ISTANBUL BY NIGHT
Istanbul, the only city in the world built on two continents, stands on. both shores of the Istanbul Bogazi (Bosphorus) where the waters of the Black Sea mingle with those of the Sea of Marmara. The Golden Horn divides European Istanbul in two. Here on this splendid site, Istanbul guards the precious relics of three empires, of which she has been the capital; a unique link between East and West, past and present.
However, Istanbul is not only historic, it is also a magnificent city that is fascinating and vividly alive. Beneath the unchanging skyline of her domes and minarets there is the continual bustle and movement of crowds, the rumbling of vehicles along andent cobblestone streets, the incessant coming and going and the cries of street sellers mingling with shipping sounds from the busy port. Istanbul has endless variety: museums, andent churches, palaces, great mosques, bazaars and the Istanbul Bogazi (Bosphorus). However long you stay, whether for just a few days or longer, your visit to this eclectic city will be unforgettable.
Topkapi Palace: Overlooking the Istanbul Bogazi and the Marmara Sea stands amaze of buildings that was once the great palace of the Ottoman sultans from the 15th to the I9th centuries. The first courtyard is a magnificent wooded garden. To the right of the second court, shaded by cypress and plane trees is the palace kitchen, now housing an exquisite collection of crystal, silver, and Chinese porcelain, while on the left is the Harem, the secluded quarters of the wives and concubines of the sultan. The third court contains the Audience Hall of the sultan, the Library of Sultan Ahmet III, an exhibition of robes worn by the sultans and their families, the famous jewels of the Imperial Treasury´ and finally, an exhibition of miniatures. In the center of the third court is the Pavilion of the Holy Mantle, enshrining relics of the Prophet Mohammed. (Open every day except Tuesday.)
Dolmabahce Palace: Built in the mid-19th century by Sultan Abdulmecit, it has an impres- sive 600-meter frontage on the Istanbul Bogazi. The most important part is the vast reception salon, with 56 columns and a huge 750-bulb crystal chandelier weighing 4,5 ions. The architecture of the Harem is in stark contrast to that of the rest of the palace. The Bird Pavilion, where birds from all over the world were once kept is unique to this palace. Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, died here on November 10. 1938. (Open every day except Monday and Thursday.)
Beylerbeyi Palace: On the Asian side of the Istanbul Bogazi, this palace was built of white marble by Sultan Abdulaziz in the 19th century. It possesses a beautiful garden with mag- nolia trees and was used as a summer residence of the sultans and as a guest house for visiting foreign dignitaries. (Open every´ day except Monday and Thursday.)
Yildiz Palace: This palace includes a complex of pavilions and a mosque which were built over a long period and finally completed by Abdulhamit II at the end of the 19th century, The Sale, the largest and most exquisite of the buildings, reflects the life of luxury of over a century ago. Yildiz Palace is set in a huge park with plants and trees brought from ever}´ part of the world. Situated on the top of a hill. it has one of the most beautiful panoramic views of the Istanbul Bogazi. At present only the Sale and park are open to the public. (Open every day except Monday and Thursday.)
Sultanahmet Imperial Mosque (Blue Mosque): Across from St. Sophia is the supremely elegant, imperial, six-minaret mosque of Sultanahmet I. Built between 1609 and 1616 by the architect Mehmet, it is known as the Blue Mosque because of its magnificent interior decoration of blue Iznik tiles. During the summer months, there is a light and sound show in the evening.
Suleymaniye Imperial Mosque: The mosque of Suleyman the Magnificent, where he and his wife, Hurrem Sultan (Roxelane), are buried, is considered the most beautiful of all imperial mosques in Istanbul. It was built between 1550 and 1557 by the famous architect Sinan whose wish was to surpass the builders of St. Sophia. Erected on the crest of a hill, it is con- spicuous from its great size, emphasized by the four minarets rising one from each comer of the courtyard. Inside, the mihrab (prayer niche showing the direction to Mecca) and the mimber (pulpit) are of finely carved white marble, and there are fine stained glass windows, Adjoining the mosque were theological schools, a school of medicine, a soup kitchen and hospice for the poor, a caravanserai and a Turkish bath.
Rustem Pasa Mosque: Another skillful accomplishment of the architect Sinan, this mosque was built in 1561 on the orders of Rustem Pasa, Grand Vizier and son-in-law of Suleyman the Magnificient. The exquisite interior is covered with some of the finest examples of Iznik tiles.
Imperial Fatih Mosque: This imperial mosque, constructed between 1463 and 1470, hears the name of the conqueror of Istanbul, Fatih Sultan Mehmet, and Is the site of his mausoleum. Standing on top ol one of the hills of Istanbul, it is notable for its vast size and the great complex of religious buildings surrounding it: theological schools, hospices, a hospital, baths, a caravanserai and a library.
Eyup Mosque: The Great Mosque of Eyup is situated outside the city walls near the Golden Horn where Eyup, standard-bearer of the Prophet Mohammed, died in an assault on Constantinople in 670 A,D. His tomb is greatly venerated and attracts many pilgrims. This was the first mosque built after the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul,
Yeni Mosque: Built between 1597 and 1663, this mosque, located at Eminonu, is one of the best known sights of Istanbul. An elegant fountain for ritual ablutions stands in the large courtyard and the sultan´s section is decorated with marvelous Iznik tiles.
Sokollu Mehmet Pasa Mosque: This 16th-century mosque, contructed on the slope of a hill below Sultanahmet Square, is one of the most beautiful examples of classical Turkish architecture and is a masterpiece of the architect Sinan. The pulpit and prayer niches are of special interest being covered with beautiful Iznik tiles.
Mihrimah Sultan Mosque (Edirnekapi): This mosque was also designed by Sinan and built in 1555 by Mihrimah Sultana, the daughter of Suleyman the Magnificent, This majestic mosque has 161 windows (some with stained glass) in three rows on each side, filling this mosque with an abundance of light.
Ayasofya Museum (Saint Sophia): This ancient basilica, built by Constantine the Great in the 4th century and reconstructed by Justinian in the 6th century, is one of the architectural marvels of all time- Its immense dome rises 55 meters above the ground and is 31 meters in diameter. The beautiful decorations include stunning Byzantine mosaics. (Open everyday except Friday.)
Kariye Museum: The 1th-century church of "St. Saviour" in Chora is, after St. Sophia, the most important Byzantine monument in Istanbul. The walls are decorated with superb 14th century frescoes and mosaics on a gold background. The church is a remarkable museum of Byzantine an that influenced the European Renaissance, Here you will find a quiet, carefully tended garden facing old wooden houses where you can enjoy tea or coffee. (Open ever day except Tuesday.)
Yerebatan Sarnici: Close to St. Sophia 1s the 6th-century Byzantine cistern known as the Yerebatan Sarnici, Fine brick vaulting is supported by 336 Corinthian columns. (Open everyday except Tuesday.)
Archeological Museums: These are situated on the perimeter of the first court of Topkapi Palace. The very rich collection of classical antiquities in the Archeological Museum includes the celebrated Alexander Sarcophagus, and the Athena Temple from Assos. The Museum of the Ancient Orient displays antiquities from the Sumerian, Babylonian. Assyrian, Haiti and Hittite civilizations, (Open everyday except Monday.)
Cinili Kosk (The Museum of Turkish Ceramics): This kosk, or pavilion, was built by Mehmet the Conqueror in the 15th century. It contains beautiful Iznik tiles from the 16th century and fine examples of Seljuk and Ottoman tiles and ceramics. (Open everyday except Monday).
St. Irene Museum: St. Irene was the first church in Istanbul built by Constantine in the 4th century and rebuilt by Justinian. It is reputedly the site of a pre-Christian temple (Open everyday except Monday but by appointment only.)
Ibrahim Pasa Palace: (The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art) Built in 1524 by Ibrahim Pasa, Grand Vizier of Suleyman the Magnificent, it was the grandest private residence ever built in the Ottoman Empire. It is now used as a museum for many beautiful Turkish and Persian miniatures, Seljuk tiles. Korans and antique carpets. (Open everyday except Thursday.)
Military Museum: The exhibits from Ottoman military history include the great field tents used on campaigns. There are performances by the Mehter Takimi (the Ottoman military band) between 3:00 and 4:00 p.m. (Open everyday except Monday and Tuesday.)
Sadberk Hanim Museum: A charming museum housed in two restored wooden villas.The museum is dedicated to old Turkish arts and handicrafts and includes an archeological section, It is situated on the Istanbul Bogazi at Buyukdere. (Open everyday except Wednesday.)
Museum of Fine Arts: Located in Besiktas, it is one of the best museums in Turkey for paintings and sculptures from the end of the 19th century to the present. (Open everyday except Monday and Tuesday.)
Museum of Turkish Carpets: A museum near the Sultanahmet Mosque which contains a fine collection of Turkish carpets and kilims, including some very old ones. (Open everyday except Sunday and Monday.)