After the Blue Mosque we were taken to a rug gallery, where they provided a brief history of rug making, and a demonstration. It is really amazing how much work goes into a handmade rug, how many hours, how many people, etc. We couldn't buy a rug because it just wasn't in the budget (and we had no way to get it home on RyanAir), but we'd love to have one someday.
For a normal living room sized rug it can take a team of 4 people six months to make one!
They rolled all these rugs out in front of us for us to see- of course they didn't tell you any prices until you acted interested in one. We decided to head out and find the Grand Bazaar, which we were told was right down the road.
After going around in a circle, we finally found the Grand Bazaar after seeing this entrance. It didn't look very grand from the outside to me!
Once inside we quickly got lost in a maze of hallways and tunnels. All the shops and corners started to look the same! We couldn't even find our way back to the entrance that we came in to, so we had to just leave and wander around until we found our way back. We were so worried our tour group was going to leave us, and we cut it really close!!
Maddox really wanted a scarf, but we kept getting quoted these ridiculous tourist prices, and the shop-owners didn't seem to want to haggle much. I laughed in one man's face when he asked for 20 Euro for a scarf I could buy in Germany for 10. We stopped and asked another shop where we could find a cheap scarf for Maddox, and they just opened a drawer and gave her one! :)
After joining up with our tour group again we headed to the Hagia Sophia. This is a much older Mosque than the Blue Mosque, and in fact it was a Christian Cathedral before it was turned into a Mosque. It was built around the year 500 I believe.
The ceilings were so gorgeous, but I was a little worried they might fall down.
The central dome has some beautiful Arabic writing.
Part of the church is constantly being restored, so there were scaffolds blocking a lot of it. But you can see the difference in the cleaned up ceiling, and the dirty wall.
It's really impressive that when they turned the building into a mosque, they did not deface or remove the Christian symbols and murals. They preserved them for historical and artistic value.
This urn was carved with water, from one block of Marble.
We LOVED Istanbul and would love to go back and spend more time there. It was an amazing place filled with friendly people, and beautiful things to see. Here is the view from the back of the boat, after we returned in the afternoon.
The kids love their T-shirts, and Mdx got her scarf!
Next up- another day at sea!