The center of 3000 years of history and one of the most beautiful ancient cities still standing today…Istanbul is a testament to time. It still stands in the grandeur that saw it self at the center of numerous empires and the cross roads of civilizations. Sultanahmet was the long historic center of what was once an ancient fortress city. This area is where one finds Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, Basilica Cistern, Hippodrome, and a host of many other roman, greek, and ottoman wonders dot this area.
As the city was destroyed and rebuilt many times, you can literally see the ruins it was built on top of at the Hippodrome. The ancient city is alive and still in use, unlike Rome which is dotted with unoccupied ruins. Hagia Sophia is probably the most famous building in this area, as it was once an early Christian church, then Mosque, and now a Museum. The place is incredible, with a mixture of influences and religions. It is also a testament to Turkish tolerance and secularism all mixed in with a strong pride in its ancient roots.
The Blue Mosque remains a place of islamic worship, but it remains the center of tolerance as it stays open to all people of all faiths (or lack thereof). Also inside is a small library and a great deal of peace. Even so, the Blue Mosque just can not compare to the strong presence of Hagia Sophia which sits right across from it. The area is riddled with monuments and ancient artifacts, so it is likely best to just get lost.
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