Friday, October 19, 2007

Istanbul, Turkey

The first stop of our cruise was in Istanbul, Turkey. What a fascinating city it is!!!! Call me clueless, but I had no idea that part of Turkey was in Europe and part was in Asia. Istanbul happens to be on the Europe side. The first place we visited was the Topkapi Palace. It was the home to the Sultans of Turkey. The palace is beautiful especially with the intricate tile and designs on the inside of the buildings and the huge courtyards on the outside. It even houses (supposedly) the arm of John the Baptist (which we saw) and the staff of Moses. The first picture shows the outside of the palace.

The most famous and well-known mosque in Istanbul is the Blue Mosque which is pictured behind our family in the second picture. (George Lucas liked it so much he used it in one of his Star Wars films which Cameron and Caleb thought was sooooo cool!) The Blue Mosque was so crowded from tourists that our tour guide took us to a different mosque so that we could go inside and see what it was like. The bottom picture shows us with our guide in the mosque. We had to remove our shoes to go in. Before the people are allowed to enter and pray they must all wash themselves before entering. The muslims pray 5 times a day. If they pray at the mosque then it's "better" (according to our guide). They don't have to pray at the mosques, though. There are mosques everywhere, every few blocks. We were able to witness when they made the call for prayers from the minarets. All of this was so interesting in light of all that is going on in the world today.

The picture with the round blue circle is a symbol you see all over Turkey. It is something that is displayed everywhere to ward off the "evil eyes".

Posted by Picasa