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Basilica Cistern and Spice Bazaar
Sunday, June 23
With our tour of the Hagia Sophia complete, we headed out to view a series of smaller, yet no less interesting attractions. We first visited an ancient subterranean Roman cistern - the so-called Basilica Cistern. The cistern is located just a few hundred feet from the Hagia Sofia, and was one of many water reservoirs built by the emperor Justinian in the 6th Century A.D.

We descended down into the cistern via a non-descript entrance at street level on one of Old Istanbul's busy streets. Cool and dark, the interior of the cistern was impressive. Stylishly lit from below by reddish lights - a huge grid of roman columns stretched away into the darkness. Capable of holding 100,000 tons of water, today only a few feet of water is kept at the bottom of the cistern, allowing a raised boardwalk to be placed to allow visitors to tour the cavernous area. Very interesting!
Busy Istanbul Street
Basilica Cistern
Medusa head pillar
courtesy JInnes
Spooky light
Lit columns
Eminönü Kaymakamlığı entrance
After the cistern, we continued on, descending north-westward towards one of Istanbul's more famous bazaars - the Spice Bazaar.
courtesy JInnes
Istanbul Shops
Bad kitty
Turkish Post Office
The six of us agreed to split up and explore the Bazaar on own for the next hour or so, and we decided on a specific meet-up time and location.

This was our first experience with a "real" bazaar, and it was a busy, bustling place, full of noise and color. We walked down its full length, shoulder-to-shoulder with other shoppers. Even though it was very crowded, it was also pretty orderly and not at all intimidating. Jenn bought some orange tea and some other bag of stuff I couldn't identify.
Turkish High-rise
Approaching Spice Bazaar
Spice Bazaar
Spice Bazaar
Busy Bazaar
Busy Bazaar
Fresh Spice
Jenn's Spice Purchase
The Spice Bazaar, although much bigger than the little Arasta Bazaar near our hotel, was still basically only a long, large L-shaped corridor. We made one full pass through it, then decided to take a little break in the busy square on the opposite end. Situated in a strategic spot near a major road and the Galata bridge (connecting Old Istanbul with New Istanbul over the Golden Horn), the square was thick with people. Sitting very prominently at one end of the square was a beautiful, big mosque.
Not just spices
Spice Bazaar North Entrance
Towards Galata Tower
A little bit of closer examination revealed it to be the Yeni Cami mosque, or New Mosque. "New" is a relative term here - the mosque was built over many decades from 1597 through to the mid 1600s. "New" relative to some of the original mosques after 1453, I suppose.

We wandered up as far as the mosque's main entrance, but did not enter the main courtyard beyond. It looked beautiful, exotic, and interesting. We hadn't yet visited the interior of any mosques yet, and we were still unsure as to the proper, respectful protocol, so we didn't go in. Tomorrow we would be visiting several mosques, in any case, so interior visiting could wait until then.
New Mosque
Entrance, New Mosque
New Mosque
Impressive Clinging
More spice purchasing
Outdoor Stalls
After one more pass through the Spice Bazaar, we met up with the four others, then walked the approximately 1 kilometre back to the hotel.
Turkish Flags for sale
After a bit of freshening up, we decided to try another of Sim's recommended restaurants - the Khorasani Grill House. This one focused a bit more on southern Turkish cuisine (think Kurdish, I guess), and it was great - although I didn't find the choices to be vastly different from the previous night's restaurant. The in-restaurant open-air grill they had going on was pretty neat. Overall I'd rate this place a little lower than the Albura Kathisma cafe from our first night, but it was still solid.
Khorasani Grill House
Upstairs seating
Open Charcoal-fired Grill
After our meal, we wandered lazily back through the streets of Old Istanbul, stopping en-route for a bit of middle-eastern dessert at a baclava shop. We were told by the jovial shopkeepers that their special "men's enhancer" varieties of baclava were very effective. I stuck to the plain stuff myself.
courtesy JInnes
The great selection
Log house of Baklava
Ten more minutes (including a scenic walk past the night-lit Blue Mosque) brought us back to our hotel, and then end of a very full sight-seeing day.
Blue Mosque at night
Minarets of Blue Mosque
Interactive trackmap with photo points - Istanbul Walks, Day 1 - click map to view
Day 1 Morning - Walk Data
Start Time: 8:35AM
End Time: 12:44PM
Duration: 4h8m
Distance: 4.0 km (2.48 mi)
Average Speed: 1.0 km/hr (0.6 mph)
Start Elevation: 97ft (30m) *
Max Elevation: 186ft (57m) *
Min Elevation: 67ft (21m) *
End Elevation: 74ft (22m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain: 67ft (20m) *
Total Elevation Loss: 115ft (35m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Elevation Graph
Day 1 Afternoon - Walk Data
Start Time: 1:45PM
End Time: 6:35PM
Duration: 4h50m
Distance: 5.51 km (3.43 mi)
Average Speed: 1.1 km/hr (0.7 mph)
Start Elevation: 194ft (59m) *
Max Elevation: 242ft (74m) *
Min Elevation: 6ft (2m) *
End Elevation: 107ft (33m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain: 323ft (98m) *
Total Elevation Loss: 397ft (121m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Elevation Graph
Day 1 Evening - Walk Data
Start Time: 8:15PM
End Time: 10:41PM
Duration: 2h25m
Distance: 1.13 km (0.7 mi)
Average Speed: 0.5 km/hr (0.3 mph)
Start Elevation: 106ft (32m) *
Max Elevation: 204ft (62m) *
Min Elevation: 104ft (32m) *
End Elevation: 204ft (62m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain: 70ft (21m) *
Total Elevation Loss: 4ft (1m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Elevation Graph
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[ Return to "European Hopscotch" Home page | Introduction | Switzerland | Oberalpstock I | Oberalpstock II | Alpenbreak | Vorderalp | Rheinwaldhorn I | Rheinwaldhorn II | Return to Germany | Daniel's Birthday | Turkey | Topkapi Palace | Hagia Sophia | Spice Bazaar | Blue Mosque | Grand Bazaar | Süleymaniye Mosque | Galata Tower | Farewell to Turkey | Turkey to Italy | Italy | "Tour" Day | Venice | Ferrata for Sophie | Ferrata for Luke | Epilogue | GPS Data ]

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