One Basilica and Five Mosques
Maybe it should be six mosques, since Hagia Sophia was converted to a mosque after Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks. In any case, I woke up early to get to Hagia Sophia when it opened at 0900, since I anticipated (correctly) that the lines would be long on Saturday. There were alrealy over 100 people in line in front of me before it even opened. The basilica and surrounding area is now a museum, and the entire site is currently under extensive renovation, including a giant scaffolding taking up most of one side of the nave. Even with this interloper, the space is still magnificent and awe-inspiring.
I paid a visit to Constantine and Justinian on the way out.
After a quick bite to eat, I visited the Sultan Ahmed mosque, popularly known as the Blue Mosque for the blue tiles lining the inside. Here it is from the distance:
After waiting in line for about half and hour, I removed my shoes, placed them in the provided plastic bag, and entered this impressive interior:
The next mosque was the Sultan Sulieman mosque, which is the largest mosque in Istanbul:
After passing through the Grand Bazaar, where I managed to not buy a single thing (I was accosted by relatively few salespeople, all things considered), I visited the Sezhade Mosque, also known as the Prince's Mosque, where I took this picture of the dome for my dome collection:
I next walked through the Egyptian Spice Bazaar, where the crowds were much thicker than in the Grand Bazaar, and wound up at the New Mosque on the other side. Here are pictures of the interior and some of the domes of that mosque.
Finally, I walked back through the Egyptian Spice Bazaar, down one of the crowded market streets, up a set of stairs which were tucked out of the way so that they were almost impossible to locate, and into the Rustem Pasha Mosque. This is a much smaller, more intimate mosque, and is known for its exquisite blue tiles. It is a nice, quiet retreat from the bustling market below, and was the favorite of the mosques I have visited so far. I plan on visiting again before leaving Istanbul. Here is a picure of people praying (not during an official prayer time) and one of the dome.