I only had about four hours to explore Istanbul, before having to head back to the airport, but managed to get the Metro into the city without any problem, and wandered around the Blue Mosque, which is huge.
After that I crossed the road and went down into the The Basilica Cistern, which is fantastic. It is an underground water starage facility built by the Romans in the Seventh Century. Going down the steps from street level reveals a huge cavern, 140m long and 70m wide, with a roof over 9 metres high supported by 336 columns, 12 rows of 28 columns.
It is the most amazing place to discover underneath a city, even more-so considering when it was actually built. I could have wandered in there much longer, it was so quiet and atmospheric, until two huge tourist groups arrived.
I seem to remember seeing this place in a James Bond movie, I am pretty sure it is “From Russia With Love”, starring Sean Connery as Bond, James Bond.
A quick Turkish coffee, and a bite to eat and it was time to travel onwards. I will definitely be back to spend more time in Istanbul, it looks like a wonderful city.
Next stop Nice, in the south of France.
Yes, the cisterns were featured in the Bond film From Russia With Love. In fact, there were many locations around Istanbul featured in this film. Most notably, a major scene was set at the Hagia Sofia, part was set at Istanbul train station, and Bond took a boat trip up the Bosphorous passing in front of many famous sights alongside the river.
A fantastic city.