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The Haghia Sophia (Aya Sofya) -- formerly the grandest Christian church in the entire world. Then after the city was sacked the Muslims turned it into a mosque. It wasn't a graceful transformation. They put up wooden boards with Koranic verses to cover the Christian symbols and they scratched out the faces of the saints depicted in the mosaics. Luckily, many of the mosaics were in hard-to-reach places and survived. Now it's a museum. Or at least as close as Istanbul comes to a museum. "Museum" there seems to mostly mean a building left on its own to rot and crumble to dust.

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Did I mention the cats? There's freakin' cats everywhere in Istanbul. People just ignore them and they roam free though the museums, restaurants, bathrooms, schools... pretty much anywhere they want.

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Note how the emperor is depicted on the left giving the Aya Sofya to Mary and Jesus. That's a common theme in the remaining Christian mosaics of Istanbul. I think the dude on the left is holding Topkai Palace, but I'm probably wrong.

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Another method of getting around Istanbul -- by historic trolley.

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HMS Exeter. British sailors on leave in Istanbul. They were very friendly and seem to have the same waive as the queen.

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Istanbul Technical University. You think YOU had a hard time getting around campus? There's a canyon in the middle of ITU's campus and to get from one building to the next you have to take a cable car. It looks like it was built in the 1960's. By students. Maybe freshmen. I didn't take the ride, even though it's free. There's pictures of the cable cars coming.

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Isbank Tower. Tallest building in Istanbul. 52 stories.

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Istanbul University. Founded in 1453.

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The Grand Bazaar. Waaaaay bigger than the Galleria. 4,000 shops. A tout at every one. You can spend the whole day haggling. We spent two.

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The Galata Tower. A lighthouse erected by the Genoese in the 1400's when the Italians ran the city.

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Now, where's that furkan internet cafe?

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Urban decay, Istanbul style. Lots of this sort of thing going on around town.

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Dolmabache Palace

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An obelisk from Egypt. This is the location of what used to be the Hippodrome.

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Ferry terminal

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First Bosphorus Bridge

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That fishing bridge with the restaurants again

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Fortune telling bunnies. No, seriously. For a buck they'll tell your fortune.

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I wish there was some place I could go to get some cooked food.

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The Church of Saint Savior in Chora -- the only church the Muslims didn't destroy or convert.

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Jesus pulling Adam and Eve from their coffins at the end of the world.

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The best fresco in the joint. It shows the lineage of Jesus.

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Earthquakes help reveal the brick behind the frescoes

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To us, it's light rail. But to them it's called the Modern Tramway. They have a "Light Rail," too. But it's an entirely different kind of train in another part of the city.

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A cemetery. There's a code for the different tombstones. You can tell what someone did in their life based on the shape of the stone. I forget how it goes, but two of the basic shapes are turban and fez.

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The Blue Mosque

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A Byzantine cistern.

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And like the Chinese, the Turks don't give a crap about trademarks and copyright, either. Again, how do they expect to become part of the E.U.?

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How were you able to take pictures inside the mosques there?

As long as my wife kept herself wrapper up in a head scarf and a long dress and we both took off our shoes they didn't seem to mind.

But we saw three people (tourists, presumably) get tossed before they even hit the door for not taking off their shoes.

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