Basilica Cistern – Istanbul

This attraction is not to be missed. It is very near to Hagia Sophia. Took me a while to figure out this place, as I initially went around this very place in search of a big Church. I went with the term ‘Basilica’ and it’s certainly not my fault. Right?. It was around 5:50 in the evening, no crowd as the place closes at 6 and I have my map in hand and I am standing at the exact point where the map directed me . I am scratching my head wondering “Where the hell did the church vanish?” Finally I go the other side of the building and to my surprise I realize “This ain’t no Church, the entrance looks like a little house.” I walk in and since I was the last man there with a messy hair and puzzled look, they let me in.

As we walk down the stairs, the place is totally dark and slippery (You gotta watch your step or you might reach the bottom very soon than expected). With the lights and the hundreds of columns, this place looks WOW.

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Hagia Sophia (Church of Holy Wisdom) – Istanbul

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Hagia Sophia

Aya Sofya (Turkish) – Church of holy Wisdom is a former Greek orthodox Church, later a Mosque and now a Museum. This is acknowledged as one of the greatest buildings in history. This is a fascinating  place and there’s lot to see. I nearly spend half a day there, I believe anything you see there has a story to tell.

This church was built on the first hill of the 7 hills in Istanbul. Hagia Sophia has witnessed a lot of events. The First church was burnt down which no longer stands today and Second church was burnt to the ground during the Nika revolt and its believed to be one of the bloodiest revolts and the Third church (the present one) has been hit by earthquakes and in 1453 Constantinople was taken by the Ottomans and the church was turned into a Mosque. The Ottomans didn’t change the interior nor the name, they just white washed the mosaics. So, literally they protected the Hagia Sophia.

We see an interesting thing when we look at the Mihrab we see the mosaic of Mother Mary holding Jesus on her lap is marvelous and the guardian angels Gabriel and Michael on either side of the upper gallery.

Mother Mary and Jesus

Mother Mary and Jesus

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Turkey, Istanbul – Day 1

‘East meets West’ – the introduction of Istanbul begins with a cup of Turkish coffee. Incredible people, jaw dropping architecture. This was a life time unforgettable experience.

Turkish Airlines

Turkish Airlines

With a bag on my back and a crazy idea of travelling, I realize this is what I love doing the most. Life is full of surprises, I never even in my wildest dream imagined I will backpack Turkey one day. With Turkey pinned on my map and Istanbul as my first destination I have no idea where to begin, the city is amazing. They claim this is the city of magic and history. Right from the very start, I realize the Turkish people are incredibly friendly.

Upon my arrival at Istanbul Atatürk Airport, the feeling of freedom and happiness had no limits. A couple of Turkish people to my surprise asked me about Bollywood and Amitabh Bachchan and this came as a surprise to me. This is certainly a backpackers paradise. I see a lot of people backpacking and you realize the people you meet are walking the same path as you with a map in hand and the destinations pinned.

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