Friday, March 25, 2011

Tuesday, March 22

We started the day with a breakfast of Menemen, a delicious soupy scrambled egg concoction.

Juliet eats her Menemen. She puts lots of chili on top. She must be a bit more Turkish than we thought!

As we walked up the street, we passed this Manti store. Manti arebaby raviolis. In this case, they contained a ground beef mixture.

We visited the Hagia Sophia, which means 'Saint Wisdom." Built in 535 by the Emperor Justinian, this building has survived three earthquakes, one of which destroyed the main dome. It is an example of the Byzantine architecture, where a dome is central and flanked by lesser domes, a structure that was copied by Ottoman architects building mosques.

In the 13th century, Constantinople was attacked during the Fourth Crusade and many of the artifacts were destroyed because the Latin side of the church was opposed to iconographic rtepresentation. In 1453, when Sultan Mehmet II finally entered Constantinople, the Hagia Sophia was converted to a mosque.

Outside entrance with arches that were added to hold up the structure during the Ottoman Period.

Minaret added in 15th century as part of the Christian-Muslim conversion.

Dome. Most of the mosaics are Byzantine in origin. As long as they did not represent life, which is un-Islamic, they were kept. The capitals on many of the columns were Justinian in origin and have a leafy design. These were kept despite their un-Islamic character.

Another picture of the interior showing the very impressive verticality of the space and the reliance on the arch to create lateral space as well.

We left the church and crossed the street to visit the cistern built during Justinian times. This is a large, underground artificial cavern with flat marble floor, hundreds of 7-meter columns. Very Harry Potter-esque. The water is only about 1 foot deep and it is populated by hundreds of fish and coins, but no inferi.

In the evening, we went out to a restaurant specializing in Turkish tapas--little dishes of all sorts of wonderful foods. These included a marvelously creamy yogurt and eggplant dish, a stack of freshly salted anchovies (outrageously good), a yogurt, spinach and garlic dish, grilled liver, and so much more.


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