Today we did a lot of walking. Topkapi Palace, Byzantine Cistern, Byzantine Hippodrome and the Blue Mosque. The high point for me was seeing the treasure rooms and holy relics in Topkapi Palace. Each treasure was more exquisite than the one before and encrusted with massive diamonds, emeralds and rubys. The sacred relics were astonishing in their depth and significance. Among the sacred relics were swords of the Prophet and his companions, the Prophets actual tooth, beard clippings and mantle, the sword of King David, staff of Moses, saucepan of Abraham and turban of Joseph. Nearby were the skull and arm of John the Baptist. I’m still trying to process the experience.
Later as we walked near the Grand Bazaar, I couldn’t help but notice was how clean the streets and paths were in Instanbul, easily the cleanest of all the ancient cities I have visited around the world. I’m not sure of the reason, the residents seem very proud of their city and perhaps this is part of it, and perhaps they view cleanliness as a sacred duty. Whatever the reason, it certainly added to the enjoyment.
One of my goals for the day was to learn more about the Arabic style of calligraphy. There is a booksellers section next to the Grand Bazaar and we found ourselves in the shop of a very pleasant gentleman who sold pages of antique books that had been broken up and illuminated in lustrous gold leaf. After studying several pages and lengthy handwritten proclamations, I ended up purchasing a book that nicely explained the process of Arabic calligraphy and page design, just what I was looking for.