Istanbul, 8 October 2018.
(Click on any image to see it in a larger size, if you are on a PC at least.)
Looking up at one of the side domes.
In the morning of our second day in Istanbul, we visited the Blue Mosque, constructed between 1609 and 1616.
A wider view.
The Blue Mosque was built on the foundations of the Great Palace of the East Roman Empire, though the palace was massive, much larger than the mosque.
Recent structure inside the mosque.
I actually found the Blue Mosque disappointing, as I was expecting much more and was expecting it to be more spectacular than Hagia Sophia and as impressive as the mosques and mausolea in Uzbekistan. I had earlier seen a spectacular photograph from inside it but I did not see anything like that. I suspect it was taken from he second level, which was closed. While it is a working mosque, I suspect the main shortcomings were due to the extensive renovations scheduled from 2016 to 2020. Probably they are now finished and the experience inside may be now quite different.
Centre of a sub-dome.
Looking up a wall and sub-dome.
Visitors to the Blue Mosque.
Looking up at one of the minor domes.
This shows how spectacular the fully restored mosque could potentially be. The main dome is off to the right but there was no view available from directly underneath it.
The area available for viewing was quite restrictive.
The carpet is obviously recent. I wonder what the original floor coverings were.
It might have been a seventeenth century statue of a worker with a vaccuum cleaner, but since it was moving it is likely it was a real person.
This shows how extensive the next floor is and how recent, presumably from the last fifty years. Previously the space was probably open below the central dome. I don’t know whether this is a measure to provide more space for worshippers or a temporary part of the renovations, but the view from above it is likely to be much more impressive than the view from below.
At the entrance to the Blue Mosque, looking towards the Hagia Sophia.
Next we visited the Basilica Cistern, a vast underground water storage, 140 by 70 metres, and contains 336 marble columns (each 9 metres high), not far from Hagia Sophia. Its name comes because it was below the square for the basilica. A basilica is a large Roman administrative building, associated with the forum. The water came from a forest 19 kilometres away.
It was built by Constantine and later rebuilt by Justinian following damage during the Nika Riots. It was also restored several times in the Ottoman period.
Two of the columns have Medusa heads at their base. They are said to be sideways or upside down to neutralise their power. Where they came from is unknown.
Medusa head the “right” way up.
So what do they look like the “right” way up? Here you see it. I’ve tested it out and after looking at the image, as far as I can tell, I haven’t turned to stone. If you have a different experience, I take no responsibility (and you’re unlikely to complain anyway).
The other Medusa head, this one is inverted.
… And here it is, the “right” way up.