One of the Gems of Istanbul – Simpson Prize 2011
We made our way to Taxim Square for lunch and got to see an interesting display of how passionate the Turkish people are about their political processes. Hundreds of Police, hundreds of protesters but all very peaceful. Istiklal street runs into Taxim square and it is a 1.4 km strip of shops cafes and restaurants frequented by the younger Turkish crowd. It is always busy and the later it gets the more people crammed into the street. The kids had a lot of fun shopping and buying plenty of Turkish delight.
After lunch we made our way to Chora church. It is a museum now but we would call it in Australia a heritage building. It is a former catholic church, converted to a mosque and then converted back again. It is adorned with beautiful mosaics, a lot of the tiny tiles made from glass dipped in gold the walls shimmer as they tell their biblical stories. One of areas has magical frescos, the oldest outside of Italy, that have been restored and really give a sense of how important and how old this church really is. It is only a small church but there is something quite humble and unassuming about the place despite how brilliant the place is. Everyday here there seems to be something that just makes you smile that shows that great Turkish uniqueness. Sorry to give you another animal story but as we moved about in Chora we saw one of the many, many stray cats trot its way through the hundreds of legs and disappear threw a doorway. I half expected the security guards to chase it out but there was no commotion and no reaction. Seemingly anyway. When we walked into the next chamber, there in the middle of the room was the cat sitting on a marble square that was a feature block amongst the rest of the floor. The rooms other occupants were a bus load of tourists all wondering what was the better photo opportunity, the mosaic ,hundreds of years old, steeped in history and religious symbolism, or the cat licking itself.