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Thriving amid a patchwork of well-pruned lawns, the Hippodrome of Constantinople is one of the most revered landmarks of Turkey. During the Byzantine heyday, this site was a famed recreational and entertainment venue and played host to an array of events like festivities, political parades, horse racing as well as chariot racing. Having stood the test of time, this ceremonial square is deeply entrenched in a legendary and long-standing Roman and Ottoman history. Although conceived in 203 BCE, the actual construction of the Hippodrome was not executed until 324 BCE, under the command of the Emperor Constantine the Great. Here is where the bronze-built Serpent Column unravels many a Greek secret with each bend of its sinuous course. However, the centerpiece of the Hippodrome is, perhaps, the towering Obelisk of Theodosius. Standing on an elaborately-carved pedestal and adorned with historic inscriptions, the Hippodrome has aged gracefully for thousands of thousands of years. Lodged on the southern recesses of the Hippodrome is the timeworn Walled Obelisk, whose gilded facade was razed by Latin crusaders, hence, what remains of it today is a ramshackle stone skeleton. Also home to the ornate German Fountain, the fabled Hippodrome of Constantinople is the crowning glory of Istanbul.
The minaret of the Sokollu Mehmet Pasha Mosque punctuates the heart of Kadirga. Mimar Sinan is the Ottoman architectural force behind the majestic structure built on a slope and completed in the 16th Century. Named after Grand Vizier Sokollu Mehmet Pasha, the beautiful establishment is a commemorative token to his wife Princess Esmahan. The dome encloses a courtyard, prayer hall and a hexagon-shaped mosque. The interior facades are tiled with the special İznik kind in intricate floral handwork in cool hues. In addition, a white marble stand for the prayer leader, glass-stained windows and calligraphic panels are significant features.
The Kılıç Ali Pasha Cami was built in the late 1500s by renowned architect of the 16th Century, Mimar Sinan. It is christened after the Grand Admiral during the Ottoman period. Its splendid architecture lends to common recognition of its resemblance to the historic Orthodox-basilica-turned-mosque, the Hagia Sophia. The central dome is flanked by exedras on either side and the structure boasts a solitary minaret. Iznik tiles are inscribed with holy verses from the Koran, while six marble columns above the prayer hall are topped with five domes. In addition to a mosque, the complex features a madrassah, a tomb, and Turkish bath or hamam.
The Armenian Patriarchate of the Oriental Orthodox Church is one of the smallest of its kind, but holds a significant religious and political status among the Armenian community in Turkey. The seat lies in the majestic Holy Mother of God Patriarchal Church, located in the heart of Kumkapı, a neighborhood populated with Turkish Armenians. Hovakim I was the first of the longstanding list of spiritual leaders established back in 1461. Over the five and a half centuries there have been 84 patriarchs and counting, that represent the Ottoman era, the Young Turks reign in the early 1900s, and the Republic Of Turkey in the present day.
Boasting of hundreds of opulent rooms, lavish Turkish baths and entrances which look like gateways to heaven, Dolmabahçe Palace is ostentatious. Nestled along the picturesque coast of Bosphorus, this elegant palace was built close to the mid-1800s, under the orders of the then-Sultan Abdülmecid I. Bearing a stately Neoclassical visage adorned with finial decorations, and fronted by ornamental gardens and jubilant fountains, the palace boasts an interior which is a different world in itself. Flamboyant, and unabashedly luxurious, the insides of this palace are a paradisaical mosaic of gilded ceiling work, effervescent chandeliers, crystal stairways and authentic bearskin rugs. Particularly noteworthy are the Pink Hall, the Medhal Hall, the Blue Hall and Ataturk’s Room, where the revered revolutionary took his last breaths. Also lodged on the palace grounds is the glorious Dolmabahçe Clock Tower and the ornate Dolmabahçe Mosque, both of which hearken back to the palace's bygone, yet everlasting splendor. A canopy of unhindered extravagance, the waterfront Dolmabahçe Palace reserves a special place in the hearts of the Turkish people.