So yesterday we did the top rated tourist things and it was busy. Surprisingly busy for this time of the year but then again, it seems to be one of the Christmas / New Year hotspots for Europeans as its just so very close.
Today, we decided we wanted to see a few things slightly off the tourist track and my first choice was the 7 Towers Dungeon. In all honesty I was expecting a dungeon that was reminiscent of the Ottoman history. I was expecting torture, cells and something very dark. Instead what we got was a fortress built on the Byzantine land wall by Mehemed II (“The Conqueror”) after the city fell to the Ottomans in 1453. These land walls protected Constantinople for over a thousand years however they are now in major disrepair. There doesn’t seem to be much work done to look after or restore this ruin and safety does not seem to be a priority with no barricades or railings for the ramparts or even the stairs. What was pretty spectacular was the view out of these walls, being able to view both the Sea of Marmera and the long line of boats waiting to cross the Bosporus was well worth the trip.
After that its onto a lovely little church famous for its mosaic artwork that covers not just the ceiling but also the walls, columns and even the floor. The mosaics are so small and so detailed it is apparently one of the best examples of this type of religious art we will see in this part of the world. It was small, almost humble but then so so pretty, the fascinating thing is, at one point when the country was in the hands of the Muslims they plastered over all the beautiful faces as their religion does not allow for anyones image to be painted in church.
A spot of apple tea at the top of an amazing lookout … ah yes apple tea, its almost sweet, almost sour, very very hot and served in cute little glass cups. Ben and I are personally in LOVE with this little drink and are making it our mission to find all the little apple tea shops all over town.
Finally the Dolmabachce Palace, a large Rococo style building it was the administrative hub for the Ottoman empire from 1843 to 1856. This building built under 200 years ago cost the equivalent of $1,481,425,175 in todays value. Even better Fourteen tonnes of gold in the form of gold leaf were used to gild the ceilings. It was an interesting building, it didn’t really make a lot of sense from a practical point of view, huge rooms, not a lot of practicality and it didn’t really flow at all but the main attraction was the ginormous ballroom that we got to see towards the end of the tour. At first we thought it may have been a church but no … it a is large ballroom / reception room. It was huge, it was extravagant and it was over the top. So the palace was a fascinating insight into how the Turkish Ottomans tried to emulate the other European monarchy’s. The only thing is, they didn’t quite get it right.
Oh yes, one final thing I really must comment on, the food in Turkey is totally, completely amazing. Every single thing we have eaten has been heaven. Pureed eggplant – yum. Vegetable and meat casserole … even better. Everything is amazing and I will be very sad to leave this amazing food.