My friend, Husam Azhar, commented on the beauty of Turkey, to which my friend, Neil Remington Abramson, responded. Neil comments further, as follows (e-mail correspondence reproduced with permission):
The Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia are both very special. The latter was originally a Christian cathedral, built by Emperor Justinian. When the Turks took Constantinople in 1453, it was converted to a mosque, but is now a museum, and the original Christian frescoes are being exhumed from under the paint that covered their human images during its mosque period.
The Topkapi Palace Museum contained the bones of John the Baptist, a holy relic from the Christian period. Oddly, they are not pictured in the museum catalogue, nor is one allowed to take their picture. I tried; the guard knocked my camera down; it turned out later I got the picture. I wonder why such a holy relic would be retained by the museum and not returned to Christendom.
Mohammed’s sword was also in the Topkapi. It was very impressive.
I loved Istanbul. I would go back without hesitation and with enthusiasm.
Addendum, January 25, 2015: