Day 12: Chora Church, Galata tower, and Taksim Square

We woke early on our last day with lots to do.  We began by taking a taxi up to see the Chora Church, a must-see museum covered in incredible mosaics situated up the golden horn which we hadn’t really explored yet.  It is small and built in the 16th century.  The mosaics were built throughout the interior as scenes depicting the entire life of Jesus Christ.  From what we saw of the incredible pieces that have survived the centuries, this must have been one amazing church.  We got an audio tour, which was extremely well done and easy to follow.  I’ll just let these pictures we took speak for themselves.

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The wall around the church overlooks this pretty garden.

The wall around the church overlooks this pretty garden.

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From the museum, we took a cab back down to the historic district to buy more Turkish delight from our favorite store, Haci Bekir, the one our tour guide took us to on our first day in the city.  I took lots of pictures because I would like to use this location in my book.

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We left the store and sort of wandered down the street trying to decide how we wanted to get to Galata tower.  We stopped at this nice Legacy Ottoman hotel which had this lovely little blue café where we drank some more Turkish coffee.  Oh man, I miss Turkish coffee!  Side note, when we got home, we finally watched Taken 2, and man I’m almost certain that the interior shots for the hotel lobby scenes were filmed in this hotel.  It looked exactly the same.

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coffee 3a coffee a coffee 2a

From there we had some gyros from a street vendor which were also damn good.  We asked for cab rates across the bridge to Galata tower and they wanted to charge us 20 lira!  That is insane.  Chris looked up directions on his phone and we walked.  This was actually smart of us.  I enjoyed walking across the bridge and taking lots of pictures, but we were tired by the time we got to the tower.

Chestnut sellers come out when the weather gets cool

Chestnut sellers come out when the weather gets cool

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We were told this was the stop for the Orient Express, but it is on the other side of the water from the Pera hotel, so that is confusing....

We were told this was the stop for the Orient Express, but it is on the other side of the water from the Pera hotel, so that is confusing….

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Up and up through the streets...

Up and up through the streets…

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The tower was really cool.  It is located in this neighborhood of twisty, steep streets and stairs.  You pay in the lobby and wait your turn for an elevator ride up to the top to take pictures.  This was somewhat similar to St. Petersburg cathedral in that there is just this short ledge that everyone has to pile onto and make their way around without accidentally elbowing a stranger in the face.  We got some of the greatest pictures on the trip here and it was also the last we took with my nice camera as the battery was done just as we left the tower.  In the evenings, the tower is actually a restaurant with dancing entertainment.  It would have been great to fit that in, but gosh was there so much more I would have liked to do!  I wish I could have stayed a month and done everything twice!

The lobby of Galata tower

The lobby of Galata tower

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From the tower, we walked up İstiklal Avenue or Istiklal Street which leads to Taksim square.  I was so tired by this point that I have to say we rushed this, which I really wish we hadn’t.  Especially in light of everything going on over there right now.  I didn’t even get any really good pictures of Taksim square which we ended our walk on.  This is mostly because we were fighting like crazy at this point.  I wanted to catch a cab back to the Hilton and Chris refused, taking us off the major Avenue saying it wasn’t major (it is) and we’d find a cab easier since all the ones right there in front of us were going the wrong direction.  I can’t begin to explain what he was talking about because it was jibberish nonsense because Chris was sick of getting ripped off by cabs.  I hurt my ankle as we walking around side streets to the Istiklal Street which are the steepest incline I’ve ever seen in a neighborhood, including San Francisco, screaming at each other the whole way.  A few locals witnessed this and I’m sure had a good laugh.  I was not laughing and it took over an hour to get back to the hotel.  By the time we got to Taksim square, Chris admitted to being wrong and apologized profusely, but we were pretty done for the day, unfortunately.

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Church of St. Anthony of Padua, Istanbul just off Istiklal Street

Church of St. Anthony of Padua, Istanbul just off Istiklal Street

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One comment on “Day 12: Chora Church, Galata tower, and Taksim Square

  1. Julie Luek says:

    Beautiful architecture. My husband and I often prefer the walking tours as opposed to taxis when we visit places. There have been a few times where we outwalked our endurance, but it’s the best way to really see and experience an area.

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