Monday, August 17, 2009

Last full day in Istanbul - Eyup and Chora

Today is the last full day in Istanbul and I spent the early morning visiting some of the major tourists sights that I had missed earlier. First stop was the Column of Constantine but I was disappointed since it was under total wrap for renovation. Nearby was the historical Turkish bath, the Cemberlitas bath which I popped in to have a look and some shots.

My next stop was the Basilica Cistern which was built as a vast underground water storage tank. Quite a fascinating sight with the eerie lighting and shimmering water.

There were many columns, the most unusual is one with the upside-down Medusa head since the columns were reused from older Greek buildings.

Next stop was another Turkish bath, this time the Cagaloglu Hamami. I found this visually more appealing than the more historical Cemberlitas Hamami as the photos below show. This is one of the 1,000 places to see before you die as featured in the book of the same name by Patricia Schultz.

Since we had booked a tour to Eyup Mosque and the St.Saviour Church in Chora for the afternoon, my wife used the remainder of the morning to complete her shopping for souvenirs for friends and family members. so it was back to the Spice Market. Luckily, all the shops around the market were opened this time and she managed to get what she wanted. We had lunch at the restaurant Maestro, right in front of Erboy Hotel. It was something special, the kebab in a pitcher which was really beef stew to me. But it was very tasty, one of the best meal so far.

After lunch, our tour bus came to pick us up for the tour and when they dropped off two guests at the Old City, there were just the two of us so we had the whole tour to ourselves. The tour only covered the Eyup Mosque and the St.Saviour Church of Chora but I requested the guide to include Pierre Loti Hill and he obliged since it was along the way. In fact, this was the first stop. From the hill, you have a great view of the Golden Horn.

We took the cable car to the foot of the hill and it was just a short walk to the Eyup Mosque. Inside we found many young boys dressed like a prince and we learned that they were prince for a day before they go for their circumcision. This mosque is one of the holy places for Muslims since there is a footprint of Prophet Mohammad which attracts a lot of pilgrims.

From Eyup Mosque, we went to the Church of St.Saviour in Chora. The church is choked full of mosaics and frescoes showing scenes from the Bible, especially the life of Christ and the Virgin Mary.

The tour bus dropped us at the hotel where we had a rest before we ventured out for our last dinner in Istanbul. After dinner, it was last minute shopping by my wife. Then it was the task of fitting all the shopping into the luggage.
Ronald Kwok

No comments:

Post a Comment