Istanbul the incredible. Where Asia and Europe meet; where the many ages and stages of history, religions and peoples meld together. We spent a full day visiting the sites and barely scratched the surface.

The Hagia Sofia, the world's largest church for 900 years, until the Turks turned it into a mosque in the 1400's. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk declared it a national monument and museum in 1935, as it is today.

The Topkapi Palace was built in 1460 as the management center of the Ottoman Empire and home to sultans for over 400 years. Built around three huge courtyards, it's full of riches and treasures, and school children on field trips.

The Blue Mosque is only 400 years old, containing 21,403 tiles of varying shades of blue, and is used as an active place of prayer for Muslims. Did you know that the origin of the word turquoise comes from here: the Turks' color?

The Grand Bazaar is 500 years old and puts the MOA to shame with over 4,000 shops and a million shoppers a day. We spent an hour there and saw a tiny portion of it.

Later, we called Nashville and left a Happy Birthday message for Eric – Serta Mulia!

Good morning, Istanbul.

Tom, Bruce and our guide, Evrin, at the Hagia Sofia.

Tom looks up in awe.

Tom and Karen at the Topkapi Palace.

 

Our threesome at Topkapi Palace.

Kids on a field trip at Topkapi Palace.

 

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