Friday, March 25, 2011

Monday, March 21st

We started the day by taking a cab to visit the Blue Mosque, started in 1609 and finished in 1617. At the time it was built, it was the second mosque to sport six minarets. It derives its name from the blue tiles adorning the interior, many of which have faded or changed color because the Sultan set the price and the tile producers cheapened the glaze because the price could not change. This mosque was built on the site of the palace of the Byzantine emperors. It also sits partly atop the old hippodrome where the Byzantines used to gamble on horses (no longer permitted under Islamic law).

Exterior view. Not that blue because the name was assigned to tiles in the interior.

One of six minarets. It was a tradition for sultans to build mosques from the proceeds of a great military victory. This particular Sultan, Achmed I, had signed a peace treaty and therefore hand no profits to show. So, he dipped into the treasury, which was a deeply unpopular move among the ulema or Muslim scholars.

Blue tiles for which the mosque earned its name.

Graceful arches that contribute to making this building one of the world's greatest monuments.

More blue tiles.

Just plain wonderful to behold.

We visited the very famous Grand Bazaar. Juliet was looking for a purse.

Not much interested in "stuff", I took this picture of a Kebab grill. I was particularly interested in the grillmeister, who worked marvelously efficiently, with the smoothest of movements. True art.

We sat for tea at the end of the bizarre, I mean bazaar, experience. Linnea enjoys Turkish tea.

That evening, we enjoyed Turkish custards (Kazandivi which means bottom of the pot and is browned with caramelization) and Sakiz muhallevi, which is flavored and thickened with mastic. We also enjoyed this fabulous dessert, which is called Noah's custard, probably because the multiple fruits represent the multiple animals on the ark.


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