Walk • Trek • Travel
A photographic record and journal of our walking, trekking and travelling adventures.
Istanbul Sultanahmet Old City
Istanbul Sultanahmet Old City

Friday 21 January 2022

Our plan for today was to explore the Sultanahmet area and visit the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque. We also wanted to buy some postcards and find a post office.
The hotel was only a short walk away from the large square where the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque are located, so it didn’t take long to get there. It was cold, cloudy and looked like it would soon rain.
Constructed in 537 as the patriarchal cathedral of the imperial capital of Constantinople, the Hagia Sophia was the largest cathedral in the world and the largest enclosed space in the world for almost one thousand years.
When Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Empire in 1453, it was converted to a mosque and, in 1935, a museum.
Controversially, in 2020, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ordered the reclassification of Hagia Sophia as a mosque. It remains open to the public but closes for the daily prayers.
Today was Friday, and we had just enough time to visit the Hagia Sofia before afternoon prayers.
The Hagia Sofia is a fantastic building with a tremendous history and is a must-see site for visitors to Istanbul.
Alternatively, several interesting documentaries are available on YouTube, and you can watch them for free.
We wandered off to find lunch and returned to the square when afternoon prayers had ended. By now, the rain had started to fall.
Directly opposite the Hagia Sofia is the Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Mosque)
Built between 1609 and 1616 by Sultan Ahmed I, it is famed for its twenty thousand unique had painted tiles, each with a blue tulip design and two hundred stained glass windows.
Sadly, very little of the inside was visible today due to ongoing renovations. Susan and I are both lucky to have been able to see the Blue Mosque in all of its splendour on previous trips to Istanbul.
As we exited the Blue Mosque, we faced a deluge of rain and quickly headed to one of the back streets to find somewhere for a coffee. We found postcards and great coffee at the Henna Hotel, but the rain did not stop, no matter how long we lingered. Eventually, we had to leave our sanctuary and head back towards our hotel.
That evening, as we went out looking for somewhere, anywhere, that would serve vegetarian food, it started to snow.
Obelisk of Theodosius taken from Karnak by Constantius II
Mausoleum of Sultan Ahmet
The Hagia Sofia - Almost 1500 years old!
Inside the Hagia Sofia - fantastic!
The Blue Mosque before the rain
Great place to hide from the rain and write our postcards
Renovations inside the Blue Mosque hide the amazing interior
A glimpse of what we were missing inside the Blue Mosque
Are you tired of being stuck in the office? Bored of being chained to a desk? Counting down the days until retirement?
Me too!!