Last day in an incredible city, and we saved one of the best for last. This morning we visited the Hagia Sofia Cathedral, built by the Byzantines around 500AD, but converted rather hastily by the Ottomans in 1453 to a Mosque. The old Christian symbols were plastered over and replaced with Moslem symbols. Several centuries later much of the plaster fell off revealing the Christian paintings underneath. This must have been distressing to the Moslem worshippers. In the 1930's it was converted into a Museum showing its dual purpose as a cathedral and a mosque.
This was followed by a quick trip to the Medusa's head in the Basilica Cistern. The cistern was built 1500 years ago and used to store water for the people of the Hagia Sophia area of the city. In the 1800s it was restored and provided water for Topkapi Palace.
We took some time to sit in the park between the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia and reflect on all that we have seen and done in Istanbul. People watching is always a favorite pass time and this was a perfect place for it!! We stopped for lunch and beer at a small cafe on one of the side streets nearby.
It will be tough to leave Istanbul tomorrow morning, but Bosnia (Mostar) and Croatia awaits.
3 years ago