Turkey: Istanbul – Adventurous Vacation I
Right now I have been sitting on a bench on a railroad station. I am waiting impatiently for our bus to get started on a direction to Istanbul. I will see it with my naked eye, finally! This magnificent city attracts every traveler looking forward to fabulous adventure!
The bus is full and I'm sitting next to a man about 45 years old. Suddenly comes the driver and says something to my neighbor and next to me instead him sits a little Japanese. "Aha," I think to myself, "Muslims do not let the girl sit next to a man during a 12-hour night crossing. Very interesting precautions. The Japanese woman now acquainted, speaks English wonderfully. She went to look at Ephesus in Bodrum, where we set out,. She stayed in Istanbul for two weeks ago in a hostel where she left her main luggage. Immediately she suggested that I can get there also accommodation. After a night crossing, I want to first be captivated by the magnificence and splendor of the city. Then I will spend the night there and the next day I go to other places and then again back by night bus back to Bodrum.
We will go to Big Apple hostel about 5 minutes walk from Sultan Ahmed square – the main in the center. It has Haya Sofia on one corner and the Blue Mosque on the other. My Japanese friend, Naomi, says she has some time, so we can go on tour together. It's nice to meet enthusiastic cotraveler. We annoy people around us little bit as we arrange some details. It's midnight already and most of the people in the bus are just falling asleep, but suddenly there is a break. Usually every two hours to half an hour, so during every break we are putting together our plan. First, we will accommodate and then start at the Blue Mosque, then continue to Haya Sofia, there will be a long queue. Then we cannot miss the Underground Cistern and Hippodrome. The following is a station with Orient Express, Eminonu Square, the Galata Tower . Perhaps we will manage to do it ...
On the following day we start at Topkapi, the Suleyman’s Mosque and a journey on Bosporus. I would like to drive up to the bridge of Mehmed Fatih the Conqueror . With help of the driver our plan is almost ready. We climb back to the bus and continue in our quest. It is very late and my eyes are slowly shutting ...
In the morning, we get a cappuccino and a cake in the bus and as a freebie. Our Turkish bus service copied the services of a certain Czech company . There are lot of companies, so they compete with one another to have more passengers. We went to stay with high anticipations as we set off after breakfast. I did not know where to look first. When we drove with our bus in the city of 17 million people, I was ripped by euphoria. We are finally here!
Now we're on the spectacular Sultan Ahmed Square and head right into the Blue Mosque, beautifully decorated inside and outside as well. I wonder how can a modern architect ever get a prize for his work, when there is such a beautiful building. Built by the famous student of architect Mimar Sinan, who in Istanbul built over 450 buildings. He lived 99 years and worked for the government of three sultans, and neither had his head chopped off. It is said, he came from a Christian family. The Ottomans tended to burst into Christian families and took their children between 4 to 10 years of age. They reeducated them in a way of Islam and left them to study in the palace school. This behavior is called devshirme . And when some of the boys had some special talent, he could pay him. And so it was with Mimar, who became a talented architect. The mosque is 21,000 blue-red-green tiles made in Iznik they produced special shades of blue and red. Mixing the colors have been carefully guarded family secret and no one until these days have revealed their production process.
Inside the mosque is a huge dome supported by four elephants columns with a diameter of 5 meters. The builder Mehmed Sedefkar Aja had a unrewarding task. He had to build a mosque to the 16year old sultan. The mosque had to surpass the beauty of the Haya Sophia that stands directly opposite. Under constant threat of sultan’s anger, apparently Mehmet’s thinking sharpened and aroused his skills to the maximum. His work definitely was great. We go there once again in the evening, because there is a light show when they are illuminated by the different parts of the building itself is a storyteller mosque, which from the loudspeaker tells his story as if it were a woman and not the building. The story is recorded in English, Turkish, German, Russian and Spanish.
We continue to Sultan Ahmed Square and stand in the line in front of Haya Sophia (Hagia Sofia), the most beautiful and the most brilliant building for many centuries. It was even built by two engineers who were not architects and only during construction studied how to properly build their own church. They did it in a record time of 6 years. But they did many errors. The emperor, however was not particularly merciful. And so they had no choice but to correct mistakes and finish the building without errors. When the emperor came to church for the first time, a bit of plaster felt on him. The building had not enough time to “settle “.But still he was totally mesmerized and said: "Solomon, I have surpassed thee!” I think the builders Isidorus and Thales finally were relieved.
Hooray! Finally it's our turn and enter the mosque. It’s wonderful, breathtaking. It's exactly as written in the leaflet. The dome seems captured the magnificence and grandeur of the firmament and windows around the dome are lighten up by the rays of the sun, as in the heavenly temple. One can not even speak, just stares. We sit on the floor, lean your head against a pillar and looking and looking. As if centuries passed in front of one’s eyes. One sees those 1500 years of the church and the mosque immediately! In 1453, after the conquest of Istanbul's Fatih Mehmed the Conqueror added four minarets and turn it into a mosque. The interior again added a large black plates with inscriptions Allah, Muhammad and other major Islamic caliphs. The famous Mimar Sinan at the end of his life said that his whole life trying to overcome this admirable work, but still he failed. We remained in the temple for three hours and still can not get enough of it. I will visit it gladly once again sometimes...
Now we are about to cool ourselves down in the cistern. Istanbul has three sources of water. In this cistern accumulated also rainwater, so the largest city in ancient times had always enough water. With awe we pass by the 336 huge pillars each with the two heads of Medusa, deliberately rotated upside down to not be able to use its magic power and turn us to stone. There's cool, and mild lighting that gives the tank a remarkable atmosphere with a touch of romance ...
To be continued...
Text/photo: Sylvie Halouzková
As we mentioned in the previous, opening article, the most visitors are far from attracting its historic center to Istanbul. Whether it is the Hagia Sophia mosque, the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar, the Topkapi Palace, or just its unforgettable atmosphere in narrow, hilly streets with countless shops. Let's get rid of our article and video.
Right now I pass a shop with ice-cream made in Bodrum. I cant miss this place. I take sour cherry, watermelon, and tangerine called dondrumu in Turkish. I continue slightly uphill to less glamorous neighborhood in Bodrum. I go up until a low white wall that surrounds famous Mausoleum in Halikarnassos.
At the theater once again I try to hitchhike a dolmush and continue to Gumbet, another bay beyond Bodrum. I go there to see the Myndos gate. From there a road to the city of Myndos ran. The gate was on a strategically significant location.
Once again I continue by dolmush to Turgutreis to a memorial to an admiral, and than I walk trough a green park to the port. Then I hitchhike another dolmush and go north to Gümüşlük where the flooded city of Myndos is located.
I wanted to visit Cappadocia, a land of beautiful horses as the Hittites. I bought a ticket bus and rode from Bodrum to Antalya where I slept over. On the following day I rode across the town of Konya where I visited caravanserai (an oriental pub by main roads where members of caravans and their animals ate) and the museum of Mevlana.
We just enter the city of Konya, the capital of former Seljuk empire. I step off from a bus at a bus station. I pick up my map of the city and head to a tower that shows me the way to the museum of Mevlana. The city spreads on a plateau surrounded with mountains.
Many roads cross Central Anatolia. The most famous is the Silk Road. The Sejluks built there traveller’s inns or also called caravanserais to boost trade as it would protect travelling traders.
For many centuries, Anatolia was a center of Chrisianity, mostly thanks to Apostle Paul and his missionary expeditions. His activity took place mostly around the year 41 AD. Christianity spread due to fertile ground it found in Cappadocia.
My journey now goes across ticket barriers to the museum compound, and then to the St Barbora church, who became a Christian against the will of her father. Initially, he imprisoned her and then killed her. Legend has it that he was struck by lightning for this.
I had my balloon flight above Cappadocia at last. In my perspective, it is there where to do such thing is the best. We were at the place at 5.15 in the morning. There were more than 50 balloons being prepared for flights!
The ancient town of Afrodisias is one of Turkey’s most beautiful place, still not many tourists visit it. I decided I have to visit it...
Today I arrive from the historical town of Afrodisias to the small village of Pamukkale often visited by holidaymakers.
Efes is the most preserved antique city in Turkey and it is rightfully one of the most popular spots. This place was known already in the 2nd century BCE. More than 250 thousand people lived there during its greatest time. In the present, thousands of tourists come here to admire what is left of fascinating buildings. Today, you walk with us on its marble pavement.
We have just landed. I take a deep breath. Finally we are at the Bodrum Airport. We get into a bus and 40 minutes later ride downhill to Bodrum. The air has a salty smell of distant lends, colors have numerous shades, and azure horizon seamlessly changes to the sky.
We cruise around the Ortakoy Mosque built by Sultan Abdulmecid in 1853. The construction was done by his architect Nokogos Balayn. It is in the baroque style and it is situated in the European part of the Bosporus. Now we flow under the Bosporus bridge built in 1973 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Turkish Republic.
One of the most important cities of the world – that is Istanbul with its 16,5 million inhabitants. This city is the only one that is located on two continents – Europe and Asia.
The cars on highway from Sabiha Airport, distant from Istanbul city a couple of kilometres, move slowly ahead. So, it is time enough for the first quick acquaintance with the biggest Turkish town and way of life there.
A small town Troy is located in Turkey, in western Anatolia. According to a mythos Troy, the Achaeans founded the town lying on the bank of the Scamander River. In front of the town’s entrance, on the parking lot with many free spaces, in a box office you can buy a ticket required to enter the town.
With so many memories from yesterday we slept so well. Now we are about to have delicious Turkish breakfast, i.e. white cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, bread… And black tea with much sugar. And we are ready to go. It is like we are invited to see the sultan personally in his Topkapi Palace.
Now we go downhill to the harbor. We embark a ferry and choose a bench on the upper deck. Soon the ship set sail. The name Bosporus means Cow ford. According the legend, there live beautiful princess Io in ancient Greece.
Orient – distant, attractive, and spicy land. Just close eyes and you can see it again… Stop thinking about workdays and become absorbed in an atmosphere of One Thousand and One Nights stories in land of bent sabers, reverse half-moon and belligerent sultans. It is a matter of far past when Turks were a menace to Europe and yet people are still fascinated by beauty of Turkey.
Izmir (also known as Smyrna) has been settled for five and half millennia. The city is located in Anatolia along the bay which is connected with the Mediterranean Sea. The location of the city mean it had experienced rule of many civilizations and empires. The last of them, the Ottoman Empire, conquered Izmir in 1389, in the time when it still was a part of the decaying Byzantine Empire.
Lets leave gray everydayness and take off on a flying carpet to the Köprülü National Park. There we will stay overnight in a pleasant camp by a river and on the next day we will move off to the spring of the Köprüçay River. After this we will continue through Antalya and Pamukkale to Dres.
Pergamon King Attalos II gave the city its name after wife of Mysius Telephus, the founder of Pergamon Empire, Hieara. The city has thermal springs, the oldest is named Apollonis, in tribute to mother of a king of Pergamon.
It is another beautiful day, so I plan a journey to visit less-known Turkish sites. Come and visit together with me places as Priéné or half-flooded Myndos.
One of very interesting tourist targets for your holiday relax, there is Turkey. This country, situated on edge of Europe and Asia, has more and more suppositions to meet requirements of tourists. It became very popular thanks to combination of European and Moslem cultures.
Have you ever heard of the Silk Road? Do you know how long it is or its route? We will join one caravan and will see… We won’t start in China where the Silk Road begins because it would take us 9000 kilometers to its end in Istanbul. Except for Marco Polo not many people walked it through whole. Majority of merchants used just were using a part of the Silk Road, from bazar to bazar where they bought and sold goods.
This popular destination is to be found on two continents – Europe and Asia.
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