Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Topkapi Palace

The Topkapi Palace is where the Ottoman Sultans lived. And what's this?

This is a blurry photo of the Topkapi Dagger, one of the most famous pieces in its Treasury. Sean saw a picture of it in a book when he was a kid (here's a not bad photo of it) and was fascinated. So even though no photos are allowed, he tried to sneak a pic.

Here are some of the outside bits. The palace is made up of a series of courtyards, each more secluded from the public.

Of course, if you're the Sultan, you build your palace with a nice view.

And with lots of nice stuff inside. In addition to the Treasury, where I saw more emeralds that were larger than a fist -- and not my fist, my hand is tiny, but like a giant's fist -- than I imagined existed in the world, we also saw the Harem (the private apartment for the Sultan's mother, his wives, his concubines, and his children and where the battery on Sean's camera died), and the sacred relics ("in this case is Moses's staff" uh-huh).


Saturday, October 08, 2011

Aya Sofia

The Aya Sofia was built in 537.

It's been a church, a mosque, and since 1935 a museum. This is what it looks like inside. It's ginormous.

Here's a mosaic of Madonna and Child juxtaposed with the minbar.

This is the Omphalion, the spot where emperors were coronated.

This column is very crooked, most likely because it is very old and there are earthquakes in Turkey.

Crosses can be seen through the geometric designs put over them.

The dome.

The walls have crazy, symmetric marble designs.

There are a lot of mosaics. In this first one, the Empress Zoe is depicted to the right of Christ and her husband to the left. As she had three husbands, they just scraped off the old head and put up a new one each time.

Outside the Aya Sofia but in the same complex, there are the tombs of five sultans. I think this one was my favorite.