The Topkapi Palace is a very beautiful place, with lavish grounds on a high hill overlooking the Bosphorus Strait. It consists of many buildings and plentiful grounds, and it was packed with tourists on the day of our visit. This is certainly worth a return visit when the crowds are lighter.
The morning began in the Grand Bazaar where we walked through the alleys as the bazaar was opening for the day. Low crowds made photography easy, as did the ability to work at ISO 800.
Next we headed to the area of the Topkapi Palace, where I photographed the architecture, the seascape and some people.
We had lunch at Topkapi, and the food continues to be excellent, with many courses served along with extra spices for customizing your seasonings.
After lunch we had a quite magical experience in the Sokullu Mehmet Pasa Mosque. This is a small, quiet mosque near the bustling Topkapi palace, and it was cool inside against the warm air, while sunlight and air from the sea filtered through the open windows. To our surprise, the Imam of the mosque sang a beautiful prayer blessing for us – it was a moving experience.
After a visit to the Islamic Art Museum to see some incredible ancient Korans, carpets and other antiquities, we drove to the modern part of town and had dinner at the Armagan shop, which specializes in preserving Turkish traditions of hand-made objects. At the special reception held for our group, I also met Arif Asci, one of Turkey’s best-known photographers (www.arifasci.com). He has invited me to his studio, and I hope to visit him later this week. Later I had an interesting conversation with Sumiyo Okumura, a Japanese Art Historian living in Istanbul. The reception was inviting, with a harpist, plenty of food and new Turkish friends to meet.