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Monday, June 17, 2013

musing on what used to be

Today was perhaps the most intense day of touring that I have ever experienced.  I'm sure I walked about 8 miles, visited amazing places, and it all started with breakfast from the terrace/roof of my hotel.  Here is the honest to goodness view I had at breakfast---the Hagia Sophia to the right and the Blue mosque to the left....oh and the water and shipping lanes were the view the other direction.   Quite nice.


Blue mosque from breakfast balcony

hagia sophia



The day started with a visit to Topkapi Palace.  An amazing place to see how the royal sultans lived.  But what makes this palace so special is its relics: King David's sword (he is called prophet David in Islam); Moses walking stick; Abraham's cooking pot; a turbin from either Joseph or Jacob and eve a piece of John the baptists arm bone.  There are also some very revered relics of the founder of Islam including his sword, cloak, a piece of his tooth and even a beard hair.   They also had on display many of the swords of great leaders of Islam.   That started an interesting chain of thought, for Christians I don't think we believe Jesus ever owned a sword.  In fact you would never see the great swords of any of his early followers--as I doubt they had one.   No battles won by Jesus or Paul, or Peter or John.... .

some of the relics on display
Next a walk through the old city to the Grand Bazaar.   Here's a picture of a very said column.  It's called the burnt column.  some of the top is missing.  In it's day it was huge and held a sculpture of Constantin and his mother Hellen.  Later a huge gold cross was put top...it was stolen by someone and lost for the ages.  So what used to be the center piece of Constantines rule and faith....now is just a weird old column on the way to the Bazaar. 
Once marking the cener of the Marketplace
in Constantinople with a statue of Constantine
and his mother, or later a cross...now almost
forgotton....next to a dozen little shops.

A quick trip to the university of Istanbul lead to my traveling to perhaps the greatest mosque in the world for its beauty-- the mosque of Suleyman the magnificent.  Here is some perspective, this guy was the Sultan during Luther's time period and he was able to erect this mosque started in 1550 and was finished in a decade.  No wonder the Holy Roman Emperor wasn't happy with Luther--a powerful and strong Islamic force was present and pushing on Europes borders.  The Ottomon empire was the real deal and this mosque is one of the most beautiful buildings I've ever seen--spectacular.


Inside Suleyman the magnificent mosque

This mosque dominates the Istanbul landsape

From here to the Egyptian spice market--I bought Turkish delight candy!!!  In between a few mosque visits and some shopping with the locals.
The spice market--I got candy


Finally, I was very disappointed that the public cannot go into Hagia Irene (The Peace of God) which is one of the most important churches in Christendom.  Here on this site in 381 Constantine hosted the 2nd Ecumenical council.  The decisions there were about the nature of Christ, the status of Mary were all discused.  What happened here shaped Christendom.  I really wanted to be able to go inside and pray.   Well, as luck would have it there was quite a nice concert in the church tonight if you were willing to spend the 90 Lira to get in...I was there in a minute.  So I got to sit and pray in the Hagia Irene for over two hours while the Munich Chamber Orchestra was playing and Khatia Buniatishvili was the quest pianist.  I also got a chance to see and say hello to the very famous Polish conductor, Krzysztof Penderecki who was there to accept a lifetime achievement award.  Quite a night...for $45 bucks...not bad.  The acustics in the church were great. 
Hagia Irene

Interesting aside, the church of Heavenly Peace, it is the only Christian Church in Istanbul that wasn't at some time or another used as a mosque...so its archetecture is intake.   It was however used as an armory, then a military museum and then a warehouse for war spoils---church of Heavenly Peace was put to some fairly warring purposes.  Today...it is a museum/concert hall.  But notice the big cross on the dome.   Beautiful night.

  1. Oh, and I also visited the blue Mosque and the Bascilica Cisterns which were an undergournd resevoir that the Christian emperor Justinian aded to the city..  Too late. Pictures ot them tomorrow.  Good night San Clemente!

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