10 Must-See Sites in Istanbul

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

The Hagia Sophia is a 6th-century Christian basilica, converted to a mosque by the Ottomans, now a museum. If the word awesome still had meaning, I would use it to describe the Hagia Sophia, temple of Holy Wisdom. It set the standard for Byzantine architecture, though it was 1,000 years before another cathedral surpassed its size. From the outside, it’s a red-orange mountain that seems to anchor the city to the Bosphorus shore. It’s not particularly beautiful but the air of greatness can’t be missed. On the inside, it’s vast and filled with the light of heaven. The massive dome practically floats above the wide-open space below. Interior surfaces are decorated with frescos, mosaics, calligraphy and marble.

 

Sultanahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque), Istanbul

The Sultanahmet Mosque is just down the way from Hagia Sophia. Together they are like bookends to the Hippodrome (Roman entertainment center). The Sultanahmet Mosque is commonly called the Blue Mosque after the 20,000 hand-painted tiles on the interior walls. It pairs well with the Hagia Sophia, not only in proximity but also as a complementary experience. While Hagia Sophia draws the attention upward, the Blue Mosque induces inward reflection. Hagia Sophia makes me go Wow! Blue Mosque makes me go ahhh. Inside the Hagia Sophia, I feel small. Inside the Blue Mosque, I feel peace. There’s a lot happening on the walls, with all the painted tiles, but the atmosphere is light and serene. Continue reading

How to Visit a Mosque

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi

Most Ya’lla Tours itineraries include visits to one or more mosques. These are some of the most exquisite buildings anywhere, must-see sites for their artistry as well as their cultural importance. Like all sacred places, mosques have certain expectations around attire and behavior. Here are some things to know: Continue reading

Foto Friday – Dome-a-lot

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi

Church of the Beatitudes, Israel

Church of the Beatitudes, Israel

Sultanahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque), Istanbul, Turkey

Sultanahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque), Istanbul, Turkey

Church of the Seven Apostles, Capernaum, Israel

Church of the Seven Apostles, Capernaum, Israel

Church of the Beatitudes, Israel

Church of the Beatitudes, Israel

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem, Israel

Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem, Israel

Abuhav Synagogue, Safed, Israel, photo by Itamar Grinberg, courtesy of the Israel Ministry of Tourism

Abuhav Synagogue, Safed, Israel, photo by Itamar Grinberg, courtesy of the Israel Ministry of Tourism

Muscat, Oman

Muscat, Oman

Santorini, Greece

Santorini, Greece

Suleymaniye Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

Suleymaniye Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Muscat, Oman

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Muscat, Oman

10 Must-See Sites in Istanbul

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

The Hagia Sophia is a 6th-century Christian basilica, converted to a mosque by the Ottomans, now a museum. If the word awesome still had meaning, I would use it to describe the Hagia Sophia, temple of Holy Wisdom. It set the standard for Byzantine architecture, though it was 1,000 years before another cathedral surpassed its size. From the outside, it’s a red-orange mountain that seems to anchor the city to the Bosphorus shore. It’s not particularly beautiful but the air of greatness can’t be missed. On the inside, it’s vast, immense, vast and vast and filled with the light of heaven. The massive dome practically floats above the wide-open enormity below. Interior surfaces are decorated with frescos, mosaics, calligraphy and marble.

 

Sultanahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque), Istanbul

The Sultanahmet Mosque is just down the way from Hagia Sophia. Together they are like bookends to the Hippodrome (Roman entertainment center), sort of. The Sultanahmet Mosque is commonly called the Blue Mosque after the 20,000 hand-painted tiles on the interior walls. It pairs well with the Hagia Sophia, not only in proximity but also as a complementary experience. While Hagia Sophia draws the attention upward, the Blue Mosque induces inward reflection. Hagia Sophia makes me go Wow! Blue Mosque makes me go ahhh. One more… Hagia Sophia makes me feel small. Blue Mosque makes me feel peaceful. There’s a lot happening on the walls, with all the painted tiles, but the atmosphere is light and serene. Continue reading