On Friday, my program took some of us on a day trip to the western districts of Istanbul. The day was very busy, and we saw many sights, especially Christian ones. This portion of the city has a very ancient feel to it, and contains much of Istanbul’s Greek Orthodox population.
First on our list was the Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarchate Church of St. George, which was extremely opulent:
I’m pretty certain that the following Christ portrait is the original of a piece that was used for the cover of a biblical history class I once took:
Here are some shots of the streets of the Fener district, which are defined by their crowdedness and their hilliness:
Next, we walked to the Church of St. Stephen of the Bulgars, which is constructed of iron:
Our fearless program director Koray gave us some background on the church:
Now, I must confess that I was rather tired at this point, and therefore I found myself in a rather facetious mood. Perhaps this is why I felt compelled to take the following picture, which in retrospect does appear rather sacrilegious:
We next took a bus to Eyüp for lunch. During the walk to the restaurant, the Sultan Eyüp Mosque was doing the call to prayer:
We went inside of the mosque, which was, like all the others I have visited staggeringly beautiful.
After visiting the mosque, we were taking pictures outside of the mosque, when some Turkish women noticed that the women in our program had headscarves on (because we had just been inside the mosque). They were impressed with this, and for whatever reason, wanted us to take a picture of them with us and their children. It was an interesting moment of cultural connection:
To be sure, it was a fascinating day, full of both Muslim and Christian history. All of the churches we visited are still functioning places of worship, further proving the diverse and pluralistic nature of Istanbul culture.