Best Western Empire Palace Hotel Sultanahmet Istanbul
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    BW Empire Palace Hotel
    This is the true spirit of Istanbul- welcoming and pleasing! No matter if for a business trip or a family holiday, the loveliest and most convenient place to stay is this S-Class Hotel. Built in the 17th century, Best Western Empire Palace is an old Ottoman house set 400 meters away from the domes and minarets of the Blue Mosque. The Boutique hotel offers comfort and pleasure for all kinds of travelers.
    Hagia Sophia is the most renowned Byzantine cathedral and the best known Christian church in Istanbul. The church of the Divine Wisdom, the first church of Hagia Sophia was planned by Constantıne the Great, but it was built by his son and heir, Constantius . For almost a thousand years Hagia Sophia served as the cathedral of Constantinople of the Byzantine Empire.The name, Hagia Sophia, means sacred wisdom.
    The first church, Hagia Sophia, was built between the years 337-361 A.D. Construction was begun during the reign of Constantius, son and successor of Constantine The Great. The church was destroyed by a fire on 20 June in the year A.D. 404.
    The second church of Hagia Sophia was rebuilt by Emperor Theodosius. It was completed in the year A.D. 415. The second church was burnt down during the Nika revolt in the year A.D. 532.
    The third church of Hagia Sophia was rebuilt between the years 532 and 537 by the Emperor Justinian . An earthquake damaged the structure in A.D. 558. It was rebuilt by the young Isidoros.
    Hagia Sophia has been restored several times during the Byzantine and Ottoman period. On the Turkish Conquest of Istanbul. Sultan Mehmet The Conqueror entered the city on 29 May 1453. The Conqueror lead the first Friday prayers and ordered it be converted into a mosque. Four minarets of the building were placed at different times after the Conquest. The southeastern minaret was added during the reign of Sultan Mehmet II,the northeast minaret by Beyazit II and the two minarets were added by Murat III. The major restoration to the building was done during Sultan Abdulmecit's reign in 1847, by a Swiss architect Gaspar Fossatio. Mehmet the Conquerer added the mihrab and Suleyman the Magnificent donated the two gigantic candles on each side of the mihrab. The building was used as a mosque until 1934.
    For almost five hundred years after the Turkish Conquest it served as the imperial mosque of Istanbul. Hagia Sophia served as a mosque during the early years of the Turkish Republic, then declared a national monument and converted into a museum by the order of Atatuk on 24 October 1934.

    The structure was known in Byzantium as the basilica Cistern, Justinian was the founder of the largest underground cistern, built after the Nika Revolt in 532.The number of the inhabitants of Constantinople increased and bring a problem of water supply. Basilica Cistern was used to store water for the Great Palace among the other buildings on the Firth Hill. During the Justinian time, After the Conquest the water in the Basilica Cistern were used for the garden of Topkapi Palace. It is 140 meters long and 70 meters wide. The twelve rows of 28 columns each, 336 altogether, capacity of having eight thousand cubic miters water. Basilica Cistern was restored in 1980.

    Excavations which began in 1935 by Prof. Baxter. The fragments of the mosaic pavements which we will see were once part of the Great palace.
    The mosaics belonging to the palace are from the fourth and fifth century A.D. The mosaics are extremely tactile in effect, among them are the figures of a lion devouring a lizard, a stag entwined with a snake, a woman giving breast to a child, the combat of a spear bearing hunter and tiger, a child feeding a donkey, a young girl carrying an amphora, a camel with children mounted on its back, and a monkey pacing a banana from the tree.

    The Palace of Ibrahim Pasa, the grandest private residence ever built in the Ottoman Empire was completed in 1524.
    Ibrahim was appointed grand Vezir and the following year he married Suleyman's sister, Hatice.
    Unlike many palaces of the period, it was constricted in stone. The palace was restored 1983.
    Considered to be one of the most important examples of Ottoman civil architecture, it is now a museum of Turkish and Islamic art, exhibiting a collection of 40.000 objects including fine oriental rugs, Seljuk and Ottoman woodcarvings, Turkish folk life clothing, rug and kilim looms, showing the weaving and dying techniques. The museum has a conference room and a Turkish coffee house serving coffee or tea.

    The Archrological Museum, the jewel of the city with antiquities collected from all over the country and stored in one building, was constructed between the years 1891-1908 by the architect, Valaury. It is one of the most important arceological museums in the world and it was Turkey's first museum,. Before its opening all valuble antiquities were brought to Istanbul and exhibited in the church of Hagia Eirene.
    The collection consists of archeological pieces from the period 2500B.C. to 500A.D. On display are Greek, Roman and Byzantine architecture and sculpture, earthware, bronz and glassware. coins and medaillions. The most valubable object of the collection is The Alexander Sarcophagus which originates from the 4th century B.C.
    Alexander Sarcophagus Discovered at Sidon by Hamdi Bey in 1887. The sides of Sarcophagus are decorated with interesting almost round relief showing Alexander in a lion hunting. The battle scene with the Macedonians are sculptured in a sportive fashion.
    Sarcophagus of the Mourning Women
    Mourners grieved for their loved ones in an interesting fashion.Professional mourners were hired and these eighteen women can be seen on the sides of the Sarcophagus .You will notice the figure of a child which gives additional importance to the deceased.
    Alexander's Tomb
    This amazing monument is decorated with reliefs on all four side. Greco Persian wars are represented. Alexander is shown with a lion's pelt over his head, mounted. On the other side there is a scene of a lion with a stag in combat and a hunting scene on the other. This sarcophagus is also in the form of a Greek temple dating from the last quarter of the fourth century B.C.

    Sidmara Sarcophagus
    During the Roman period in groups of reliefs showing gods of mythology.

    The Lykian Sarcophagus
    Lykia was located in soutwest Anatolia. It shows reliefs of two carved sphinxes and a lion hunt is shown .

    The Tabrit Sarcophagus
    Tabrit, King of Phoenikia died after the conquest of Egypt. Tabrit's corpse was mummified and laid into the coffin.

    The Church of the Holy Savior of Chora, called in Turkish, Kariye Camii, is, after Hagia Sophia, the most interesting Byzantine church in the city. Not so much for the building itself, pretty as it is, but because of the superb series of mosaics and frescoes which it preserves and which have been magnificently restored and cleaned by the Byzantine Institute of America. The name of the church,"in Chora" means "in the country" because the very ancient monastery to which it was attached was outside the walls of the Constantinian; later when it was included within the Theodosian walls, the name remained the Holy Savior of Chora.
    The church of The Holy Savior in Chora (Kariye Camii) is the most important monument of the Palaeologan age. Its unique iconographic programme, the quality and beauty of the mosaics and wall paintings, make it one of the outstanding masterpieces of Byzantine art.
    The origin of the monument cannot be traced with certainty. The earliest reference is found in the Synaxarion (Legendary) of 4 September by Symeon Metaphrastes, according to which the relics of St. Babylas who was martyred in 298, were removed from the Golden Horn to the northwest part of the City, at a place outside the walls where there is a monastery called Chora.

    An anonymous 9th century biographer assigns the foundation of the monastery to St. Theodore, uncle of the Empress Theodora, whom Justinian had called to Constantinople to help the Church in the struggle against the sect of the Theopaschites (536). Theodore settled outside the walls at Chora, where there was a small church.

    With the assistance of the Emperor and Empress, Theodore founded the monastery. Destroyed by an earthquake in 557, it was rebuilt by Justinian, this time larger, with a domed church revetted in marble, consecrated to the Holy Virgin. At the same time were built three parecclesia, dedicated to St. Anthemius, the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste and the Archangel Michael, and also a bath and a hospice, i.e. a wholecomplex of buildings (Gedeon).

    Tradition has it that St. Savvas (439-532) travelled from Palestine to Constantinople and was given hospitality at the monastery in Chora. Thenceforth, monks from Palestine were always welcome.

    Nicephorus Gregoras, who lived at the monastery and wrote its history in the 14th century, records that it was founded by Justinian. On the other hand, the historian Procopius remains silent on this point.

    Be that as it may, it would appear that the origins of the monastery in Chora can be traced back to the 3rd century, and this is why the site was considered sanctified.

    The name of Symeon, abbot of the monastery in Chora, appears among the participants in the 8th Ecumenical Council of Nicaea (787), which restored the veneration of icons.

    Phone : 0090 212 514 54 00
    Fax : 0090 212 514 54 10
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    Adress : Hocapasa Mah. Hudavendigar Cad. No:19 / Sirkeci - Sultanahmet / Istanbul, TURKEY
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