ISTANBUL__Today we were granted one of the best things a college student could ask for, a later start to the day than normal! We all gathered in the cafeteria a full hour later than normal, and had small meals to give us energy for the long day ahead. To start our journey we took the metro to a cable car, and the cable car to the tram where we walked a good distance to the Topkapi Palace, which is where the sultans used to live.
There were many rooms with different types of artifacts in the castle, such as flasks, clothing of sultans, and the world’s 4th largest diamond. The diamond, dubbed the Spoonmaker’s Diamond, is 86 carats, teardrop shaped, and surrounded by many other smaller diamonds. It was magnificent to see something so valuable up close and personal. After the rooms of artifacts, we ventured further in the palace compound to discover walls of beautiful mosaics, a building where ceremonial circumsions were done, and overlooks the Bosphorus.
We ventured into the Harem to see where the Sultan used to keep his concubines. The walls were top-to-bottom covered in beautiful blue floral decorated tiles and had large decorated domes. One thing I found particularly interesting was the way they incorporated a drainage system on one of the decks. There was a hand washing spout on the deck and a gutter-type groove on the floor set in front of it running to the edge of the deck. The gutter ended with an elaborate design that was both functional and decorative.
After the harem we grabbed some lunch and then headed to the Grand Bazaar. The Grand Bazaar is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, making it simple to get lost in the blocks and blocks of vendors. We meandered around checking out the different regions of textiles, jewelry, ceramics, and souvenirs and was shocked by the sheer size of the place.
After a couple hours of haggling prices, most of us met up with the group. Our professors led us to a sketchy looking building and told us to go to the top of the stairs. Four floors later, we realized the view was well worth the effort to reach the roof-top restaurant. We ended our day in Europe overlooking the Bosphorus and the continent of Asia on the other side, not something most people can say!
BY: Ashley Tamales