Appreciation – Istanbul Trip Pt.2 – Marble Tombs

It has been several weeks since my last post, and I really do apologize. This is due to the fact that my hard drive was malfunctioning, and all of my photos and necessary data was stored within that hard drive. It was only recently that I can use it again ; apparently, I had to use it on a Mac first before it can be used again on my Windows PC. Strange, but it happens.

Anyways, I would like to continue on my series on my trip to Istanbul almost two years ago. It has been long overdue, so lets go ahead and carry on the conversation!

After visiting the Blue Mosque and performing a prayer inside, the proceeded to visit another landmark in Istanbul, the Beyazit Mosque, which is only a few minutes away from the Blue Mosque using the trams available passing throughout the Old City of Istanbul. Before going on to the tram, we visited the cemeteries and tombs around the Blue Mosque and Aya Sofya, which apparently a popular spot for graveyards, given the proximity to the nearby major mosques. Also, due to the closeness and the popularity of the cemeteries, most of the dead buried here, as I observed, are those of noted people, those of high ranking and those who, during their lifetimes, close confidant of the Sultan, back in the Ottoman era.

As a result, all of the tombs I seen in this area are exquisite pieces of work, done in elegant marble, carved delicately and beautifully, reflecting the social statues the deceased once held.  It is also notable that the tombs seems to be of a more recent ones – 19th to 20th century – which I find a bit odd, given the history of the area (the place where the Ottomans first went to when they seized Constantinople) I though there would be more older tombs and cemeteries. The decorations were typical Islamic-Turkish kind- Arabesques, Geometric patterns and Islamic Calligraphy

DSCN0436.JPG  One of the Marble tombs in the cemetery decorated with beautiful Arabesque flowers.


Another marble tomb, shaped like a casket a Muslim deceased would be carried in prior to burial. This one has carving of a arabesque style infinity knot flanking a calligraphy of the Bismillah (In the name of God) in the middle.


As most of the tombs were inscribed with old Ottoman Turkish, so it is quite hard to know who lies underneath the marbled facade of the tombs. This one features a carving of a tome, a scroll, a globe and quills, among other things, on the side of the tomb. Perhaps the deceased was a scholar?

DSCN0442.JPGThis tombstone features a sail, perhaps signifying the deceased Naval career during his lfetime. One of the reason I could not read the inscriptions on the tomb is the fact that they are written using the Nasta’liq calligraphy – one of the hardest one to be read. Here, I can only make out the Huwa Baaqi on the top of the gravestone, and the year which is 1306AH, or 1888AD


Plain gravestone with delicate acanthus leaves on the sides of the tomb. Older tombs and gravestones tend to have Turbans for men and flowers for women carved on them. However, this plain gravestone features none of that. Perhaps a shift from tradition, or perhaps a symbol of modernization ?

DSCN0451.JPGThis lower, humbler grave features three holes – One for a small flowering shrub to grow on, and another two holds water. I have been told that the water bearing holes are for birds and other animals for them to drink and bathe in. It is believed that this is an act of charity for the animals, and the spiritual reward would be then hopefully transferred to the deceased ; a charity beyond the grave.


A ten pointed star carved on one side of a tomb among a bed of Arabesque flowers – an embodiment of Islamic art in one setting.

DSCN0487.JPGThe author posing in front of the birdcage tomb, where the collection of tombs and graves are located