Europe Sightseeing International
Sights & Attractions in Florence (Italy)
Florence (or Firenze in Italian) is the largest city in Tuscany, and is home to a wealth of famous art pieces and incredible architecture. My review of the city is based on a recent day trip there as well as a previous visit a few years ago. On both occasions we arrived into Florence via its main train station, Santa Maria ... Novella. This is a huge station but it's only five minutes walk to the first main sights of the city, and if you were on a whistle-stop tour, only 10-15 minutes to the Duomo.
The city is very navigable on foot, the main tourist sights all within about half a kilometre of each other. Across the road from the station, the "Hop-on-hop-off" Sightseeing buses were boarding, if that's something you prefer for city visits. To me, these seemed very expensive at 20 Euros per person, albeit for a 48 hour ticket, considering that most of the "main" sights are in pedestrianised areas. It would be a good option if you were staying within the city and would take you to some of the less-visited areas of the city.
The Duomo is Florence's most iconic building - this cathedral with its dome and campanile dominating any skyline image of the city you are likely to see. The façades of the buildings are every bit as captivating and memorable, with striking panelled stonework, and a pair of incredible bronze-pannelled doors to the adjacent Baptistery.
Entrance to the Duomo is free but be prepared to queue - we queued 20 minutes to get in, my parents queued 15 minutes on a different day. To access the Baptistery, the crypt, to climb the dome and the campanile, a ticket is required which costs 10 Euros.
Inside, we purchased an audioguide which cost 4 Euros each. The commentary is number-coded and can be replayed as often as you like, so one between two would actually have sufficed. I also needed to pay 1.50 Euros for a disposable poncho to cover my shoulders and legs (I'd gone in a vest and shorts, and forgotten to take cover-ups.) Women are required to cover their shoulders and legs in places of worship in Italy, and men are also supposed to cover their legs, although most shorts for men, and long shorts for women seemed to be fine here.
At the time of our visit some areas inside appeared to be cordened off, and for me the outside was a far superior sight than the inside. The painting on the inside of the dome was very interesting, though, especially with the audioguide explaining its meanings and what was being depicted. The audioguide was supplied with a leaflet indicating which items were being described, and highlighting some points which would add up to making a one-hour visit. In total, our visited lasted a little over an hour without visiting the crypt.
The Piazza della Signoria
This Piazza is home to a replica of Michaelangelo's statue of David as well as other famous scupltures, including The Fountain of Neptune and Perseus with the head of Medusa. These names meant nothing to me until I saw them and realised that I recognised them. Everyone in the square is trying to compose their own perfect photograph of David, so it makes for a pretty hectic scene, but it's something you just can't help doing yourself! There are cafes and bars on the square to take a breather.
Just off that square is the Uffizi gallery. We visited the gallery as part of a guided trip on our previous visit to Florence. It's essential to book, but in my memory it is well worth doing, with many recognisable and incredibly famous works. Our visit lasted less than an hour and cost us 6 Euros each, representing something of a whistle-stop in truth, but looking online and doing a quick price calculation it is showing 15 Euros per person plus an online booking fee, so certainly something to check out first. Judging from the size of the gallery and considering the amazing works we saw in our short visit, that price would actually represent good value if art is something you enjoy - it would be easy to spend a long morning or afternoon there.
This bridge over the Arno river is edged on each side with fine (very expensive!) jewellery shops. The buildings are ancient and the path is cobbled, this is really an enchanting bridge although incredibly busy. At the top of the bridge it is open on both sides giving great views up and down the river, a lovely photographic opportunity.
Aside from the main sights, we spent several hours exploring around the streets following routes in our guide book. This took us all around the south side of the river, a little more off the beaten track, where it was far quieter yet no less enthralling in terms of the hidden churches, palaces, squares, streets and buildings. If you have time in Florence then the south area is well worth an explore, there are also some attractive looking parks/gardens there, which we didn't really have time to fully appreciate on our visit.
The one other building which I would definitely recommend a visit to is the Church of Santa Maria Novella, near the train station. The stained glass in there was breathtaking. Entrance cost 5 Euros (3.50 for concessions) so we were 'umming and ahhing' whether to go in, but I'm so glad that we did.
Bars and cafes are plentiful although we decided to stay on the go in order to see as much as possible. We bought pizza from one of the many "Forno's" and chose badly, that was the only unpleasant thing I bought to eat during my week in Tuscany, but that's the luck of the draw when there are so many to choose from, I guess. Nevertheless, pizza slices were only 2 or 2.50 Euros and beers and coffees were not extortionate (4 and 1 or 2 Euros respectively from what my parents reported back) - Florence doesn't feel like a city where they are waiting to "sting" their visitors.
Public toilets were few and far between, but the ones we used in the ticket office for the Duomo and next to Santa Maria Novella were staffed and spotlessly clean, costing 1 Euro each.
The downsides of Florence are very few. Silly things like a lack of places to sit within the city centre (apart from bars/cafes), and there being few public toilets would be the only things I'd really pick up on. Overall the city is very clean and feels safe, with the main sights all relatively close together making it a great "day out". It's just that it's so incredibly busy with huge organised parties following their respective umbrella'd guide milling through the narrow streets, something you can't get away from in such a fantastic city which everyone wants to see. I would love to visit Florence for an overnight stay or short break to be in the city when the crowds (such as me!) have returned to their neighbouring towns or cruise ships. Seeing the artworks, statues, buildings, Piazzas and River illuminated is something I'd really love to return to do.
~Summary... Plan your trip!~
Florence is a gorgeous city to visit with sights and buildings that will take your breath awawy. Its airport is served by all London airports as well as Southampton, Cardiff, Dublin and Edinburgh - although as far as I can establish, this is only via major airlines rather than budget airlines. Otherwise the city is on a direct rail line from Pisa which would take around 1.5 hours, Pisa being served by most UK airports and budget airlines.
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Sights & Attractions in St. Petersburg (Russia)
Saint Petersburg, Russia Myself and my family recently went on a Royal Caribbean cruise (our fifth) and this time we went to Scandinavia and Russia, as none of us had never visited the ports/places before (12 night Scandinavia and Russia cruise, on the Brilliance of the Seas). We went to Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki, Saint ... Petersburg (two days), Tallinn, Gothenburg - all of the places, apart from Saint Petersburg, were only one day. As we didn't have/buy visas we went on tours with Royal Caribbean, it is the only way if you don't have a visa to pass through immigration. In total for the two days, we went on three tours with Royal Caribbean. Here is my two day experience of Saint Petersburg!
- Brief history
The city of Saint Petersburg on the banks of the Neva River was founded by Peter the Great in the early 1700's. During the great northern war between Sweden and Russia, Peter the Great and this troops were defeated initially but with allies in Poland and Denmark the balance of power shifted to Russia and the war ended with the signing of the Treaty of Nystad in 1721 - in which Sweden relinquished power over to Russia and Russia claimed back territories including Saint Petersburg. Peter the Great (Peter I) was one of 16 siblings and he declared himself as Tsar at the age of 17 - he had great plans for the new capital which at the time was swamp land. Convicted labourers, serfs, prisoners of war, engineers and architects built the new capital and the design of the city was inspired by Amsterdam. After Peter's death, an heir and the fate of the capital were unknown and a power struggle began between Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Peter the Greats grandson, Peter II, moved the capital back to Moscow, however the capital was changed again back to Saint Petersburg by Peter the Great's niece, Anna Ivanovna in 1732. As well as the location of the capital and the balance of power, the name of Saint Petersburg has also changed numerous times from: Saint Petersburg to Petrograd (to sound less German, during the war), then to Leningrad (after Lenin the Russian leader) and then back to Saint Petersburg in 1991. Saint Petersburg is Russia's second largest cities, it is home to the Hermitage (one of the largest art museums in the world), it is an important port for Russia and the majority religion is Russian Orthodox.
- Immigration and port terminal
When we docked in the morning we could see the city and the port terminal (a lot of posters and banners around advertising the G20 summit that was taking place in Saint Petersburg, we went there about a week or so before the summit). The evening before we arrived in Russia your stateroom attendant leaves Russian immigration documents in your room for you to fill out, you take them with you to the port along with your passport because if they are not filled in or you don't have them you cannot enter Russia - you have two sides to the document, one for entering and one for leaving but it is just the same information repeated. We needed them for the first day but we didn't for the second, just our passports were needed, as the passports had been stamped (the only stamp I have in my passport). We disembarked the ship with our passports and immigration/travel documents and arrived in the port terminal (about a minute walk from where our ship docked) and we had to queue for about fifteen minutes or so before we had to go up to the (very high) desk to give our passports and immigration documents for inspection.
We went together as a family of four and the first thing I notice being only 4ft 10inches approx. is that the height of the desk was very high so that was slightly embarrassing but we received our passports back (with a stamp in it) and half of the immigration document. Myself, my sister and my dad received our passports back with no problem at all but they seemed a little concerned with my mums passport and the staff member kept checking the passport, then the computer and then he must have called for someone to come over and double check (it was a little bit tense, well for my mum, the rest of us were fine!) but after a couple of minutes they let us all through. Overall, immigration took about 20/25 minutes (so you need to get off the ship to catch your tour/bus earlier than normal to compensate) but on the way back the queue moved slightly fast (even though the queues back in were really long). A couple of people, including RC staff, were rejected and could not enter Russia which must have been awful because Russia was the highlight in my opinion.
The port terminal was quite nice, clean and there was a small café (although you need Russian Rubles to pay), there are souvenir shops (quite a lot) and there was a currency converter which has handy because we didn't have any rubles - you can only buy from in Russia and the ship didn't sell them either. However, the currency machine didn't work so we couldn't get anything to eat at the port (the souvenir shops accepted dollars, euros etc). There were quite a lot of tourists and guides moving in and out of the port terminal and there was a very limited number of seats which wasn't great. Also because we didn't have rubles, and the machine wasn't working, my dad and sister had to go back through immigration to get some food for themselves but we didn't have a lot of time because we booked one tour after another and they were late for the tour - we did hold up the tour for about ten minutes, although it seemed a lot longer!
- First tour and travelling around the city (coach, walking)
So the first tour we went on in the morning was the walking tour of Saint Petersburg with an interior visit of the Spilled Blood Church. We pre-booked the three tours for Saint Petersburg a month or so before the cruise, because we thought they would sell out really quickly - and they did. For this cruise, we had to book excursions really quickly because they would sell out so quickly, which is something we haven't experienced on any other RC cruise. We got a coach into the city which was fine, and the drive was only about ten to fifteen minutes from the port to the city and our guide was really nice (all of our guides were good and all female). We got off the coach at the Field of Mars (I think there are also parks/areas called the 'field of mars' in France and Greece). The Field of Mars/Marsovo Polye is a park/green space in Saint Petersburg - it is named after the Greek god of war. Sticking with the theme of change, the field of mars has changed quite a lot since its creation at the beginning of the development of Saint Petersburg and it has changed names quite a few times, like the city. The park contains the 'eternal fire' which we saw and it is a controlled flame that is always burning, it is surrounded, it is not just left open. From the park we saw the amazing spilled blood church which looks incredible and very colourful.
From the field of mars we walked along the pavement and we crossed a few roads and one thing I noticed is that there were timers under the lights counting down - they count down and tell you how long you have to cross the road, this isn't for all road, just main ones which I think is great - some give you about 40 second but others are only about 20 seconds so you have to hurry. The roads cross the Moyka River. We got to another green area across the road from the field of mars where there is a statue of Pushkin which is in front of Michaelovsky Palace which is a museum - the Russian state museum. There were quite a few people walking around the green area and quite a few tourist groups. We didn't go in the museum and you couldn't get close to the building because of the gates but it did look really impressive, actually I think the museum was closed on the day we went. From there we walked to a souvenir shop, on all of the tours we they took us to a couple of souvenir shops all of which we pretty much the same. Also while crossing one road to the souvenir shops there were trams lines on the road and being from Manchester where there are a lot of tram lines on the roads in the city centre we are used to it but my mum was taking a picture and she fell (so embarrassing!) but our guide, Anastasia, did warn us! We bought some things from the souvenir shop (it was the first one we went to and over the course of two days we ended up being taken to about six, two of which were really big!). After the souvenir shop we walked to the highlight of the tour, the church of our saviour on the spilled blood which is close to the field of mars and the museum and it is also close to Nevsky Prospeckt, the main street in Saint Petersburg.
- Church on the spilled blood
We walked up to the church of the spilled blood and it was just amazing - the design, colours and the gold on the building, it looked like something out of a Russian fairytale. There were quite a lot of tourists, although nowhere near as many as other famous churches I have been to around Europe. The tour we booked included entrance fees to visit the church so we met in with our guide and she had a microphone (we had ear phones on so it wasn't disturbing anyone else). As we walked in it was really quite crowded as the entrance is small and there are guides/staff inside the church already as well as an atm machine! The church is breath taking from the outside and the inside; it is covered in bright vivid mosaics of religious figures. Every single wall is covered with brightly coloured mosaics or with gold and gemstones of some kind. The church has different name but it is called the spilled blood church (or a variation on that) because the Russian emperor Alexander II was assassinated on that spot and they decided to build a church on that spot. I have visited many churches and cathedrals (on royal Caribbean cruises and holidays in England) such as Saint Peters Basilica and the rock church in Helsinki, as well as churches in Copenhagen, Palma, Gothenburg, Slovenia, Italy and England - but this church has to be the most colourful and it looks quite mysterious and other worldly.
Our guide did walk us around (although it is not very big inside) and she was explaining the history although I was too busy taking photographs (which you are allowed to do) and just looking at the amazing sites! There is one story that our guide told us which did stick - during the war the church was damaged (there is an area of text on the outside of the church with what I imagine are bullet holes/impacts from shells to show the damage that was sustained by the church) and a large shell fell onto one of the big domes where an icon/figure of Jesus is and the shell got stuck half way through the dome and it looked like Jesus was holding the shell and stopping it from destroying the church. I thought that we quite a good story and along the icon/figure theme - there is one mosaic in the church of a We walked around and the church is kind of split into the section where the people would stand (there are no pews as I believe that for Russian orthodox churches, the custom/rule is to stand) and then an area that is separated by a screen/door. The screen/door was covered in gold and brightly coloured gemstones and as the sun shined through the windows the door appeared to be glowing and it just looked incredible. We spent about half an hour or so in the church and on a travel site that I looked at before we went away said that the time to explore the church should be approximately two/three hours so I thought we were going to have to run around but we had plenty of time! You do not need two/three hours, because it isn't that big on the inside and there are a good amount of tourists coming in so it can get a bit busy too! Overall, a must see sight and it is near quite a lot of the other main sites such as the Russian museum, nevsky prospekt and the field of mars.
- Souvenir shops and markets
After the walking tour or any of the tours we were usually taken to a souvenir shop - some of which were an average size but some of them were massive, warehouse like buildings filled to the brim with souvenirs such as key rings, matrushka dolls/Russian dolls, gemstones (mostly amber), vodka, magnets and many others items. In the other countries we visited it wasn't like this, for example in Helsinki there were little souvenir shops and stalls in the main areas of the city where all of the tourists were but in Russia there didn't seem to be any little souvenir shops near the main areas - it was just big warehouse like buildings away from the city centre - well, apart from a small market like section of stalls across the road from the spilled blood church. In all of the souvenir shops the staff were nice, the buildings were clean and well laid out, there were exchange rates listed and you could pay in numerous currencies such as euros and American dollars, we paid in euros. We did buy quite a lot of souvenirs from Russia, more than the other countries we went to and I bought a Russian doll, key ring and notebook which didn't cost a lot at all really but overall with all of our souvenirs we ended up spending a good amount in Russia. The only other souvenir place that wasn't like a warehouse pound land (the best way I can describe them, although the product seemed to be of really good quality) was the market next to the spilled blood church which we went to again on the second day in Saint Petersburg. The market had quite a lot of small stalls with the same kind of items that we saw the previous day but some stalls had a lot of Christmas items (as they did in Finland) with wooden Santa's and Santa Russian dolls which we did buy for around 8 euro.
- Restaurant: Pectopah Tponka
We went to a restaurant at the end of one tour (on the second day, after the metro) and it was called pectopah Tponka - I believe Pectopah means restaurant - I can't find this place online. The restaurant looked gorgeous from the outside and from the inside; it was so lush and lavishly decorated! The waiters were dressed in traditional Russian folk clothing and we were given bottled water, fresh orange juice, tea (Liptons yellow label) and three Russian pastries which were really nice. When in the tour description it said tea break I only expected a small thing but it was a great little stop off and it is a lot more than I expected it to be. I am a coffee drinker/addict and I hate tea but I tried this one and I did really like it, along with the pastries. The décor was just gorgeous inside the restaurant and apparently it is one of the best restaurants in Saint Petersburg according to the royal Caribbean description of the tour - the tour was called 'local life experiences' or something along the lines of that. My mum and sister went to the bathroom in the restaurant and I would really bring this up in a review but it is quite unusual - the bathroom/stall doors were transparent - you could see the outline of people using the lavatory! It is really strange and quite a funny story to tell but the rest of the place was fantastic.
On the local life tour we got on a coach at the port (it was our second tour that day and we almost missed the coach) and it dropped us off next to one of the metro stations. We booked this tour as my mum said that the Russian metro is really amazingly decorated with mosaics and paintings and I didn't really want to go but I didn't want to waste any time on the ship when I could have been exploring Russia so we went. The guide gave us each a coin to use in the turnstiles at the start of the metro and it worked fine for most but it didn't for others. We had ear pieces (not really earphones, as they were quite big and just for one ear) so we could hear the guide and the guide had a paddle with our group number on, along with royal Caribbean logos on - so we did get some strange looks as we walked to the metro station and while we were in the station as I imagine it would be a bit strange for the local people to see a group of tourists with a guide in a metro station! I felt slightly uneasy as the guide kept saying everyone stay together because the metro doors close so quickly, don't get lost and she said that if you lose your passport then you will spend a minimum of one week in Russia (depending on whether your country has an embassy in Saint Petersburg). We got on the escalator to go down to the platform and the escalator was really quite steep, slightly noisy, very busy and it went on for a long time - some parts of the metro in saint Petersburg go down 300ft! After what seemed like half on hour on the escalator we arrived at the platform which was really quite busy! We only had to wait for the train for about a minute and we got on and myself, my mum and my sister managed to get a seat and the tour group stayed together - the carriage we got on wasn't very busy. Then the train started to go, the doors did close quickly and you definitely wouldn't want to get stuck in between!
The train was really, really loud, rickety and it didn't seem very stable - it moved around quite a bit and you could see the carriage in front weaving slightly on the tracks, it isn't like the trams/trains in Manchester that's for sure. We stayed on the train for about five minutes or so and then we got off (very quickly, my mum was pushing us as she didn't want us to be stuck on the train) and we got on another which was basically the same just very busy so we had to stand. We were on the red line metro and one of the platforms we were on is 'vladimirskaya'. We had to stops and we got off the train, again quickly, as the doors do shut very quickly and there isn't a button to open the doors. There is the time displayed at the archway above the train and underneath the time is the time is has been since the last train was at that platform - not very useful and our guide joked that maybe in ten years they will show the time it will be until the next trains gets to that platform. We went on another long, steep escalator (and again we got some confused looks) but at the top of the archway after the escalator there was a bit and quite amazing mosaic which seemed really out of place in the metro. Overall, it was an experience and some of the experience was slightly scary/nerve wracking but I am glad I went on the metro in Russia.
Overall, before I went on this trip to Russia, I had images in my head of what Russia would be like and what Russia people would be like. I thought as Russia as a mysterious place shrouded in fairytales, secrets, remains of the royal family and reminds of the cold war and to some extent it was like that. There were remnants of wars with some of the buildings showing shell/projectile damage and battleships and submarine that we saw and the churches with their colourful, unusual design and history added to the mystery. Also the hermitage/winter palace and stately homes of a time long past show the remains of Russia's royalty and the grandeur of Russia. For me the grand buildings, history, churches, landscape and culture were more than I expected and I would definitely visit Russia again (although knowing Russian will definitely help as about 90% of signs etc are in Russia - very little is in English). I would love to visit Moscow and I hope this review has shed some light on my experiences of Saint Petersburg, Russia. I would also like to go back to Saint Petersburg because I would like to go into the hermitage (although you need a couple of days to see everything in the hermitage) and I would like to see the palaces in and around saint Petersburg.
*History, sights, culture
*The spilled blood church
*The metro was an experience and I am glad I went on that tour
*Lots of souvenirs to choose from and they are at good prices too - and you can pay with numerous currencies in all of the souvenir shops we went to (free samples at some shops - vodka anyone!)
*Tours we went on with Royal Caribbean were great as were our Russian guides
*Clean city, good amount of green areas, lots of sights - eg: parks, museums, shops, churches, palaces
*You can only buy Russian rubles in Russia and also the currency machine in the port wasn't working
*Immigration was a little bit unnerving but everything was fine and the only thing that would deter me from going back to Russia is that you need a visa and I think even with a visa you need to go as a group/tour
Thank you for reading my review - if you have any questions just leave a comment
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Haghia Sophia (Istanbul, Turkey)
The Hagia Sophia (also known as the Aya Sofya) is one of Istanbul's must see attractions. Situated in the Sultanahmet district of the city, it is close to the Blue Mosque and the Topkapi Palace and the T1 tram line. Admission is TL25 (£9) for adults. Under 12s are free. We arrived about 12.30pm and had a short wait to purchase tickets. ... My guide book (Lonely Planet Istanbul) was very good and I used that as an idea of what I wanted to see.
The Hagia Sophia is almost 1500 years old. It was commissioned by the Byzantine emperor Justinian and consecrated as a church in 537. Architecturally it is a very impressive building, moreso inside rather then out, and was the inspiration for many other buildings in the city including the blue Mosque. There were a lot of religious mosaics commissioned but when the church was converted to a mosque in 1453 by Sultan Mehmet, many of these were covered up (rather than destroyed, thankfully). The minarets were not added until the sixteenth century. In 1935, President Ataturk declared it a national museum.
The main part of the ground floor is what was the original nave. When I visited much of the left side was covered in scaffolding and I believe that has been there a number of years as a colleague visited a few years ago, and it was still the case then. As busy as it was, it is still visually impressive as most of the work is above your head. In each corner of the dome in the nave is a mosaic image of, what I think, are angel wings. Apparently these are seraphs, a six winged angel. When first done they would not have had faces, as this was not the done thing at the time, and one I was looking at (through my camera zoom) had a gold pattern on instead. The original mosaics would have been glass with gold leaf and as the building is quite well lit, certainly would have gleamed. As some of these were destroyed, they have been recreated as frescos. Later mosaics (post ninth century) had faces on them. Be warned when taking a photo of the dome above your head, that it is quite awkward to get a central shot of it, especially one in focus!
There are a number of windows in the building and the chandeliers hang low from the high ceiling keeping it very well lit. The chandeliers were likely from the Ottoman period, they would have used oil lamps originally.
Upstairs you can see further mosaics and frescos. I was quite impressed with the differing patterns on the marble (see picture) but on closer inspection, some of these designs have been painted on. One important mosaic, of which very little survives is to one side (South) of the upper galleries. It depicts the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist and Christ. There is a painting next to it, which shows how it should have looked.
You are allowed to take photos without flash throughout the Hagia Sophia. As the building is generally well lit this is not normally a problem. Many of these later mosaics show the an emperor with Christ. For example there is one with Emperor John Comnenus (apparently) and his wife Irene either side of the Virgin Mary with a baby Christ giving blessings in return for donations to the church. This is 13th century.
One of the more famous mosaics is the 11th century Christ Enthroned with Empress Zoe and Constantine IX. Empress Zoe was one of very few Byzantine women who ruled in their own right. The original picture depicted her first husband, upon his death, Zoe erased it and replaced it with her new husband. He also died and Zoe ruled in her own right. However as a weak ruler she wed again to Constantine and it is he that we can see today. He remains, no doubt, because he outlived her. This is quite a hard mosaic to get a good picture off as it is in a dark corner with a window behind it on one side meaning the light isn't very good.
Another significant one is the Virgin and Child in the apse at the very front of the church. Not an easy one to get a good angle for a photo, as it the closest point you can get to it, is by leaning around a wall by the aforementioned mosaic of Zoe (above) or by using a zoom lens from some distance away. The original mosaic and background comes from the 9th century and has been heavily restored.
One mosaic I was keen to see, as featured in my guide book, was that of Constantine the Great, the Virgin Mary with baby Christ and Emperor Justinian. I had trouble locating it in the Hagia Sophia but it is as you exit, and will be behind you (they have a mirror above you so that as you walk out you can spot it). The idea was probably that you see it as you go in, but it is exit only here now. It depicts King Constantine offering the baby the city of Constantinople (Istanbul's original name) and Emperor Justinian offering the Hagia Sophia and was dome in the 10th century.
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit here. If you love this period of history and its architecture then this is a must see. Even if you don't, it is really interesting to see a building so old and (relatively) well maintained. Some members in our party thought it looked a bit shabby compared to the more modern Blue Mosque, but the latter was built about 1000 years later. They have a café on site and a gift shop, I didn't visit either. Neither are things that Istanbul is short of. Allow 90 minutes
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Europe Sightseeing International
Sightseeing Type: Churches / Sightseeing International / Temples / Address: 35 rue du Chevalier de la Barre / Paris 18e / Tel: : 01 53 41 89 00 - ""The Sacré-Cur Basilica (French: Basilique du Sacré-Cur, "Basilica of the Sacred Heart") is a Roman Catholic basilica and popular landmark in Paris, France, dedicated to...
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