Friday, February 28, 2014

Little Hagia Sophia - Küçük Ayasofya Camii

Today's photo trek is going to take us to Littie Hagia Sophia (Turkish: Küçük Ayasofya Camii).  The building stands in Istanbul, in the district of Fatih and in the neighborhood of Kumkapı, at a short distance from the Marmara Sea, near the ruins of the Great Palace and to the south of the Hippodrome. It is now separated from the sea by the Sirkeci-Halkalı suburban railway line and the coastal road, Kennedy Avenue.
To get there you can take a tramway to Sultanahmet- Blue Mosque and then walk south of the Hippodrome towards the sea.  You will find your way to there.
Küçük Ayasofya Camii in winter.
Little Hagia Sophia, formerly the Church of the Saints Sergius and Bacchus (Greek: Eκκλησία τῶν Άγίων Σεργίου καί Βάκχου ὲν τοῖς Ὸρμίσδου), is a former Eastern Orthodox church dedicated to Saints Sergius and Bacchus in Constantinople, converted into a mosque during the Ottoman Empire.

Main entrance door.

This Byzantine building with a central dome plan was erected in the sixth century by Justinian, likely was a model for Hagia Sophia (St. Sophia), and is one of the most important early Byzantine buildings in Istanbul. It was recognized at the time as an adornment to the entire city, and a modern historian of the East Roman Empire has written that the church, "by the originality of its architecture and the sumptuousness of its carved decoration, ranks in Constantinople second only to St. Sophia itself".


 Two storey colonnade.
Inside the edifice there is a beautiful two-storey colonnade which runs along the north, west and south sides, and bears an elegant inscription in twelve Greek hexameters dedicated to the Emperor Justinian, his wife, Theodora, and Saint Sergius, the patron-saint of the soldiers of the Roman army. For some unknown reason, Saint Bacchus is not mentioned.

Hexameter Dome.

 The columns are alternately of verd antique and red Synnada marble; the lower storey has 16, while the upper has 18. Many of the column capitals still bear the monograms of Justinian and Theodora.

The Apse of the former Church with the Mihrab. The Minbar is seen in the foreground.

Column detail and northern part of the dome.


Detail columns.

Monograms of Justinian.
Window facing the Railrad and the Marmaray sea.
View of the main entrance hall from the stairs.

Entrance step way.

The exterior masonry of the structure adopts the usual technique of that period in Constantinople, which uses bricks sunk in thick beds of mortar. The walls are reinforced by chains made of small stone blocks.

The building, the central plan of which was consciously repeated in the basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna and served as a model for the famous Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan in the construction of the Rüstem Pasha Mosque, has the shape of an octagon inscribed in an irregular quadrilateral. It is surmounted by a beautiful umbrella dome in sixteen compartments with eight flat sections alternating with eight concave ones, standing on eight polygonal pillars.

The narthex lies on the west side, opposed to an antechoir. Many effects in the building were later used in Hagia Sophia: the exedrae expand the central nave on diagonal axes, colorful columns screen the ambulatories from the nave, and light and shadow contrast deeply on the sculpture of capitals and entablature.

North of the edifice there is a small Muslim cemetery with the türbe of Hüseyin Ağa, the founder of the mosque.
In front of the building there is a portico (which replaced the atrium) and a court (both added during the Ottoman period), with a small garden, a fountain for the ablutions and several small shops.

Portico door to the ablution fountain.
Patio with littie book stores.
 Wall sorrownding Little Hagia Sophia.

Walking by the neighborhood of Kunkapı you can find quite interesting buildings. I have to say I had as much fun outside than inside the Küçük Ayasofya.  I thought to share with you some of my favorite shots during the walking. 

İn front of the entrance to Littie Hagia Sophia.

The beauty in chaos.



Tearing apart.

Facing Küçük Ayasofya.

Old Wooden houses.

Soreya Reyes

Ps. If you are interested in a photo guide trek in Istanbul inbox for more info:

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Mihrimah Sultan Camii - Üsküdar

Today's photo trek is going to take us to another one of Mimar Sinan's Mosques: the Mihrimah Sultan Camii.  This mosque is located in the district of Üsküdar at the Asian side of İstanbul.     This mosque has been recently restore and re-open to the public.  İt can be easily reach from the European side of İstanbul by taking the ferry to Üsküdar.  The Mosque is in front of the ferry station.  Mihr-î-Mah means Sun and Moon.
View of Mihrimah Sultan Camii from the hill at the back of the mosque.

The Mihrimah Sultan Mosque is one of Üsküdar's best-known landmarks and takes its nicknames from the ferry landing near which it stands. It is the first of two mosques built by Mihrimah Sultana, daughter of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent and wife of Grand Vizier Rüstem Pasha. It was designed by Mimar Sinan (the great Architect in the Ottoman Empire) and built between 1546 and 1548.
Entrance door.
The historical complex was located against the port side of Uskudar in 1548. It was built by Sinan in the same period with the Şehzade Mosque (Prince Mosque). It contained a mosque, a school for children, a fountain, a medresse consisting of sixteen rooms, a guesthouse of eight rooms, a stable, a larder, a store house and a caravanserai. It now consists of five sections: mosque, madrasah (theological school attached to a mosque), the tomb of Sinaneddin Yusuf Paşa and the tomb of İbrahim Ethem Paşa.




  Entrance door.
It is a massive structure on a raised platform and already shows several hallmarks of Sinan's mature style: a spacious, high-vaulted basement, slender minarets,  a single-domed baldacchino flanked by three semi-domes ending in three exedrae  and a broad double portico.  
Mihrab and marble pulpit.

Main Columns.

The diameter of the dome of the mosque is 10 m. There are two huge minarets having one balcony (sherefe) each. The decorative niche (mihrab) and the marble pulpit (mimber) reflect the formats of the Classical Ottoman Architecture. It is one of the few premier structures preserving the traces of the past on the Anatolian side of Istanbul.



Main lamp.
Window facing cemetery.

View of Mihrab from the upper level balcony.

Mihrab iluminated by the lamps.
Stairs to the balcony.
Window facing the patio.



While the structure offers a distinct aesthetic view with a porch that covers the last prayer section, there is a twenty-cornered fountain located on the seaward side of the mosque. The other sections of the mosque could not be reached until today.
Two Minarets.
The Madrasah (religious school) is composed of 16 rooms that is being used as a health clinic today, the tomb of the two sons of Mihrimah Sultan, the tomb of the Osman Aga, son of Rustem Pasa-Grand (Grand Viziers of the Ottoman Empire), and the tomb of Sinan Pasa, Admirals of the Navy (Kaptan-ı Derya) are the structures that have stood until today. The other building in the complex is a Quranic primary school (Sıbyan Mektebi), which consisted of a domed porch and classroom. The tabhane (hostel) disappeared during the fire in 1772 and the inn and kitchen have also been completely cleared away.
Porch (last prayer section).

Oblation Fountain.


Two Minarets.

Connection between the mosque and the Madrasah.

Oblation Fountain.

 The tomb of the Osman Aga, son of Rustem Pasa-Grand.

Cemetiri back at the back of the Mosque.


Back street door.
Back street with restaurants and caffee shops.

Stairs back street Mosque.  The neighborhood.

I found a link of how the mosque look before its restoration and I though to share it with you since the change is amaizing:
The first time I saw a mosque it was in Paris, it was a turistic visit and I was so intrigüe by the way the mosque was structure and ornamented.  İt was interesting for me as a Christian trying to understand the rituals and the beliefs but I never though I would live in a Muslim country. Things have change so much since then and here I am learning to take pictures of all this beautiful places I never thought or even imagine I would be in.   I have to admit there is so much beauty on them in spite of the fact that I don't agree with their religion and I can only hope to be fair on my way of sharing them with you.
Thanks for being part of this journey I  hope you enjoy this trek!
Soreya Reyes

Ps. If you are interested in a photo guide trek in Istanbul inbox for more info:

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Galata Tower - Galata Kulesi and sorrowndings

This trek is dedicated to Galata Tower (Galata Kulesi) and its sorrowndings. Although the pictures shown  are not from an only one day trek but a collection of pictures taken over several visits to the district of Beyoğlu.   This trek will take  two hours and you will be able to see part of the Beyoğlu neighborhood,  visit the tower itself  and among all enjoy the views.

Life at Beyoğlu sorrownding Galata Tower.

No matter how many times I look at this tower there is always something about it that catches my attention.  Light according to the day you will find it different and because of it gets even more interesting.  That's why I prefer to show you different visions of the same Galata Tower in different days.  The pictures are taken with the same camera with two different lens and by the same  photographer, me.
View of Galata Tower from ferry to Karaköy.
To get to Galata Tower you can either walk up the hill from Karaköy iskelesi that will take you 10 min. to the top and you would be able to see the different graffiti painted on your way up to the hill. The way is full of stores that sell electronic devices, anthenes and musical instruments. You can also find typical turistic artcraft such as turkish bath clothing and soaps, ceramics, lamps and such.

 Graffiti on your way to the top of Galata hill.

 Graffiti on your way to the top of Galata hill.
Graffiti on your way to the top of Galata hill.
The other way to get to Galata tower is taking the railway that goes thru the tunnel from Karakoy to Pera. The Tünel is a short underground railway line with two stations, connecting the quarters of Karaköy and Beyoğlu. 

The Tünel railway.

You can find the Tünel one block up the Karakoy Iskelesi (ferry station).  This railway will take 2 minutes to get you to the top and from there you will have to turn right on the first street and walk down the hill.  You are not going to be able to see Galata Tower until you are almost in front of it. 

Walking to Galata Tower after taking the railway.
Stores sorrownding Galata Tower.
Walking to Galata Tower after taking the Tünel funicular railway.
The fist time I went up it started to rain and my visit was over in only 15 minutes  just enough to see the 360 degree view of Istanbul and the Golden Horn. No matter how short it was it was worth it. Magnificent view of the city with a grey sky, watching the storm coming up and shadowing the city.

View of Galta Tower from Eminönu. 

The tower

The name Galata is thought to be derived from the Grek word "gala" meaning milk, and commemorates a milk market that once stood on the site. The area immediately around Galata Tower is called Kuledibi, meaning literally "the bottom of the tower".

 Top of Galata Tower a distinctive witch's hat roof.

 İt was the Byzantine Emperor Justinian who erected a tower on this site in 528, but it was the Genoese who started work on the hefty tower that currenly stands here in 1348-49. At that time what was called the Tower of Christ formed part of the walls of what was effectively a separate town facing Constantinople across the Bosphorus.
  Galata Tower.
The nine-story tower is 66.90 meters tall (62.59 m without the ornament on top, 51.65 m at the observation deck), and was the city's tallest structure when it was built. The elevation at ground level is 35 meters above sea-level. The tower has an external diameter of 16.45 meters at the base, an 8.95 meters diameter inside, and walls that are 3.75 meters thick.
Galata Tower at blue hour.

During the reign of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent (1494-1566) the tower served as a prision. Later it accommodated members of the Mehter, the Ottoman military band, while in the second half of the 20th century it was used as a lighthouse.   



The exterior

Entrance to Galata Tower.
Entrance door candelabre.
The bottom of the tower a place to encounter and chat.
The fountain.

The interior

Today the 61-meter tall tower houses a restaurant and nightclub which hosts a Turkish show, as well as provides a vantage point from which visitors can obtain a 360 degree magnificent view of İstanbul and the Bosphorus. There are two operating elevators that carry visitors from the lower level to the upper levels.
Galata's tower Elevators and bronce mural
Windows of the Galata Tower.

The hall to the Z floor.
The restaurant at Galata Tower.
Galata Tower Restaurant.

View of Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque.

Suleymaniye Mosque.

 Windows at the upper level restaurant.
360 Degree View from Galata Tower

 Bosphorus Bridge.
The Bosphorus and Kadiköy (Asia)

Galata Bridge and the New Mosque.

The new metro bridge.

The golden horn.



I can't take my eyes of you
 On the way down you can find interesting grafitty.

Can't stop looking at you.

View of Galata Tower from ferry from Kadiköy to Karaköy.
From the Ferry to Karaköy İskelesi.
A vision of Galata Tower from Uskudar.
Ferry from Kadiköy to Karaköy.
 View of Galata Tower from Ferry Usküdar to Karaköy.


View of Galata Tower from Ferry from Kadikoy to Karaköy.


View of Galata Tower from Ferry from Kadikoy to Karaköy.

View of Galata Tower from Üsküdar İskelesi.

View of Galata Tower from Üsküdar İskelesi.
View of Galta Tower from Eminönu.

View of Galta Tower from Eminönu. 
 I guess I will never have enough pictures of this tower.  I absolutly love it.   I hope is not too overwhelming.  

Please feel free to comment the blog or explain your experience.  Have you ever been at the restaurant inside the tower at night?  Was it good?.  I have the idea that is just touristic  clientele but the views must be amazing at night so I guess is worth it.
Thanks for your attention and I hope you enjoy this trek!
Soreya Reyes.

If you are interested in a photo guide trek in Istanbul inbox for more info: