the ferry.
Unfortunately, today is Monday and Glynn and Bronwen have flown off back to England. I do hope they enjoyed their visit as much as we did!