Life in the Harem......
10.05.2011 - 10.05.2011 15 °C
Today was our first full day in Istanbul and we have survived a gruelling day of touring. We have found that walking on 4 to 6 century old marble is very taxing on our feet and backs! However, that said, we had a great day.
Our hotel is located in Old Istanbul, just steps from the main tram line. As I write this post we can hear the trolley bell!
So it was off first to Topkapi Palace, which is essentially the National Museum. 16.5 hectares of land makes up the Palace. One of our stops was to the Harem where we gained a sense of of life in the palace. Women in the Harem were chosen for their special talents, singing, speaking multiple language, musical and artistic ability. The Sultan would walk down the Corridor of Gold, throwing gold coins to the members of the Harem. We suspect the most talented got the most gold!
No visit to Topkapi would be complete without a visit to the Treasury, where we saw some of the most incredible diamonds, emeralds and rubies. While some found the favorite to be the 86 karat diamond, crusted with other diamonds my favorite were the emeralds that were bigger than golf balls and smaller than lemons. Oh, to have just one or two of those jewels.
We enjoyed a typical Turkish lunch with kebabs, lentil soup and baklava!!
No rest for this group - it was off to the Hippodrome (which no longer exist due to extreme earthquakes). The Egyptian Obelisk from 3500 years ago is still in tact.
Next our ladies donned our head scarves and the group headed to the Blue Mosque, the second largest mosque of importance after Mecca. Due to the design which incorporated six minarets, Mecca was required to build a seventh minaret so as to be the most important mosque! Over 20,000 distinct tiles adorn the inside of the mosque. It is pretty hard to describe but here is a couple of photos to try and tell the story!
The group scattered, we witnessed a feeding frenzy of Muslim women eating corn on the cob from a vendor, bartered for ice cream cones (which proved hugely amusing) and some of the group visited the Basillica Cistern, an underground cistern that has been partially restored. A couple of even found a pub, a pint of cold birra and the Russia/Finland hockey game. Who knew the Turks are Russian hockey fans?
Off to Gallipoli, Troy and Canakkale tomorrow. Thanks for reading our blog - today's entry was a joint entry from Carla, Sue and Jona!