Some photos from Istanbul:
Sultan Ahmet Square used to be the Hippodrome (hippos = horse, dromos = path), where Constantine held his horse racing. Now only a few fragments of the original Hippodrome survived, and the whole complex was converted into a square. In the square there are several monuments and buildings, and one of them is the German fountain, given by Wilhelm II, the last emperor of German, in 1900 after his visit to Istanbul. The Germans and the Ottoman Turks became pretty good friends then, they became allies in the first World War, and lost the war together.
Every Sultan has a mosque built under his name and this is Sultan Ahmed’s. Blue Mosque is its popular name for tourists.
Hagia Sophia is the first church built by an imperial order. It was dedicated to the Second Person of the Trinity, and named as Holy Wisdom. In Hagia Sophia, most of the frescos have been scraped by the Ottomans except the image of Mary and baby Jesus on the center – and a few more upstairs. The inscription on the left of what used to be the altar reads Muhammad and the right reads Allah. So, Muhammad, Mary and Jesus, Allah.
After the Ottomans conquered Byzantium in 1453 and changed its name to Istanbul, they took over Hagia Sophia, the original patriarchal basilica of the Orthodox church, and changed it into a mosque. Nevertheless, the Greek Patriarch never left Istanbul and he kept his patriarchate in the city, perhaps to symbolize the central status of Constantinople/Byzantium for Eastern Orthodoxy (it’s like the Pope leaving Rome, won’t happen right). He then moved to a smaller facility for the patriarchate.