The Window Nook

Adventures in living abroad

An Evening in Istanbul

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BlueMosque2     In the Old Town area of Istanbul, near the Sultanahmet tram stop, lies an open square bordered on one side by the majestic Hagia Sophia and on the other by the Blue Mosque. This square is nearly deserted in the morning, but fills up during the day, especially during the month of Ramadan. As we walked through this square early in the morning, we passed locals headed to the tram stop for another day of work, vendors sitting in front of mounds of simit (Turkish bagels) and pyramids of water bottles, and young men attempting to sell us a tickets on a Bosphorus cruise. The heat of the day was just starting, but already the air had a warm, scented feeling. Palm trees tossed lightly in the breeze, and the cat attached to a nearby stall napped contentedly on a pile of cushion covers.
HagiaSophiaJust after sunset, we returned to the square to watch the nightly tradition of breaking the Ramadan fast with a communal meal. Long rows of picnic tables had been set up along the square, their white tablecloths held in place with square boxed meals bought at local stands. Other families opted to bring their own meal, and the scents of kofte (meatballs), hummus, and naan bread wafted across the square. Families spread their blankets on the nearby grass, and sat talking and laughing together as the night fell. Andrew and walked the length of the square, pausing to buy homemade naan bread roasted and stuffed with feta cheese, and dish of watermelon squares. The naan bread was delicious, the feta cheese providing just the right note of saltiness to accent the freshly baked bread. Along one side of the square was a small, covered marketplace- stalls on each side, with arches between them strung with icicle Christmas lights. Mixed crowds jostled here- families out for a stroll and a little shopping, tourists looking for gifts for family back home. Some shopkeepers opted to practice their handiwork on site to draw customers, and crowds gathered around the hunched man patiently painting a traditional design on a coffee mug. A row of painted plates hung along the top of this stall, featuring bold fan-like carnations and stylized tulips. Further along, a stall featured wooden products, including beautifully carved book stands with intricate designs.
BlueMosqueNightAs we reached the end of the market. we turned back to look at the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque again. The night sky had deepened to a cobalt blue, and the pale minarets of the Blue Mosque stood out clearly against the dark sky. A banner in Christmas lights had been stretched between two minarets, proclaiming a Ramadan message. Behind us, the bulk of the Hagia Sophia rose, its walls a deep ochre. Floodlights lit up the outside walls, and smaller lights illuminated the minarets which had been added later. In front of us, the fountain started into motion again, its jets spraying water high in the air. Floodlights under the fountain illuminated the falling water, and children ran and laughed as the spray lifted towards them in the breeze. I closed my eyes and listened to the hum of conversations nearby, families laughing together under the night sky, and the sound of falling water. The Hagia Sophia stood in the background, silently watching, as it has for centuries.

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Author: annekemae

Enjoys writing, photography, reading mystery, historical fiction, and travelogues, chocolate in any form, and tulips.

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