Muvakkithane – Istanbul
This small enclosed garden includes the tombstones of – among others – Sultan Ahmet III who inspired a tulip mania among the Ottoman elite between 1703 and 1730. Opposite to these tombstones sits a small polygonal building called the Muvakkithane. This was the residence of the astronomer of the Yeni Mosque. Astronomers were needed in mosques because the Islam uses a lunar calendar and an astronomer could calculate exact prayer times. The astronomer also read the horoscopes of the Sultan and his Viziers and, towards the end of the Ottoman Empire, was the watchmaker of the neighbourhood.
The Grand Bazaar (Kapalıçarşı) in Istanbul is one of the largest covered markets in the world with 60 streets and 5,000 shops, and attracts between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily. It is well known for its jewellery, hand-painted ceramics, carpets, embroideries, spices and antique shops. Many of the stalls in the bazaar are grouped by type of goods, with special areas for leather, gold jewellery and the like. The complex houses two mosques, four fountains, two hamams, and several cafes and restaurants. In the centre is the high domed hall of the Cevahir Bedesten, where the most valuable items and antiques were to be found in the past, and still are today, including furniture, copperware, amber prayer beads, inlaid weapons, icons, moth er-of-pearl mirrors, water pipes, watches and clocks, candlesticks, old coins, and silver and gold jewellery set with coral and turquoise. A leisurely afternoon spent exploring the bazaar, sitting in one of the cafes and watching the crowds pass by, and bargaining for purchases is one of the best ways to recapture the romantic atmosphere of old Istanbul. Opening Times: Monday to Saturday 9:00 -19:00. Closed Sundays and bank holidays.
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