Istanbul

Messages
1,297
SR-Istan1.jpg
SR-Istan18.jpg
If you will indulge me - I'd like to share pictures from Istanbul for the week. It's one of the most visually impressive places I have been. So good they named it three times - Byzantium, Constantinople and Istanbul. Continuously occupied for - not far off - three thousand years. currently the city and indeed the Turks in general don't have their sorrows to seek but that is moving towards politics - which we don't do here.

Picture 1 - sunset on the Galata bridge. Looking south across the Golden Horn - the mosque on the skyline is the Suleymaniye. The bridge is the very heart of Istanbul to me.

Picture 2 - On the ferry from Eminonu terminal across the straits to Uskudar - one of the great journeys in the world. When you land at the eastern terminal - you could - theoretically - walk to Beijing without getting your feet wet - you have arrived in Asia. Oh - in Uskudar - they make the best yogurt I've ever eaten.

All pictures posted in this thread were taken with rangefinder cameras and film.

cheers - I.

@Floid_Maniac @Helveticum @Number Six
 
OP
Digimonkey
Messages
1,297
Istanbul - day 2 - the Hagia Sophia.

SR-Istan2.jpg

SR-Stan13.jpg

SR-Stan5.jpg

This is one of the most impressive things I have seen in my life. It opened its doors for business on the 27th of December in 537. Commissioned by the emperor Justinian to replace the previous church on the site - burned down in the Nika riots - which were mostly his fault, incidentally. Considered to be the epitome of Byzantine architecture - it was the biggest religious building in the world for a thousand years and changed architecture forever. It was overtaken by Seville cathedral in the 16th century. The name normally translates as the church of 'holy' or 'saintly wisdom.' The building has had four distinct eras in its life - Christian basilica - seat of the Patriarch of the Eastern church - nearly 700 years, a Catholic cathedral after the fourth crusade - a brief six decades, a mosque for nearly 500 years and then as a museum after the founding of the Turkish Republic in !935.

Picture 1 - The minarets were added by Mehmed the Conqueror when he took the city in 1453.

Picture 2 - The discs you can see are from the time of the building being a mosque - they are passages from the Koran in Kufic script. At the bottom left is the mihrab - where the imam would deliver the prayers.

Picture 3 - The dome - architecturally the most impressive thing about the building. Let's remember this was constructed in the 6th century. The space created and the use of light is still staggering. The detail at the top is Muslim - again Kufic script - below are representations of the archangels from the Christian period. I remember writing an essay in which I mentioned the building and citing an account from a traveler that visited in the 7th century. He spoke of the dome seemingly hovering above you - 'it must be anchored to heaven by a chain.' That's still the impression you get.

Amusingly enough - neither of the architects that designed the structure were Christian - or indeed architects. They were Greek mathematicians and all-round philosopher types.

If you have got this far, thank you for reading. I'll come back to this building tomorrow. Yours - I.

@Floid_Maniac @William Dobson
 
Last edited:
Messages
12,211
Istanbul - day 2 - the Hagia Sophia.

View attachment 26831

View attachment 26832

View attachment 26833

This is one of the most impressive things I have seen in my life. It opened its doors for business on the 27 of December in 537. Commissioned by the emperor Justinian to replace the previous church on the site - burned down in the Nika riots - which were mostly his fault, incidentally. Considered to be the epitome of Byzantine architecture - it was the biggest religious building in the world for a thousand years and changed architecture forever. It was overtaken by Seville cathedral in the 16th century. The name normally translates as the church of 'holy' or 'saintly wisdom.' The building has had four distinct eras in its life - Christian basilica - seat of the Patriarch of the Eastern church - nearly 700 years, a Catholic cathedral after the fourth crusade - a brief six decades, a mosque for nearly 500 years and then as a museum after the founding of the Turkish Republic in !935.

Picture 1 - The minarets were added by Mehmed the Conqueror when he took the city in 1453.

Picture 2 - The discs you can see are from the time of the building being a mosque - they are passages from the Koran in Kufic script. At the bottom left is the mihrab - where the imam would deliver the prayers.

Picture 3 - The dome - architecturally the most impressive thing about the building. Let's remember this was constructed in the 6th century. The space created and the use of light is still staggering. The detail at the top is Muslim - again Kufic script - below are representations of the archangels from the Christian period. I remember writing an essay in which I mentioned the building and citing an account from a traveler that visited in the 7th century. He spoke of the dome seemingly hovering above you - 'it must be anchored to heaven by a chain.' That's still the impression you get.

Amusingly enough - neither of the architects that designed the structure were Christian - or indeed architects. They were Greek mathematicians and all-round philosopher types.

If you have got this far, thank you for reading. I'll come back to this building tomorrow. Yours - I.

@Floid_Maniac @William Dobson
With a name of Mehmed the Conquereror I suppose he could put the minarets where he wanted! Great pictures with some history on top for good measure, well done, very interesting indeed .P.
 
Messages
399
Location
Oviedo, Spain
Istanbul - day 2 - the Hagia Sophia.

View attachment 26831

View attachment 26832

View attachment 26833

This is one of the most impressive things I have seen in my life. It opened its doors for business on the 27th of December in 537. Commissioned by the emperor Justinian to replace the previous church on the site - burned down in the Nika riots - which were mostly his fault, incidentally. Considered to be the epitome of Byzantine architecture - it was the biggest religious building in the world for a thousand years and changed architecture forever. It was overtaken by Seville cathedral in the 16th century. The name normally translates as the church of 'holy' or 'saintly wisdom.' The building has had four distinct eras in its life - Christian basilica - seat of the Patriarch of the Eastern church - nearly 700 years, a Catholic cathedral after the fourth crusade - a brief six decades, a mosque for nearly 500 years and then as a museum after the founding of the Turkish Republic in !935.

Picture 1 - The minarets were added by Mehmed the Conqueror when he took the city in 1453.

Picture 2 - The discs you can see are from the time of the building being a mosque - they are passages from the Koran in Kufic script. At the bottom left is the mihrab - where the imam would deliver the prayers.

Picture 3 - The dome - architecturally the most impressive thing about the building. Let's remember this was constructed in the 6th century. The space created and the use of light is still staggering. The detail at the top is Muslim - again Kufic script - below are representations of the archangels from the Christian period. I remember writing an essay in which I mentioned the building and citing an account from a traveler that visited in the 7th century. He spoke of the dome seemingly hovering above you - 'it must be anchored to heaven by a chain.' That's still the impression you get.

Amusingly enough - neither of the architects that designed the structure were Christian - or indeed architects. They were Greek mathematicians and all-round philosopher types.

If you have got this far, thank you for reading. I'll come back to this building tomorrow. Yours - I.

@Floid_Maniac @William Dobson
You guys a blowing my alleged mind. Great, great stuff.
 
OP
Digimonkey
Messages
1,297
With a name of Mehmed the Conquereror I suppose he could put the minarets where he wanted! Great pictures with some history on top for good measure, well done, very interesting indeed .P.
Thanks P. Ottoman emperors tended to have fairly grandiose names. Why wouldn't you - if you ran an empire? Must be a perk of the job? He was followed by - amongst others - Suleiman the Magnificent - for me the stand out Ottoman emperor. His armies got to the gates of Vienna - they were stopped only by the mud - they couldn't get their cannons in position - an innovation in warfare at this time - European history would have been very different had this not been the case. He also massively mismanaged the siege of Malta - he split his command. Big mistake. If he had left the naval commander Dragut in charge everything would have been fine. Instead he put an idiot relative in charge of the land forces, End result - failure. I.
 
Last edited:
OP
Digimonkey
Messages
1,297
Istanbul - Day 3 - Hagia Sophia - details -

SR-Stan6.jpg

SR-Stan10.jpg

SR-Stan9.jpg

SR-Haghia1.jpg

Picture 1 - it was once assumed that the materials for the Hagia Sophia were scavenged from various places but this was not the case. They were imported from around the empire and specifically for the building. The variety of polychrome marble and porphyry is stunning. The floor was originally carpeted. During construction Justinian was well on his way to retaking Rome and Italy - well he wasn't, his general Belisarius did the actual fighting. A military genius - he made short work of the Ostrogoths. For his trouble Justinian had him jailed on trumped up corruption charges. There's gratitude for you.

Picture 2 - just to the left of this is the grave marker of Doge Enrico Dandolo - it's not his actual grave, nobody knows where it was sited. Dandolo orchestrated the sack of Constantinople in 1204 - one of the most shameful events in medieval history. The Venetians were contracted to transport the crusaders to the middle east but couldn't raise the money so they were diverted to do the Venetian's dirty work. Their trading concessions were under threat being the reason. Dandolo died a year after the Latins took the city and they had the hubris to bury him in the basilica - the Greeks had the last laugh though, when they regained the city they dug up his body and fed his bones to stray dogs. The actual grave was destroyed by the Ottomans - which is why nobody knows where it is.

Picture 3 - detail of the 13th century Deesis mosaic. It's of the Christ Pantocrater type - Orthodox religious art was - and still is to a large degree - highly formulaic, they didn't go in for innovation much. The positioning of the hands and fingers have specific meaning if you know how to read them. In this case - entreaty. I was never sure why Byzantine artists were so rubbish at hands - we'll return to this in a later post. The reason why the piece survived at all is thanks to the Muslim Ottomans - they were in the habit of simply plastering over them when they converted churches to mosques. Islam isn't good with figurative art.

Picture 4 - The precincts of the Hagia Sophia are littered with sundry bits of carved panels, columns and that sort of thing. Anywhere else in the world someone would put them in a museum. Not here - they aren't short of history in the city.

Thank you for reading - cheers - I.
 
Last edited:
Messages
12,211
Istanbul - Day 3 - Hagia Sophia - details -

View attachment 26852

View attachment 26853

View attachment 26854

View attachment 26855

Picture 1 - it was once assumed that the materials for the Hagia Sophia were scavenged from various places but this was not the case. It was imported from around the empire but especially for the building. The variety of polychrome marble and porphyry is stunning. The floor was originally carpeted. During construction Justinian was well on his way to retaking Rome and Italy - well he wasn't, his general Belisarius did the actual fighting. A military genius - he made short work of the Ostrogoths. For his trouble Justinian had him jailed on trumped up corruption charges. There's gratitude for you.

Picture 2 - just to the left of this is the grave marker of Doge Enrico Dandolo - it's not his actual grave, nobody knows where it was sited. Dandolo orchestrated the sack of Constantinople in 1204 - one of the most shameful events in medieval history. The Venetians were contracted to transport the crusaders to the middle east but couldn't raise the money so were diverted to do the Venetian's dirty work. Their trading concessions were under threat being the reason. Dandolo died a year after the Latins took the city and they had the hubris to bury him in the basilica - the Greeks had the last laugh though, when they regained the city they dug up his body and fed his bones to stray dogs. The actual grave was destroyed by the Ottomans - which is why nobody knows where it is.

Picture 3 - detail of the 13th century Deesis mosaic. It's of the Christ Pantocrater type - Orthodox religious art was - and still is to a large degree - highly formulaic, they didn't go in for innovation much. The positioning of the hands and fingers have specific meaning if you know how to read them. In this case - entreaty. I was never sure why Byzantine artists were so rubbish at hands - we'll return to this in a later post. The reason why the piece survived at all is thanks to the Muslim Ottomans - they were in the habit of simply plastering over them when they converted churches to mosques. Islam isn't good with figurative art.

Picture 4 - The precincts of the Hagia Sophia are littered with sundry bits of carved panels, columns and that sort of thing. Anywhere else in the world someone would put them in a museum. Not here - they aren't short of history in the city.

Thank you for reading - cheers - I.
The light in picture 3 is just wonderful and I see what you are saying regarding the hands, rarther odd. Very interesting indeed. :)
 
OP
Digimonkey
Messages
1,297
Istanbul - Day 4 - the Basilica Cistern -

SR-Istan-cistern.jpg

If you look at a map - the Golden Horn is immediately an obviously highly defensible place to build a city. Put a wall up at the western approaches and you have the sea on the other three sides. Water is the problem though - well, fresh water. The first thing any besieging army was going to do was to cut the aqueducts feeding the city. Solution - construct cisterns to store water for an extended period. There were hundreds of them historically. This is the most famous. Probably originally constructed by Constantine - but what you are looking at is mostly the work of Justinian in the 6th C. - although it has been renovated several times since. It was the drinking water supply for the Emperor's palace and then the Topkapi complex of the Ottomans. It functioned as part of the public water supply of Istanbul until the early 20th century. The picture in no way shape or form shows the scale adequately. It is nearly 10,000 square meters in size, and they could store 100,000 tons of water here. The roof is held up by 336 columns - scavenged from other buildings - most of the ones you can see in this picture are Corinthian. Although the bottom of the picture has rendered as looking like polished marble it's actually several feet of water. There are fish in it. This is the result of a very long exposure - 5 or 10 minutes. I had the camera on a small tripod - which is not allowed. An enjoyable game of cat and mouse with the staff.

Thank you for looking and reading - cheers - I.

@William Dobson @Number Six @Helveticum
 
Last edited:
Messages
399
Location
Oviedo, Spain
Istanbul - Day 3 - Hagia Sophia - details -

View attachment 26852

View attachment 26853

View attachment 26854

View attachment 26855

Picture 1 - it was once assumed that the materials for the Hagia Sophia were scavenged from various places but this was not the case. They were imported from around the empire and specifically for the building. The variety of polychrome marble and porphyry is stunning. The floor was originally carpeted. During construction Justinian was well on his way to retaking Rome and Italy - well he wasn't, his general Belisarius did the actual fighting. A military genius - he made short work of the Ostrogoths. For his trouble Justinian had him jailed on trumped up corruption charges. There's gratitude for you.

Picture 2 - just to the left of this is the grave marker of Doge Enrico Dandolo - it's not his actual grave, nobody knows where it was sited. Dandolo orchestrated the sack of Constantinople in 1204 - one of the most shameful events in medieval history. The Venetians were contracted to transport the crusaders to the middle east but couldn't raise the money so they were diverted to do the Venetian's dirty work. Their trading concessions were under threat being the reason. Dandolo died a year after the Latins took the city and they had the hubris to bury him in the basilica - the Greeks had the last laugh though, when they regained the city they dug up his body and fed his bones to stray dogs. The actual grave was destroyed by the Ottomans - which is why nobody knows where it is.

Picture 3 - detail of the 13th century Deesis mosaic. It's of the Christ Pantocrater type - Orthodox religious art was - and still is to a large degree - highly formulaic, they didn't go in for innovation much. The positioning of the hands and fingers have specific meaning if you know how to read them. In this case - entreaty. I was never sure why Byzantine artists were so rubbish at hands - we'll return to this in a later post. The reason why the piece survived at all is thanks to the Muslim Ottomans - they were in the habit of simply plastering over them when they converted churches to mosques. Islam isn't good with figurative art.

Picture 4 - The precincts of the Hagia Sophia are littered with sundry bits of carved panels, columns and that sort of thing. Anywhere else in the world someone would put them in a museum. Not here - they aren't short of history in the city.

Thank you for reading - cheers - I.
God is in the details. Great stuff.
 
Messages
1,214
Location
Southern Ontario, Canada
Digimonkey, you've captured the essence of Istanbul extraordinarily well. I think black and white really adds texture to the subjects. My wife and I spent a week in Istanbul 4 years ago and we were staggered by the city. I had spent a lot of time in Cairo working and before I visited Istanbul I Was nervous that it would be much like Cairo; how wrong, and relieved, I was. Istanbul is a stunning city both architecturally and in its people. We also developed a fondness for Ottoman food.
 
OP
Digimonkey
Messages
1,297
Istanbul - Day 5 - The Blue Mosque

SR-Istan3.jpg

SR-Istan7.jpg

SR-Istan8.jpg

SR-Istan6.jpg


Picture 1 -

Actually correctly called the Sultan Ahmed mosque- after Ahmed the first, who commissioned its construction - most people call it the Blue mosque because of the colour scheme of the decoration, you're going to have to take my word for this. It was completed in 1616 - late for a mosque firmly of the Ottoman classical tradition. Perhaps no great surprise - the guy in charge of design and construction, Mehmed Aga, was trained by Sinan. The greatest of Ottoman mosque architects. If you are keen eyed you might be thinking - is that an Egyptian obelisk in the foreground? That's exactly what it is. The open ground in front of the mosque was the site of Constantine's hippodrome. They put various interesting things brought - well stolen - from around the empire and laid them along the 'spina' - the central line of the track. It was made in roughly 1500 bce near Aswan. Constantine originally sent one to Rome - where it still is - and one to Alexandria. It was Theodesius who moved it to its present site around 400 ce - amusingly enough they broke it in transit, it's shorter than it was originally. Finally - the building has six minarets. No great problem you would of thought - but at the time so did the Grand mosque in Mecca. To emulate that would be seen as - at best - hubris, if not down right impiety. When this was pointed out to Ahmed - he came up with a genius solution - we'll pay for a seventh in Mecca. Seven there are to this day.

Picture 2 -

The main prayer hall - it's difficult to show the sense of space created and the exquisite use of light built in by the architect.The men in the far ground are doing optional prayers. Non muslims are not allowed in during the five mandatory attendances for salah each day. Fair enough.

Picture 3 -

Roof detail. As is commonly understood, Islam generally doesn't do figurative art - but this has been slightly deviated from here - the hand-painted Iznik tiles go from strictly geometrical and abstract to feature vegetal and fruit patterns. Iznik tiles were considered the finest in the Ottoman world for decorating mosques - the Greeks used to call the place Nicaea, a lovely irony if you know your early church history.

Picture 4 -

Man at prayer, it's this sort of picture that reminds me of why I still use rangefinder film cameras. They are not far off silent in operation. I would have been horrified if I had upset him in his devotional duties but I needed a figure to anchor the picture. Try it yourself, put your thumb over the guy and see what happens to the composition - it falls apart. Leicas - I also use modern Voigtlanders - are discrete and intimate when taking pictures in this sort of situation. Few other types of camera allow this.

If you have got this far - thank you for looking and reading. Don't worry, the end is in sight. Tomorrow will be the last post in this thread by me. Anybody else is welcome to add to it. cheers - I.

@Floid_Maniac @William Dobson @Rufus
 
Messages
399
Location
Oviedo, Spain
Istanbul - Day 5 - The Blue Mosque

View attachment 26915

View attachment 26916

View attachment 26917

View attachment 26918


Picture 1 -

Actually correctly called the Sultan Ahmed mosque- after Ahmed the first, who commissioned its construction - most people call it the Blue mosque because of the colour scheme of the decoration, you're going to have to take my word for this. It was completed in 1616 - late for a mosque firmly of the Ottoman classical tradition. Perhaps no great surprise - the guy in charge of design and construction, Mehmed Aga, was trained by Sinan. The greatest of Ottoman mosque architects. If you are keen eyed you might be thinking - is that an Egyptian obelisk in the foreground? That's exactly what it is. The open ground in front of the mosque was the site of Constantine's hippodrome. They put various interesting things brought - well stolen - from around the empire and laid them along the 'spina' - the central line of the track. It was made in roughly 1500 bce near Aswan. Constantine originally sent one to Rome - where it still is - and one to Alexandria. It was Theodesius who moved it to its present site around 400 ce - amusingly enough they broke it in transit, it's shorter than it was originally. Finally - the building has six minarets. No great problem you would of thought - but at the time so did the Grand mosque in Mecca. To emulate that would be seen as - at best - hubris, if not down right impiety. When this was pointed out to Ahmed - he came up with a genius solution - we'll pay for a seventh in Mecca. Seven there are to this day.

Picture 2 -

The main prayer hall - it's difficult to show the sense of space created and the exquisite use of light built in by the architect.The men in the far ground are doing optional prayers. Non muslims are not allowed in during the five mandatory attendances for salah each day. Fair enough.

Picture 3 -

Roof detail. As is commonly understood, Islam generally doesn't do figurative art - but this has been slightly deviated from here - the hand-painted Iznik tiles go from strictly geometrical and abstract to feature vegetal and fruit patterns. Iznik tiles were considered the finest in the Ottoman world for decorating mosques - the Greeks used to call the place Nicaea, a lovely irony if you know your early church history.

Picture 4 -

Man at prayer, it's this sort of picture that reminds me of why I still use rangefinder film cameras. They are not far off silent in operation. I would have been horrified if I had upset him in his devotional duties but I needed a figure to anchor the picture. Try it yourself, put your thumb over the guy and see what happens to the composition - it falls apart. Leicas - I also use modern Voigtlanders - are discrete and intimate when taking pictures in this sort of situation. Few other types of camera allow this.

If you have got this far - thank you for looking and reading. Don't worry, the end is in sight. Tomorrow will be the last post in this thread by me. Anybody else is welcome to add to it. cheers - I.

@Floid_Maniac @William Dobson @Rufus
I'm running out of superlatives, for Christ sake!
 
Messages
2,413
Location
London
Istanbul - Day 5 - The Blue Mosque

View attachment 26915

View attachment 26916

View attachment 26917

View attachment 26918


Picture 1 -

Actually correctly called the Sultan Ahmed mosque- after Ahmed the first, who commissioned its construction - most people call it the Blue mosque because of the colour scheme of the decoration, you're going to have to take my word for this. It was completed in 1616 - late for a mosque firmly of the Ottoman classical tradition. Perhaps no great surprise - the guy in charge of design and construction, Mehmed Aga, was trained by Sinan. The greatest of Ottoman mosque architects. If you are keen eyed you might be thinking - is that an Egyptian obelisk in the foreground? That's exactly what it is. The open ground in front of the mosque was the site of Constantine's hippodrome. They put various interesting things brought - well stolen - from around the empire and laid them along the 'spina' - the central line of the track. It was made in roughly 1500 bce near Aswan. Constantine originally sent one to Rome - where it still is - and one to Alexandria. It was Theodesius who moved it to its present site around 400 ce - amusingly enough they broke it in transit, it's shorter than it was originally. Finally - the building has six minarets. No great problem you would of thought - but at the time so did the Grand mosque in Mecca. To emulate that would be seen as - at best - hubris, if not down right impiety. When this was pointed out to Ahmed - he came up with a genius solution - we'll pay for a seventh in Mecca. Seven there are to this day.

Picture 2 -

The main prayer hall - it's difficult to show the sense of space created and the exquisite use of light built in by the architect.The men in the far ground are doing optional prayers. Non muslims are not allowed in during the five mandatory attendances for salah each day. Fair enough.

Picture 3 -

Roof detail. As is commonly understood, Islam generally doesn't do figurative art - but this has been slightly deviated from here - the hand-painted Iznik tiles go from strictly geometrical and abstract to feature vegetal and fruit patterns. Iznik tiles were considered the finest in the Ottoman world for decorating mosques - the Greeks used to call the place Nicaea, a lovely irony if you know your early church history.

Picture 4 -

Man at prayer, it's this sort of picture that reminds me of why I still use rangefinder film cameras. They are not far off silent in operation. I would have been horrified if I had upset him in his devotional duties but I needed a figure to anchor the picture. Try it yourself, put your thumb over the guy and see what happens to the composition - it falls apart. Leicas - I also use modern Voigtlanders - are discrete and intimate when taking pictures in this sort of situation. Few other types of camera allow this.

If you have got this far - thank you for looking and reading. Don't worry, the end is in sight. Tomorrow will be the last post in this thread by me. Anybody else is welcome to add to it. cheers - I.

@Floid_Maniac @William Dobson @Rufus
Marvellous photos Iain. I love the lighting in image 4.
 
Messages
2,238
Location
UK
Sorry to hear this threads coming to an end :(
Non muslims are not allowed in during the five mandatory attendances for salah each day.
Goes to show that religion ultimately divides rather than unifies.
the Greeks used to call the place Nicaea, a lovely irony if you know your early church history.
The birth place of the Universal church. How many Christian sects are there now?
 
OP
Digimonkey
Messages
1,297
Digimonkey, you've captured the essence of Istanbul extraordinarily well. I think black and white really adds texture to the subjects. My wife and I spent a week in Istanbul 4 years ago and we were staggered by the city. I had spent a lot of time in Cairo working and before I visited Istanbul I Was nervous that it would be much like Cairo; how wrong, and relieved, I was. Istanbul is a stunning city both architecturally and in its people. We also developed a fondness for Ottoman food.
@Rufus - thank you - yes, the quality of the food was a revelation in Istanbul. The eating culture also. On our first visit there we had dinner on the lower deck of the Galata bridge - in a seafood restaurant - what else would you find there?. There was a family next to us that were having dessert and coffee when we arrived but dallied so long they started again on the meze. They had an other full meal. We left before them. We hadn't learned to hold our raki at that point but got up to speed pretty quickly. Your pour the raki first - ice second. It's a wonderful place but I don't think they have their sorrows to seek at the moment. I've met people that couldn't deal with the city - it's quite 'in your face', not for the faint hearted - but we are Glaswegian - it's kind of similar. Thanks again - I.
 
Top