Several buildings all around the mosque once housed shops
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, alms houses and other establishments that serviced the requirements the faithful. These now include the Arasta Bazaar, a good shopping area for crafts, which within the Mozaik Miizesi (Mosaic Museum; Tue-Sun 9am-4.30pm; charge).
This shelters a superb stretch of mosaic pavement, once is really because hall of Justinian's Byzantine imperial palace. Not uncovered until the mid-20th century, the mosaics are having splendid condition and colourfully depict flora, fauna, scenes from mythology and, with some degree of pomp, the occasional emperor. The nearby Hunkar Kasrr (Carpet and Kilim Museums; Tue-Sat 9am-noon and 14pm; charge) has a fine collection of historic carpets. Should you be in spired to possess such a carpet for yourself, have a look at the staterun Turkish Handwoven Carpets Exhibition involving Haseki Hamann (Tue-Sat 9am-5.30pm; free), a bathhouse built by Sinan in 1556 for Roxelana, favorite wife of Siileyman the Magnificent.
Just opposite the blue Mosque is the Hippodrome, site within the 100,000 seat stadium that for much of Istanbul's history hosted chariot races, circuses and other entertainments, as well as mass assemblies and an occasional outburst of public violence. Workouts here, in 1826, that Sultan Mahmut II oversaw the slaughter of the Janissaries, his dangerously powerful and disloyal royal guard. Little remains of specific structure, but many of its monuments continue to grace a large greensward at the centre of what was once the chariot track. These include the Yllanh Sutun (Serpentine Column), taken through your Temple of Apollo at Delphi, the Orrnetas or Column of Constantine VII Porphyogenitus, and the Dikilita (obelisk of Pharaoh Thutmose) that Byzantine Emperor Theodosius appro priated throughout his conquest of The red sea.
Under the Byzantine and Ottoman empires, the Aya Sofya and the Blue Mosque were flanked the sumptuous palaces of the powerful elite. On the western edge within the Hippodrome, the 16thcentury stone Ibrahim Pasa Sarayi (Ibrahim Pasa Palace) is now home to the furniture, carpets and other hold ings on the Turk Ve Islam Eserlei Muzesi (Turkish and Is lamic Arts Museum; TueSun 9.30am-5pm; charge), which gives a satisfying take an Ottoman lifestyles. The tenant for whom the palace is known as was an onetime confidant of Siileyman the Magnificent who, like so many, fell out of favour and was strangled.
A little further along the road, the Yerebatan Sarayr (Underground Palace or Basilica Cistern; daily 9am 6.30pm; charge) is one of the many vast water tanks the Byzantines built, often reusing older Greek masonry, be certain the city can supplied with water during sieges. Coloured lights and piped music lend a somewhat ersatz air to this vast underground space, however the columns and elaborate arches reflected associated with rippling waters provide an eerily fascinating place. The space is used for concerts during cultural festivals. The Bin birdirek Sarrucr on nearby Klodfarer Caddesi (the Cistern of 1,001 Columns; daily 9am6.30pm for sightseeing; charge refunded if you eat in the restaurant) is an even older 4thcentury cistern, with 264 columns in spite of your name.
Near the Topkapi gate, the Arkeoloji Mi.izesi (Archaeolo gical Museum; all sections TueSun 9.30am4.30pm, last ad mission 4pm; a single charge covers all three museums here) will permit you to put things in perspective. An exhibit on Istanbul history nicely explains the city's Greek, Roman, Byzan tine and Ottoman past, and gathered here work best examples of statuary and other artefacts from Troy, Ephesus, Aphrodisias and known as other important archaeological sites throughout Turkey. The star exhibit is the magnificent Alexander Sarcophagus from Sidon.
The complex also includes the Eski $ark Eserleri Miize si (Museum of the traditional Orient), which houses some as tarnishing artifacts, including the world's first surviving peace treaty and the gateway of Babylon. The nearby Cinili Kok (Tiled Pavilion) was built in 1472 as an imperial sports pavil ion. It is included inside in colourful iznik tiles, with the other Ottoman ceramics displayed.
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