We duck down to the right of the Galata Bridge, into the fish market. It’s loud, smelly and wet. I’m not sure what you were expecting – it is a fish market. We double back and at the entrance is a street vendor selling fish sandwiches. Our Aussie neighbors raved. We get one to go, walk onto the bridge with it’s views of the Old City, mosques crowning the hills of Istanbul. The fish sandwich is delicious, the view comparable.
Across the bridge, the New Mosque is open. We enter the courtyard, pause, breathe. At the cistern in the middle, Muslim men wash their feet and arms in preparation. We make our way to the entrance. Ali Sun covers her head, we put our shoes in a plastic bag, and enter the mosque.
We pass the sequestered Muslim women in the back, walk up to the low barricade and sit behind the musalla, where perhaps a dozen Muslim men are scattered, praying or conversing quietly. The mosque itself is spectacular, with great arches, a domed ceiling and adorned with gold and color.
It is peaceful inside. A really lovely gentleness fills the prayer hall. It is not overly joyful, nor is it overly serious. We sit for some time, taking it in. Separately, we each take a few minutes to walk around the edges of the musalla and take a few photos.
We exit the mosque, enter the Spice Market. It is not long before closing, and perhaps not as busy as it certainly gets. If we owned a home, we might easily spend a month’s wages furnishing a living room solely from the exquisite Turkish goods on display.
On the way out, we make a reservation at Pandeli, one of two restaurants inside the market, a birthday meal very thoughtful gifted to us from S&N.
We wander down side alleys, and circle back to Galata Bridge, taking in the sunset as the amber lights of the mosques flicker on. Ali Sun makes it her mission to enter the seven mosques on the seven hills. Istanbul is clearly a city of great wonder and enchantment – a divine feminine presence rising from the patriarchal dynasties that have occupied her for millennia.