We arrived in Turkey by plane late at night and woke up with a busy plan ahead of us. Istanbul is a huge city, and we chose to explore the closest sights to us that morning. The old city part of Istanbul is called Sultanahment. The building in this photo is the Hagia Sophia, now a museum, formerly a patriarchal basilica and a mosque. It is an important symbol of Byzantine architecture and served as the model for several other mosques throughout the city.
For over a thousand years, it was actually the largest cathedral in the world and the religious focal point of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Istanbul was formerly known as Constantinopole and in 1453, the city was conquered by Ottoman Turks, when it was then converted to a mosque by adding Islamic features like a mihrab (niche in the wall), minbar (raised platform), and minarets (tall spires outside the mosque). By 1935, the founder of the Republic of Turkey transformed it into a museum.
Istanbul is full of history and that day we learned a lot about the city that is actually on two continents: Europe and Asia!