Topkapi Palace, Istanbul

Jerry and I made another early start when we went to photograph the Topkapi Palace, but the complex was already crowded with sight-seers when we arrived. Jerry paused outside the "Gate of Salutations", to video the crowds. The inscription above the gate reads, "There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet."

 The walls of the harem, guarding the warren of rooms and 
corridors that make up this complex.

Topkapi Palace covers such a vast area that it takes most of a day to really do it justice. This was the home of the Ottoman sultans for nearly 400 years, and was built by Mehmet II, on the site where the Byzantium Emperors had ruled since Roman times. Topkapi doesn't fit into most people's idea of a palace, as there is no one grand architectural edifice, but rather a collection of small buildings, surrounded by gardens and walkways.

An example of the intricate tiling in the harem

Jerry photographing some detail underneath an imposing 
entrance to a section of the harem

Even the pathways are beautifully designed

We saw many examples of exquisite doors, inlaid with mother of pearl

Jerry taking photos in the "Courtyard of the Queen Mother", 
a central courtyard where members of the royal household could meet.

One of the stained glass window in the royal princes suite.

We had lunch at the Topkapi restaurant, with a magnificent view overlooking the Bosphorus. Although I am sure that the view today is vastly different from the one that the sultans saw.

Photographed out, we finally left Topkapi and walked down the hill to the Bosphorus, stopping to look at the Sirkeci Railway Station, the final stop of the Orient Express.


Photographing Istanbul (Day 2)

 Cruise ships visiting Istanbul

Our first full day of photography was spent capturing some of the iconic sights of Istanbul, beginning with the Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia). Although we made an early start, we still had to wait in line, due to the influx of huge numbers of cruise-ship passengers into the city. Finally inside, we were able to take innumerable photographs of this magnificent building. The sheer size of this Byzantine masterpiece is breathtaking, especially when one considers that it was built nearly 1,500 years ago, without the aid of any type of machinery.

While we waited to go into the Aya Sofia, we took photos of the man 
selling sweet corn, a popular street snack in Istanbul

Now all the scaffolding is down, one can appreciate the sheer 
size and beauty of the Aya Sofya

We especially admired the beautiful mosaics

Our next stop was the Yerebatan Sarnici, also known as the Basilica Cistern, built by the Romans to store the fresh spring water brought to the city from the Belgrade Forest along enormous aqueducts. This underground cavern is eerily lit, and very difficult to photograph without a tripod, so we tried steadying our cameras on the rails to get our best shots.

The cavernous interior of the cistern is quite spectacular

It is easy to get around this part of Istanbul by using the tramway.

The Grand Bazaar, where we went to next, is always a colourful subject to photograph. It has been in existence since merchants travelled the old silk road, bringing their goods from distant exotic lands. The bazaar has been covered since 1461, following a decree by Sultan Mehmet II, the conqueror of Constantinople, giving it the distinctive style we see today. Jerry and I had great fun walking the streets of the bazaar and talking to the stallholders, who assailed us from all sides with their banter, "Please can I help you spend your money," being the most popular.

The Grand Bazaar was bedecked with flags for Children's Day

From the bazaar, we walked downhill, through the crowded, winding streets, full of little shops, all the way to the Egyptian Bazaar, by the Golden Horn.

On the way down, we saw these boys washing in a fountain.

Spices for sale in the Egyptian Bazaar

 Finally, with hundreds of photos captured on our cards, we headed for the Eminönü Iskelesi, where we boarded our ferry back to the Asian side for our journey home.

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I couldn't resist this one!