[Travel] Turkey: Istanbul Part 1
Wow…when I booked our most recent trip to Turkey, I had no idea what to expect. My husband and I recently took a 1 week vacation to Istanbul and Cappadocia (1 week is too short btw for this amazing country) and was blown away by the beauty, the melancholy of the fallen city, the novelty of the muslim culture and mosques (novelty for us as this was our time seeing a mosque, let alone stepping inside one. The call to prayer btw was fascinating), and the deep Christian history, etc. just to name a few.
For those of you who are new to Turkey and its history, Turkey sits on 2 continents, Europe and Asia and is divided by the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul. Istanbul was once the capital of the Roman Empire (which was moved here from Rome by Constantine in 330AD), fell to the Fourth Crusade in 1204, then eventually taken over by the Ottoman Empire in 1453. This is when Sultan Mehmet II, the Conqueror, marched to Hagia Sophia and converted the church into a mosque. As the capital of the Ottoman Empire, Istanbul then entered a new golden age with a long and celebrated decline which was accelerated by the capital’s occupation by the Allied Forces after WWI.
I mention the history and geography because I think they’re both very important to defining and understanding Turkey. My husband and I only barely brushed the surface with our short trip but our observation was that the people seemed both European and Asian, the churches/mosques seemed both Islamic and Christian, the country seemed so sophisticated yet so underdeveloped at the same time, which to me was fascinating.
I don’t think any photo would do the country justice but I document our trip here for your reference and teaser until you are able to make the trip yourself :)…let’s start with a few photos of the streets of Istanbul and Bosphorus Strait. Also in this introduction are the Blue Mosque and Basilica Cistern.
This is a historical mosque and is known as the Blue Mosque for the more than 20,000 handmade blue tiles that adorn the interior walls. Built from 1609 to 1616, this is still an active mosque today and also a very popular tourist attraction.
Perhaps the most unusual structure in Istanbul, this underground water reservoir served as a water supply solution from the 6th century. It comprises more than 2 acres and 336 columns over 8 meters high that support its ceiling. It can hold 18 million gallons of water. One of the most interesting things of the Basilica Cistern are the two Medusa heads used as column bases at the end of the cistern, one upside down and one on its side. Both the positioning and origin are a mystery.