Friday, June 15, 2012

Last day in Istanbul - Kariye Muzesi

One attraction of Istanbul that I hadn't managed to see previously & was apparently worth visiting was Kariye Muzesi (Chora Museum).  In rather the opposite direction to the main attractions, I vaguely followed my nose walking west & after half an hour or so picked up the tourist signs.  Up sprung the usual shops selling the usual guff to tourists, but they as usual were of no consequence to the fantastic building next door.  With an unusual lack of symmetry, this building is supposedly one of the best-looking examples of a Byzantine church left.  Like Hagia Sophia, this church was converted to a mosque and later a museum.

However, much of the Christian art remain & is most spectacular - in the form of mosiacs & frescos.  The mosiacs really are the highlight though - such vivid colouring & fine detail.  The audioguide is well above average & did a great job of explaining so many different scenes from Mary & Christ's lives. Once a coach-load or two had passed through, it was nice enjoying the intimacy of a building much smaller than most of the other big sights in the city.

Much of the rest of the day was spent walking randomly around town towards the Golden Horn, stopping to read when I found an appropriate shady bench or patch of grass to lie (nap) on. More excellent seafood harbourside before walking back up the hill home - did get the best & cheapest Turkish delight (baklava) I've ever had (7 lira/kg! - that's less than three quid), that was a hit back in England.

So that's my week in Turkey - what a great place, I was continually surprised and fascinated. A strange mix of first world and third world, not to mention being on two continent - those factors may or may not be related. Another five o'clock start for the flight back to London, I'm still getting over that facet of the vacation.

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