Saturday, 17 April 2010

Archaeology Museum and more mosques

The weather is overcast this morning, so we decide to go to the Archaeology Museum. It rains a little on the way. The museum is in three sections; we start with the Museum of the Ancient Orient, which conains some interesting Egyptian artefacts and some murals, stelae and statues from Babylon. The Babylonian kings really liked to big themselves up, and were also rather strict - threatening to hang homeowners above their house if they built it too far out into a road, for example.

The museum of Turkish ceramics is housed in a charming building called the Tiled Pavilion and contains some beautiful tilework. The main museum is massive, covering several floors and containing a wide range of exhibits, so many that we ran out of steam eventually. One of the most impressive was the Alexander sarcophagus, and the most poignant were the Roman burial plaques. We were taken aback by the high prices in the cafeteria where we had to buy a snack because we had been in the museum so long.

We had a late lunch in the restaurant with the gift shop by the hippodrome, then went to explore two lesser mosques. The first, Sokollu Mehmet Pasa, was quite modest but in an interesting part of town with some traditional timber houses with overhanging balconies, most in a sad state of repair. The second, Kucuk Ayasophia, was my favourite so far - beautifully decorated inside and sympathetically restored.

We returned briefly to the hotel to check the news, which wasn't good, then headed off towards Taksim to meet Sophie and Carl. We walked over Galata Bridge and took the Tunel, then the antique tram to Taksim Square. We had a quick look at Taksim Park then got a text from Sophie asking us to meet them in the Cicek Pasaji, a charming arcade of restaurants, where we had dinner with Nefise.

Istiklal Cadesi was a sea of people, with the shops open late and clubs in the streets behind it's a popular spot in the evening. After dinner we joined them and Simon bought some Levis (for the same price as at home!). We spoke to Alex, who has left on the coach for Calais and is expected home about midday tomorrow. Then we took the funicular to Kabatas and the tram back to the hotel.

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