36-Hours in Istanbul

I recently had the opportunity to chaperon a group of students and their professor on a trip to Istanbul related to their course, When There Were Two Europes: Islam and Chistendom, 711-1529.

The course explores the economic, political, and cultural asymmetries of the long symbiosis when Europe was divided at the Pyrenees into a Muslim and a Christian sphere. Al-Andalus(Muslim Spain) was religiously tolerant, culturally rich, and economically robust. Carolingian and post- Carolingian Europe was economically retarded and culturally impoverished. By the beginning of the 12th century, a Christian reconquest overwhelmed the Muslim Andalusia. Nevertheless, an Indian summer of interfaith collaboration of Christian, Muslim, and Jew persisted.

The group left at 2:30am on Friday morning and arrived in Istanbul about 6:30am. After a short bus ride to our hotel and a quick breakfast, we were off to explore the historic neighborhood of Sultanahmet. Home to the Aya Sofya (commonly spelled Hagia Sophia in English), the Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace, this area features an amazing collection of history and is a living testament to the intersection of Christian and Islamic cultures.

In classic fashion, I managed to forget the memory card to my camera, so I had to rely solely on my new iPhone 4 to capture the experience. All-in-all, I think it did a pretty good job. The new HDR feature helped make up for the cloudy weather and exposed more of the detail that would have been lost otherwise.

After a whirlwind tour on Friday, we managed to squeeze in a few more things on Saturday morning and afternoon including the Yedikule (Fortress of Seven Towers), the Cisterns, Museum a Turkish and Islamic Art, and a shopping trip at the Egyptian Bazar (aka the Spice Market).

By 5:00pm on Saturday, we were headed back to the airport to catch our return flight back to Abu Dhabi.

  • Seagulls Near Our Hotel
  • Old Istanbul from the Room of Our Hotel
  • Looking Up at the Blue Mosque
  • The Blue Mosque
  • Colorful Restaurant
  • Base of Obelisk at the Hippodrome
  • Obelisk at Hippodrome
  • Interior Courtyard of the Blue Mosque
  • Another View of the Blue Mosque
  • Inside the Blue Mosque
  • Inside the Blue Mosque
  • Local Istanbul Kittens
  • The Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia)
  • Overlooking the Aya Sofya
  • Overlooking the Aya Sofya
  • Mosaic at the Aya Sofya
  • Floating Dome of the Aya Sofya
  • Interior of Aya Sofya
  • Interior of Aya Sofya
  • Looking Back at the Blue Mosque
  • Harem at Topkapi Palace
  • Harem at Topkapi Palace
  • Harem at Topkapi Palace
  • Harem at Topkapi Palace
  • Harem at Topkapi Palace
  • Harem at Topkapi Palace
  • Outer Courtyard at the Harem
  • Harem at Topkapi Palace
  • Yedikule: The Fortress of Seven Towers
  • Yedikule: The Fortress of Seven Towers
  • Yedikule: The Fortress of Seven Towers
  • Yedikule: The Fortress of Seven Towers
  • Istanbul Cisterns
  • Istanbul Cisterns
  • Aya Sofya at Night

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