Day 3: The Prophet’s Manuscripts

The plan was to do a lot more yesterday, but that didn’t seem to happen. I’m relaxing a little too much, but it’s all good. I ended up waking up at 10:30 and missing breakfast. Perhaps I shouldn’t have stayed out so late at Taksim, and blogging isn’t as easy as I thought it was.

I headed out to Aya Sofia first. It costs a whopping 10 liras to get into the church turned masjid turned museum. It’s also known as Haga Sofiya or St. Sofiya. There is no adhan and no salat, people just wander in and out with the renovators and the students. It’s a real pretty place, with mosaics of Jesus (peace be upon him), depictions of saints from Christianity, beautiful arabic calligraphy and more. The Christian mosaics are actually being uncovered because they were painted over when the Muslims conquered the area. The entire ‘museum’ is extraordinary. It took me about 2 hours to see the entire thing and that was walking a little briskly and taking a ton of pictures. Seeing history being uncovered by the Turks is interesting and weird at the same time. It’s interesting, because you get to see history before your eyes, and the art is very beautiful, and it’s weird because hundreds of people died to cover all that and bring peace to the land. Anyhow… enjoy the pictures.

INSERT CHERRY JUICE PICTURE HERE En route, you pass several food vendors and CHERRY JUICE vendors! They’re dressed up all ‘ancient’, and the juice tasted pretty good.

Cherry juice man

Sesame guy

Me next to aya sofiya and foutain.

Tombs laying by the entrance. This is what the important people used to be put in. They weren’t buried in the ground.

Guess!

Inside was decorated with the names of Ahl-ul-bayt…

Some ceiling.. pure gold.

More gold ceilings.

Image depicting maryam and her son above the mimbar of the masjid.

The Muslism of the time tried to paint over. But they coudln’t paint over the crosses properly and overtime because of weather they crosses came out.

Just looked cool. Don’t know waht it is.

This is upstairs.

On the left is emperor justinion presenting aya sofiya to Maryam and on the left is someone else presenting something else. I dont remember. I think it’s jerusalem and that’s king richard lionheart.

The main dome of the masjid.

Restoration work… the gray part is paint that was put on by Muslims. It’s being removed now.

After I ate, I returned to the hotel, rested a bit and then headed out to Topkapi Palace. This was the residential palace and the seat of power for most of the sultans. It’s ridiciouls and size and filled with an incredible amount of unnecessary welath. They had 3,000 square feet dedicated JUST to the kitchen itself with hundreds of cooks and helpers there on a daily basis just to provide meals to the people inside the palace. The sultan himself had 10 cooks to prepare his sweets and appetizers.

NOTE TO ALL: The palace has the largest collection of Chinese porcelain outside of China. Over 12,000 pieces.

They wouldn’t allow anyone to take pictures which gave me more time to look around and really read every informational card, and eavesdrop on English guides. For the Muslims who are reading this, the Turks claim to have the sword of Uthman bin Affan at the palace. He was the third Caliph of the Muslim empire and one of the closest companions to the Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him).

Now, I don’t know about others who saw the sword, but I just couldn’t believe it’s his. Uthman was known to be very wealthy, but he was also known to be very down to earth and live very frugally all the while giving his money away to charity and actually spending his own money in the affairs of the state. This sword was encrusted with pure gold, and had god’s name written everywhere on it. Doesn’t fit the profile of any companion, and definitely not that of the 3rd Caliph.

In addition to claiming they had the sword of Uthman, they claim to have the skull of St. John the Baptist, all the swords of the first five caliphs, AND Khalid bin Waleed’s sword. Khalid bin Waleed’s sword (supposedly) was covered encased with a beautiful red velvet sheathe encrusted with jewels. Now anyone knows at least ONE of the storys of Khalid KNOWS that is not his sword. No way at all.

The PRIZE room out of the entire palace which I really came to see was where the Prophet Mohammed’s old stuff was at. A lot of the stuff just doesn’t make sense, particularly the items covered in jewels. We know he was so poor, he slept on a mat which gave him indentations on his back, so a jewel encrusted case and a chest of jewelry seem extremely doubtful.

Anyhow, I couldn’t resist. I had to take pictures and I nearly got kicked out of there. They had on display, a quran, his cloak, a bow with a quiver of arrows, his seal, and other items. The HIGHLIGHT of the room was the preserved letter sent by the Prophet himself to the king of the Coptics at that time inviting them to Islam and showing their similairites. It was VERY nice.

Check out the blurry pictures below. This room was guarded with at least 10 guards each looking very closely at everyone. I had to maneuver my camera to grab a shot and I could feel the eyes of another tourist looking at me. Lucky for me, he told on me, and I could see the guards moving towards me, which meant I had to move out quick… and I did.

Some of porcelain collection

Silverware collection

Emissary chambers… this is where the ambassadors would come and hang out.

This is where the students.. who were becoming governors and generals would study. This is their library. EXTREMELY extravagant. The lady security guard was nic with me.. so she opened up the thing so i can sit down and take a picture.

One of the garments of the sultans. The gold embroidery.. that’s all gold.

View of Marmara sea from palace.

I dont know how the picture came upside down.. but second from the top is the Prophet’s bow.

View of Blue Mosque at night on way home. So pretty.

Then I went back to hotel… slept.. and went out to taksim square again. I know I said I woudln’t go.. but I wanted to do something adn the turkish burgers are only available there. SO GOOD. One the way to Taksim square I stopped at a sweets shop. Best baklava so far.. and I had some sort of chocolate/apricot/breaded/something else dessert, baklava and turkish delights (jelly snacks). It was really good. ALL for 4 liras. AMAZING price. So when I got to Taksim square all i did was goto starbucks… have some burgers… have MORE chestnuts.. and then came home and now im writing. It wasn’t packed.. and i left in time for the train. Took some pictures along the way.

The dessert.

Me and some statue at a restraunt by the hotel. The first night i had told the guy id come back after seeing how expensive he was. Told him I had to go pray.. which was the truth.. i hadn’t prayed. They haggled me out the door.. told me i should eat first then pray.. any thing in the book to try to get me to stay. Tonight i passed by the restraunt when it was closed and took a picture with this thing… then i heard the restraunt guy in the background. Me and the guy who took the picture for me along with his wife RAN.

Me and some hot dog figure at taksim square.

Tomorrow: Grand Bazaar, Islamic Museum, the Blue Mosque tour and off to the ancient city of Troy.

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