Our group met outside the Istanbul University, which stands on the site of the original wooden palace belonging to Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror.
Our Photography Club trip this week was to the Cebeci Han, an area of copper workshops, dating from the 18th Century. Commercial areas in the older areas of Istanbul usually have the name "han" (inn), which is derived from the Persian word for "house". The hans were places to stay along the trade routes that were popular during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. They usually consist of a courtyard, surrounded by two to three stories of individual rooms.
A woman selling birdseed in the square in between
the Istanbul University and the Bayazit Mosque.
Each han bears the name of the merchandise sold there. Cebeci Han means Armour Inn, where, presumably armour was originally made, although now it is the han where copper products are fashioned and sold. We must have been an extraordinary sight as our group of expat women peered into workshops, and surveyed the area, cameras at the ready, snapping away. Mostly people were very tolerant of us, although there was one man, asleep in his workshop, who was very angry when he awoke to find a whole lot of foreign women hovering around his doorway taking pictures.
Over-sized copper-ware for sale on one of the upper balconies.
There was also the obligatory carpet shop.
If you fancy a carpet I can get you a good price!
Nizam Çolak's antique shop, in the Cebeci Han, is well known in Istanbul.
The Cebeci Han is right next to the Grand Bazaar, and we had to run the gauntlet of the ever-persistent stallholders to get to our next destination, the roof of the ancient Büyük Valide Han (literally the Big Mother Han). This han dates back to 1651, and was commissioned by Kösem Sultan, the mother of both Sultan Murat IV, and Sultan İbrahim, his successor. Although the han is fairly deserted and neglected, we did see some workshops operating. Their specialty appear to be hookah pipes.
We wandered through the Grand Bazaar.
The best thing about this han is its roof access. We climbed up crumbling staircases, through gloomy passages and ancient doorways to reach the roof. From there the panoramic view was spectacular, and we spent a happy time taking photos and admiring the scenery.
We climbed up crumbling staircases, and negotiated dark passages.
The panoramic view from the roof was amazing,
and well worth the climb!
and well worth the climb!
All too soon it was time to go, and we didn't have time to explore the Kalcılar, or "Silver" Han. This will have to be reserved for another trip. I thoroughly enjoyed this expedition, even though most of my photos were rubbish. Never mind, it's back to the drawing board and lots more practice with camera settings. I'm sure to get the hang of it eventually!