Thursday 28 April 2011 by Stuart Baines. 2 comments
Battlefield Tours, Simpson Prize 2011

Hagi Sophia
Today we visited Hagi Sophia. Now a museum it was once one of the biggest churches in the world and then after the Ottoman Turks conquered the city became a mosque. It is an incredibly impressive building outside and in and walking in and looking up at the dome knowing that is the same width in diameter across the dome as an eleven story building is quite amazing. It is a museum now so it is not actively used for worship but it has taken nothing away from the grandeur of the place.

We also visited the Basilica Cistern, a huge underwater storage area that is now disused for anything but tourists and fish. It is atmospherically lit and walking around in the cold dampness really showed us cultural differences of the different people that have lived in the city and also at the engineering marvels that they were able to produce. Another surprise for me was the Suleiman Mosque. To me it had the same understated appeal that Chora Church but I had not seen the renovations on this mosque. It is beautiful and still being a functional house of worship it felt like it still had life and energy. The stark white and pinks of the walls and the shimmering black and gold glyphs makes it an amazing visula feast. It is not the most ornate or the biggest but there was just something magical about this place.

After lunch the kids were finally let loose on the Bazzar. Wow, they can really shop. Everything from scarves, shirts, tracksuits, spices... you name it they have bought it, including suitcases to bring it home in. It is a great cultural experience to walk the criss crossing streets of the Bazzar which is filled with people and sound and everywhere you look another bargain and another assault of colour and smells for your senses. It is a very easy place to get carried away in and we did our best to keep a lid on the spending. Some Simpson prize records were broken again at the Bazzar, 75 Camels were offered for Chelsea and I think J.P. may have come close to the most amount of shopping by a guy on the trip. All in all it was great day and all that remains is to wave the city goodbye by mid morning... just enough time for a early morning trip to the shops.



sounds cool

Oscar Tenerife

When I first visited Hagia Sophia in Istanbul I couldn't believe how big it is in real life. Its just much bigger than it looks in the pictures. I loved Turkey and it looks like you did as well.