My employers offer a generous flight allowance, but they have the 48 hour rule. That is that I can stop over and see somewhere new but there must be less than 48 hours between arrival and departure. So I decided on a day in Istanbul. It was 80 Euros but I decided on a walking tour as I did not rally have the time to get my bearings, but wanted to see as much as possible in just a day. Using a guide meant that we dd not need to queue for tickets and the guide knew some short-cuts between the main attractions.
Hagia Irene and Topkapi Palace
Hagia Irene is one of the few churches in Istanbul that was not converted into a mosque due to it being used as an arsenal instead. However the cross on top of the dome was replaced by a crescent moon by the ottomans. It was undergoing restoration work so the photo opportunities within the church were very restricted. It is in the outer courtyard of the Topkapi Palace.
Topkapi Palace was the residence and headquarters of the ottoman sultans. At the end of the Ottoman Empire in 1923, it became a museum.
Hagia Sofia Grand Mosque
This was originally built as a Christian cathedral during the Roman empire but later became a mosque. Although images of humans are almost never found in mosque architecture, the depictions of Mary and Jesus remained uncovered in the mosque of Hagia Sophia until 1739. They were at one time plastered over but then restored when the building became a museum. Now that it is again a mosque, they are hidden by drapes. Christian mosaics can still be seen in the southwestern entrance. There is a certain amount of contention between what Christian aspects should be restored and what overlying Islamic scriptures removed in the process.