Soul of the Garden

Images of Turkey

 Istanbul - Views of the City

A view of the historic heart of the city from the "first" bridge across the Bosphorus that joins the European and Asian sides of the city. In the distance you see the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia, and the tower of the Topkapi Palace.


A little tighter view.


Looking up the "Golden Horn" the ancient harbor of the city, with the Beyazit Tower and Sulimaniye Mosque. (From the Asian side.)


A telephoto view of the Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sophia - this was the site of the acropolis of the Greek colony of Byzantium, the settlement that predated the founding of Constantinople (by about 800 years.)


The "first bridge" between Europe and Asia.


Looking across the Golden Horn to the Beyoglu District with the Galata Tower on the left. Taken from a roof top near the Grand Bazaar where we listened to the call to prayer echoing from fifteen or more mosques at once - an unforgettable experience.


A tighter view of the New Mosque and the Golden Horn.


This is the only shot I got of the old city land walls  (taken from a speeding van.)  For history nerds like me, these walls are truly legendary - they saved the Byzantine Empire and perhaps Western Civilization itself from countless assaults. Built in the 300's, they were only taken by force once - in 1453 when the Ottomans finally took the city using a new invention - siege cannons.


Tourists filing into the Grand Bazaar.


Bazaar district crowds.


Inside the Grand Bazaar - an overwhelming shopping experience.


Approaching the "first bridge" from the European side you get a magnificent view of the Bosphorus.


One of the skylines on the Asian side of the city. Taken from the living room of one of the families that hosted us for dinner.




The Sulimaniye Mosque at sunset.


The Sulimaniye Mosque at sunrise.


A detail from the Egyptian Obelisk that the Romans erected in the Hippodrome, the ancient 100,000 seat stadium that used to sit next to the royal palace and the Hagia Sophia. Only a few fragments of the stadium survive, though its form is echoed in a park where the obelisk and other monuments stand.


The obelisk from a distance.


Another detail.


The base of the Egyptian Obelisk is supported by a massive piece of marble carved with images of a Roman Emperor and his entourage. In the background there is another obelisk built by the Romans. It used to be covered in copper, but the copper was stripped off and melted down by the Crusaders when they sacked the city in 1204.


A fountain built in the late Ottoman period with funds from Germany - a gift from the Kaiser to the Sultan.


A lonely column from the archeological dig now going on at the former Byzantine royal palace. The palace was destroyed by Christian Crusaders during the first sack of the city in 1204 - one of the worst acts of vandalism and destruction in western history and the blow from which the Byzantine Empire never recovered. The crusaders stormed the city's weak sea walls with the help of Venitian ships and then ransacked the city, which burned for four days. The crusaders stole everything of value they could find and carted it off back to the west. No wonder there was an old saying in Constantinople: "Better the Sultan's turban that the Pope's mitre."

Inside a small mosque in the Sultanahmet neighborhood.


A friendly group of boys we encountered while in a parking lot. The children all across Turkey loved saying, "Hello!" Often, their only English, but it always seemed heartfelt.


We saw little boys dressed like this everywhere and only later learned that they were "celebrating" their impending circumcision! The day before the operation they are dressed in these military style costumes and visit mosques and other prominent sights. As we experienced in Urfa, there is usually a big party thrown for them the day before as well.


Enjoying an evening in a park.


A whimsical little mosaic that I spotted on the rooftop near the bazaar where we listened to the call to prayer... completely hidden from view on a rather forlorn looking wall.

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