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Sultanahmet Square Comes To Life

If the obelisks in Sultanahmet Square could talk, they’d have plenty to say about the area’s history over the centuries.


Sultanahmet Square, also known as the Hippodrome, in #Istanbul, #Turkey. #Travel

A photo posted by Monica Wong (@_monicawong) on

During the Byzantine period, the Hippodrome was the center of Constantinople’s largest social gatherings. This was the arena where their passion for horse and chariot racing took place. It was the only place where the emperor and the masses came together in one venue. And at times, it was also a place for political debates.

The Hippodrome, now known as the Sultanahmet Square, is still a major social scene. It’s like New York City’s Times Square, but without all the lights, especially during Ramadan. Families of three generations gather together, plop their behinds on the grassy courtyard to mark their spot for the next few hours before the sun sets. They sit and chat as they await for the first meal of the day.

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Why The Blue Mosque Smells Like Feet

The Blue Mosque reeks, especially during the summer, but that’s because everyone has to take their shoes off.


Beautiful blue tiles inside The Blue Mosque. Unfortunately, it smelled like feet. #Istanbul #Turkey #latergram

A photo posted by Monica Wong (@_monicawong) on

The Blue Mosque sits directly across from the Hagia Sophia on the Hippodrome, also known as Sultanahmet Square. It’s hard to say which is more impressive. They both rival in beauty. With six towering minarets, The Blue Mosque dominates the Istanbul skyline.

Unlike The Hagia Sophia, The Blue Mosque is an active mosque and is not open to visitors at all times. Doors open at 9am and close five times throughout the day for prayers. It is also closed midday on Fridays, the mandatory prayer of the week. Most mosques close an hour before sun down.

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A Brief History of The Hagia Sophia

The Hagia Sophia, which was burned down twice, used to be a church and is now a mosque.


The Hagia Sophia, a church turned mosque turned museum, sits majestically at almost 1,500 years old. Its beauty is timeless. It is as architecturally impressive now as it was back then.

In 1453, Constantinople, now Istanbul, was conquered by the Ottoman Turks. Everything was destroyed and burned to the ground. But Sultan Mehmed II was so enamored by The Hagia Sophia that he ordered it to be turned it into a mosque.

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