My Stray Cat Expedition in Istanbul, Turkey – Day 5, part 2 (continued from Day 5 part 1)
Dr. Arnold Plotnick
(click pictures to enlarge)
Our goal was the Cinili Mosque, also known as the Tiled Mosque, named for the amazing tilework inside. We started our climb, through the streets of this very working class neighborhood. The incline was very steep, and we were getting pretty tired. Off to our right, high up on the hilltop, I spotted what I thought was the Tiled Mosque. It actually turned out to be the Atik Valide Mosque, Sinan’s last great work and the most important Ottoman monument in Uskudar. Built in 1571 and dedicated to Sultana Nur Banu, the mother of Murad III and wife of Selim II, the mosque was impressive, and had a great courtyard that opened onto a prayer hall adorned with delicate black, red and gold frescoes.
After leaving this mosque, we headed back to the main road, and then continued our climb until we reached our destination: the Cinili or Tiled Mosque. This tiny mosque is adorned with Iznik tiles and an ornate chandelier. The mosque dates back to 1640. The tiles inside were really something.
This is a relatively quiet neighborhood mosque. I think Mark and I were the only tourists present. A caretaker noticed me taking pictures with my camera, and he called me aside and showed me this tiny spiral staircase that lead to an upstairs balcony. Up here, I had an even better view of the mosque and the stunning tiles.
I didn’t see many cats around the grounds of the Tiled Mosque, although I did see this cute little kitten as we were leaving:
We headed back downhill after the Tiled Mosque. We considered stopping at the Karaca Ahmet Cemetery, one of the largest Muslim cemeteries in the Orient, but decided to head back, take the ferry back to the European side, and check out Istanbul Modern, a contemporary art museum that opened in 2004. I love modern art, and this was a really great museum. It’s the only museum in Istanbul dedicated to the works of contemporary Turkish artists. The museum is located in a warehouse by the water.
I love taking photos when I travel, as you can see. It really bugs me when a tourist site has a “no photos” policy. I can understand not allowing photos during a religious service, or no flash photography because they think the flash somehow damages the artwork. But when a museum has an across-the-board no photo policy for no apparent reason, well, it brings out the rebel in me. Istanbul Modern has a strict no-photo policy. So, my dear readers, enjoy an illicit photo taken inside the museum.
Am I a badass or what?
The day’s agenda was coming to an end. As for our evening plans, I had something special on tap. About a month before our flight, after a little online research, I went online and reserved two tickets to see a whirling dervish ceremony.
For those of you who have heard the term “whirling dervish”, but never knew exactly what it means, here’s the scoop. In the 13th century, a Muslim mystic named Rumi began to incorporate “whirling” meditation into his teaching. He believed that a dervish (a member of any of a number of Muslim ascetic orders), spinning in a circle, becomes part of the universal harmony. By whirling, the dervish becomes one with the creator and the created. I wanted to see this, but I was insistent on avoiding the touristy, fake “performances” that about in many of Istanbul’s theaters and restaurants. I wanted to see an authentic religious ceremony, if possible. I ended up not seeing an actual ceremony, but I did see real dervishes, and I watched them spin to beautiful Sufi music performed live at the hall where the ceremony took place.
The music hall was located downhill from Topkapi Palace along the edge of the Bosphorus. Walking there was enjoyable, as we trekked through streets that alternated between touristy and authentic. On all of these streets, cats were plentiful.
We got to the dervish hall a half hour early, but that was good, because the place was filling up fast, and it was open seating. Fortunately, we secured ourselves seats in the second row. The show started with a seven piece orchestra playing traditional Sufi music. Then the dervishes entered the hall, and about a minute into the next song, they started whirling.
After the dervish ceremony, we trudged back up the hill, back to Topkapi Palace, and then back to the Sultanahmet tram station. Before we got to the station, we had to walk through Sultanahmet Park, and at this time of the evening, we were treated to an awesome sight: the Blue Mosque, lit at night, beyond the colorful fountain in the park. Not too shabby.
With this view still in our minds, we headed back to the New District, found our favorite buffet restaurant on Istiklal Street, loaded up our trays, stuffed our faces, and then headed back to the hotel to call it a night.
The Istanbul, Turkey Stray Cat Adventure:
Day 1 Day 2 pt1 Day 2 pt2 Day 3 pt1 Day 3 pt2 Day 4 pt1 Day 4 pt2 Day 5 pt1
Day 5 pt2 Day 6 Day 7
Other Dr. Plotnick adventures: Amsterdam Vienna Budapest Bangkok (coming soon)