The communication did not always go smoothly but everything did get pulled together at the end and I was confident that I had made the right choice and it was good to finally put a face to the name.
Our first stop this morning was the Spice Market. What an amazing place with vividly colored spices displayed alongside jewel-like lokum (Turkish delight). We ran into Abdil and his group of 4 tourist there.
This is an Ottoman-era marketplace, together with spices, stalls selling caviar, dried herbs, nuts and dried fruits.
The market was constructed in the 1660s as part of the New Mosque; rent from the shops supported the upkeep of the mosque as well as its charitable activities.
The next stop was the Basilica Cisterns, this subterranean structure was commissioned by Emperor Justinian and built in 532. Another amazing feat of Roman Engineering.
Next stop, the 7-tower dungeons. Another piece of interesting history, architecture and of course engineering.
Ozkan then took us to a gorgeous view point overlooking the Golden Horn.
We stopped to have Turkish Tea at Pierre Lotif. I quite like Turkish Tea, it was mild and fragrant.
It was almost lunchtime so we proceeded on to daruzziyafe restaurant, which is steeped in history. Darüzziyafe is the dining hall located within the Süleymaniye Social Complex and established by Sultan Suleyman.
Darüzziyafe was first used as an imaret house, one of a few names used to identify Ottoman soup kitchens built throughout the Ottoman Empire from the 14th to the 19th century. After 1913, the building became a Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum, but was later transformed into a restaurant in 1992 in Istanbul after restorations were made.
Serving up historical Ottoman dishes like mengen soup made from milk and almonds, abant kebab and keşkül, a milk pudding made with coconut, the restaurant integrates a bit of cultural history with each flavorful bite. Tülüce said they are planning to offer a different menu every day.
Abdil and his guests were at an adjoining table as well.
After a delicious lunch we went to the Visit Sulemaniye Mosque. This is both Ozkan and Abdul's favorite and within a few minutes it was easy to see why that is.
This mosque was built on the order of Sultan Süleyman (Süleyman the Magnificent), who was fortunate to be able to draw on the talents of the architectural genius of Mimar Sinan. The construction work began in 1550 and the mosque was finished in 1558.
The Süleymaniye was ravaged by a fire in 1660 and was restored by Sultan Mehmed IV. Part of the dome collapsed again during the earthquake of 1766. Subsequent repairs damaged what was left of the original decoration of Sinan (recent cleaning has shown that Sinan experimented first with blue, before turning red the dominant color of the dome).
The headless body of the architect Sinan is buried outside but close to the complex.
Suitably impressed with The Sulemaniye we proceeded on to our last stop for the day, The Hagia Sofia or Aya Sofia as it is called in Turkish.
From the date of its construction in 537 until 1453, it served as an Eastern Orthodox cathedral and seat of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, except between 1204 and 1261, when it was converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral under the Latin Empire. The building was a mosque from 29 May 1453 until 1931. It was then secularized and opened as a museum on 1 February 1935.
The advantage of it now being a museum was that there weren't any parts that were off limits to the tourists. There is talk about designating it as a place of worship again for both Christians and Moslems.
It is beautiful inside and well preserved due to the Moslems cementing over the Christian symbols, instead of destroying them.
What a great day of sight seeing, both Ozkan and Abdil are great guides even they have different delivery style and personality.they are both extremely knowledgeable and fun to be with.
Ozkan brought us back to the hotel and we said our byes since tomorrow it would be Abdil.
Rested up and went to dinner at Buy Pass, one of the restaurants Abdil had recommended. The food was rather plain and the service lukewarm. It was located right next to a Hilton where westerners stay so maybe that's why.
Still a great day and went to bed wondering what tomorrow will bring.