Discover the Hidden Secrets of Sultan Ahmet Square
The Blue Mosque is known the world over and is
arguably the most iconic site in Istanbul (and there are
many jostling for that accolade.)
The stunning hand painted blue tiles adorning the
interior lend it the name.
But it is officially the Mosque of Sultan Ahmet, built on
the orders of the 20-year-old Sultan Ahmet 1. His final
resting place is inside.
The Blue Mosque is not the only treasure in the
We cross the square to the Church of St Sophia -
the Hagia Sophia. This is the enduring symbol of
Constantinople, the historical name for Istanbul.
The Byzantine Church of the Holy Wisdom of God was
the Orthodox cathedral of Constantinople.
After the Ottoman conquest, the church became a
mosque and then a museum in 1934.
From here we discover hidden Istanbul as we enter
a whole new world beneath the city. The Cistern of
Philoxenos or the ‘Sunken Palace’, the water reservoir
of Emperor Justinian was constructed in 535AD.
There are 338 Doric, Ionian and Corinthian columns of
marble, some 30 feet high. At the end of the chamber
we will find two carved column bases featuring the
head of Medusa, the winged creature of mythology
with venomous snakes in place of hair.
Above ground and below it, this is a fascinating
glimpse into the past of a great city.