Modern day Turkey


MAY 2004

Turkish Flag

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Istanbul, a city of 16 million people, is the only city on 2 continents, stands on both shores of the Bosphorus where the waters of the Black Sea mingle with those of the Sea of Marmara.  The Golden Horn divides European Istanbul in two.  Istanbul has been the capital city for three empires, and has always been a link between East and West.   

We need to go back to this fantastic city, as we only visited the small section around the Golden Horn, called the Sultanahmet District, missing the trip up the Bosphorus, missing visiting the Asian part of the city, missing having a Turkish bath, missing a majority of the museums that contain the relics of the past, and missed sitting with Ali and his wife Gulgun for that glass of Chayi.  But what we did see and visit, and the people that we met were just fantastic and another reason to return.

When Caesar split the Roman empire and moved to this city, he renamed it to himself, Constantinople, and wanted it to be just as Rome, with a Hippodrome next to the palace.  The three obelisks were put in after the site was no longer the Hippodrome area.  

This obelisk is also known as Theodosius' column after Emperor Theodosius (390 AD).  On the base in which it stands, 3 of the sides are dedicated to himself, and one to his wife and family, a lady not liked by the masses.  This was made for Pharoah Tutmosis II who had the obelisk set up in lower Egypt in 1547 BC.  It is made of Egyptian pink granite and is in the form of a square pyramid which tapers toward the top. Hieroglyphics are on the sides glorifying himself and his son.

This is of serpents inter-twined, which was brought to this city by Constantine the Great from the temple of Apollo in Delphi.   Records as late as the 16th century show the snake heads in place.  Many believe this has something to do with the symbol of medicine.  The heads were broken off and one is in the Archaeological Museum in here in Istanbul.

This was covered in metal (copper, bronze, or gold) plates and believed to contain art pictures depicting the victories of Basil I, the grandfather of Constantine VII (867 - 886).  But the second crusaders captured Constantinople instead of passing through it to proceed to the holy lands.  They ruled the city for a few years. While they were there they took the plates melted them for use in the mint.  The holes are where the metal that was holding it together was also dug out.

Probably one of the most photographed buildings in the world, the Blue Mosque gets it name from the blue Iznik tiles, as shown on the right.  Built in the early 1600's it is still in use today and the only mosque with 6 minuets.

Blue Mosque Blue Iznik Tiles give Blue Mosque it's name.
The entrance to Topkapi Palace

There is one room in the Palace with nothing but silver gifts.  This is a very detailed steamboat, all done in silver.

silver ship
The entrance to the residence portion of the Topkapi Palace.  When the Sultan met with the common people he would sit here, as they were not allowed into the residence.  The under part of the ceiling was most ornate, and that is not gold paint but real gold leaf. Another ornate ceiling for one of the building inside the residential area of the palace.
Have a seat lets talk under the gold roof. ornate ceiling
This is the circumcised recovery room for the Sultan's sons.  This is the same blue Iznik tile as found in the Blue Mosque.  This is the entrance into the council chambers, where the Sultan met with his chief of staffs.
circumcisum anyone? Council Chambers - real gold.
An internal view of the Council Chambers.  If the Sultan didn't want to participate, he would sit behind the wall and listen thru the grate. From the rear of the residential palace, this view looking across the Bosphorus to the Asian part of the city.
Sultan Council Chambers Looking across Bosphorus
From about the same spot as the above photo, is looking up the Golden Horn.
Panorama of Golden Horn fromTopkapi Palace
This is the Saint Sophia, now a museum.  It was first a church built by Constantine in the 4th Century.   When it was converted to a mosque in the mid 1400's the brick minuet was construct within the first week of conversation, then the other 3 were added later. Inside the St. Sophia, actually know as the Haghia Sophia Basilica, are many Christian mosaics.  These were white washed over when it became a mosque.  When it was converted to a museum in the 1930's the white wash was removed revealing these mosaics.
Haghia Sophia Basilica or St Sophia Museum One of many mosaics inside the St Sophia
Inside the upper floor of the St Sophia

The moisture means the fresco must constantly be repaired and crews are working continually on the interior.

Second floor of Sophia Museum inside the Sophia Museum
Inside the mosque of Suleyman the Magnificent, Gloria asked these ladies if they could all be in a photo together.

Shoe shine stands during a rainy day.

Gloria and 2 friends Shoe Shine Abi???

The end of the line for the 'Orient Express'.  The Istanbul train station.  From here travelers would be taken to the Bosphorus to cross to Asia on a boat, then loaded on other forms of transportation to their destination to the east.

Istanbul Train Station The last stop in the Orient Express
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