Sunday, May 27, 2007

ISTANBUL, COLD AND WET...

BEFORE THE SNOW - FEBRUARY 2005

Taking advantage of the Mardi Gras holiday in Portugal and the consequent «bridge» break, we took a flight on a Thursday to Frankfurt, changed planes and flew to Istanbul, where we stayed until next Wednesday. Most of the souvenirs were recorded in video, but there are still a few photos to show on this blog. The weather was not much promising, but what we were going to catch was somehow unexpected... Let's start with some music – Mozart’s Turkish March, as I couldn't find anything from «Die Entführung aus dem Serail» (The Abduction from the Seraglio) seems a good choice!






"SULTAN AHMED MOSQUE AT NIGHT - Thursday evening the sky was clear and the night was cold; but the Blue Mosque was magnificently lighted. The Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul was built between 1609 and 1616, and the architect was Sedefkar Mehmet Aga, one of Mimar Sinan's most prominent students. It is the only mosque in Turkey that has six minarets, which seems to have been reason for some criticism, allegedly for the Sultan's presumption. In fact, at the time, this was the same number of minarets as at the mosque of the Kaaba in Mecca. It's said that the Sultan overcame the problem by paying for a seventh minaret at the Mecca mosque... Each of the minarets has three balconies, and for many years the muezzin had to climb the spiral staircase five times a day to call to prayer. Today a recorded system is used, and the call can be heard across the old part of the city"


"HAGIA SOPHIA by night, before the storm. Hagia Sophia, from the Greek words meaning «Church of the Holy Wisdom of God», was constructed in five years, from 532 to 537, at the orders of Emperor Justinian I, and was the greatest Christian cathedral of the Middle Ages. It was converted into an imperial mosque in 1453, into a museum in 1935, and is now known as the Ayasofya Museum. It is considered one of the greatest and most beautiful buildings in the world. For some reason it is included in the List for the voting of the New 7 Wonders of the World"


"GORGEOUS DINNER at the Adonin Cafe and Restaurant. Located on a picturesque side street in the centre of the historical Sultanahmet, it was found by chance, but seems to be a regular choice for advised visitors"


"LATE NIGHT TEA at the bar of the Four Seasons Hotel, a fantastic hotel created from a century-old neoclassic Turkish prison in the core of Sultanahmet, steps from the Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace"



"CAFE PIERRE LOTI - Friday morning, it was cold and wet. We took a private tour, but it was not easy to stroll outside. The first stop was the Cafe Pierre Loti.
Pierre Loti was the pseudonym of Louis Marie Julien Viaud (January 14, 1850 - June 10, 1923), a French sailor, traveller and writer, who spent some time of his life in Constantinople. In 1876, colleagues persuaded him to turn into a novel passages in his diary dealing with experiences at Constantinople. The result was Aziyadé, a novel which is part romance, part autobiography. The Cafe Loti is situated at the top of a hill in Eyup with a wonderful view to the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus, and it is assumed that this was the cafe that Pierre Loti visited during his stay in Constantinople"


"PIERRE LOTI by Henri Rousseau. I particularly like the paintings from Le Douanier Rousseau, so I couldn't resist to post this image..."


"BLUR PHOTO AT DOLMABAHÇE PALACE - This was the first European-style palace in Istanbul and was built by Sultan Abdülmecid between 1842 and 1853. I don’t have any photos neither from the tour around the western side of the Bosphorus, nor from the outside of the Palace, as it was pouring and we hardly could leave the car... Inside, fourteen tons of gold were used to adorn the ceiling and the world's largest Bohemian crystal chandelier with 750 lamps and weighing 4.5 tons is at the central hall. Dolmabahçe also has the largest collection of Bohemian and Baccarat crystal chandeliers in the world and even the staircases are made of Baccarat crystal. You could see all this, should the photo be a decent one...
After the palace we had to endure a 90 minute carpet show, but at the end we resisted buying and returned safe to the hotel"



"TOPKAPI PALACE - Saturday morning it was freezing and threatening a snow fall.
We started by visiting the Topkapi Palace, literally the «Cannon Gate Palace», the administrative centre of the Ottoman Empire from 1465 to 1853. Its construction was ordered by Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror in 1459 and it was completed in 1465. The palace is located on the Seraglio Point between the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara, having a splendid view of the Bosphorus. It's a fabulous place to be visited and its treasury is absolutely stunning. The Topkapi Dagger, the 86-carat Spoon maker's (or Pigot) Diamond, the Emeralds and many other pieces shown are outstanding in its beauty!"


"TOPKAPI: THE GOLDEN CAGE! The Golden Cage was the place where the brothers of the sultan were imprisoned to prevent them from seizing the throne.
One may spend a whole day at the Topkapi, strolling around and inside the pavillions of the four courtyards. There is even a very nice restaurant - The Konyali (1897) - serving a menu consisting of traditional Turkish meals and desserts, where we had lunch. And, further to the Harem, the Treasury, the Porcelain Collection, the Chambers of the Sacred Relics, the Konyali... we also visited the Archaeological Museum on our way out!"


"HAGIA SOFIA - After the Topkapi and the Archaeological Museum, we entered AyaSofia. The walls, from the ground up, are covered in identical manner: plaques of red, yellow and green marble blend with the mosaics, and these are further embellished by the capitals, imposts, architraves and friezes. A large number of mosaics were uncovered in the 1930s by a team from the American Byzantine Institute, but due to its long history as both a church and a mosque, a particular challenge arises in the restoration process"


"WALK - There is a nice walk from AyaSofia to the Sultan Ahmed Mosque. A freezing sun was glowing, but some snow had already fallen"




"BLUE MOSQUE - DAYTIME. According to Wikipedia, «Blue Mosque may refer to six different mosques: the Rawze-e-Sharif Mosque in Mazar-e Sharif, Afghanistan; the Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Mosque in Shah Alam, Malaysia; The Blue Mosque of Tabriz, Iran; The Blue Mosque of Cairo, Egypt; The Blue Mosque of Yerevan, Armenia and The Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey!»
The cube structure of the Mosque is topped by a system of domes, culminating in the central dome, which is 33 meters in diameter and 43 meters high. At its lower level the interior of the mosque is lined with more than 20,000 ceramic tiles, handmade at Iznik, while the upper levels are painted. There are more than 200 stained glass windows to let natural light in and the decorations include verses from the Qur'an. The floors are obviously covered with carpets"

29 comments:

Sigma said...

A great post!!
Turkey is a place I have read about a little, though not a good deal. And from whatever I did, it sounded a very interesting place, with an old-world kind of charm. So I thoroughly enjoyed reading and seeing more of it.
Too bad the weather was not very favorable. And I wish you had more pictures to post here :-D

niki sato said...

oh i wish i can visit Istanbul!!
blue mosque is new to me. soooo very beautiful!!
and your wife is photogenic!!

freefalling said...

That was fun!
I really liked the accompanying music. It was great to see Turkey - the suburb I live in, in Melbourne has lots of people from Turkey.
I loved the portrait by Rousseau.
Do you have any posts on Malta or Iceland?

Peter said...

First, thanks for your kind comments on my blog!

I decided to take a day or two "off" from blogging, but there were some sites I wished to look at, including yours - as you had announced that something on Turkey would follow. ("seda" must be very happy when she reads your blog.)

As usual, a very complete and interesting report. When you visit, you do it well and you try to understand what you see. I like this very much. Photos may be nice as such, but I appreciate also, and maybe particularly, the story behind them.

I already told "seda" that I must visit Turkey, which I have unfortunately not done so far. Your "reportage" confirms my wish!

I like also very much your reference to Pierre Loti, a fantastic personality, globe-trotter and very good writer, completely in love with Stambul (and also, passionately, with a young Turkish lady) and he returned regularly. ... and also the reference to "le Dounaier Rousseau".

Very interesting reading.

Peter said...

Just fyi, I did not work on my own blog today, but I took some time to look a bit closer on yours. Impressed by your "weekend work"! I saw also your visit to Paris learnt a lot - and got some ideas about future subjects.

You are really a globetrotter - and with the right spirit!

Trotter said...

Sigma
Turkey is sure a very interesting place to visit. This post is only on Istanbul, but one day I'll try to get to the Asian side... Anyhow Istanbul, a crossroad of cultures, is a wonderful city, with thousands of years of history, and lots to see and enjoy. I still have some photos for a new post, but one day I’ll get back in summer!

Hi Niki
Thanks for the comment. Guida also thanks for the compliment!

Freefalling
Thanks for the visit and comment. Next time in Australia I’ll visit Melbourne. It goes back to my 1956 memories – Dawn Fraser, Adidas Melbourne and the first Olympic Games I’ve read about in the press…
I’ve been in Malta in May/June 1999, but have only one Conference photo of that stay. I’ve also a one and a half hour video, but that’s unsuitable for a travel blog. I’ll probably make a text post on Blogtrotter 90s, just to draw the attention to a certain Manoel (or maybe two), who was the 66th Grand Master of the Order.
Iceland is on my list, for a summer trip, but now I’m much more sedentary than I used to be. It was to be last year, but I haven’t given up…

Peter
Thanks for your visits and comments. I think your Paris blog is absolutely fantastic, and enjoyed a lot your last «expedition» in Montmartre. I’m pleased that you found my posts on Paris of interest and look forward to seeing your new ones.
For some years I was travelling a lot (slept roughly at least 150 nights abroad every year). Now things are much quieter and I must confess I miss it… That was also one of the reasons why I started the Blogtrotter(s); travel blogs with memories from five continents (friends from US would say Six Continents)!
But even with globalization, it’s not such a small world… There are so many different places to see, so many different people to know, so much to do. It takes much more time (and that’s something you cannot borrow) than the time needed to hear the «Brilliant Editions» (they are brilliant, no publicity) of Bach’s “Gesamtwerke” (160 CDs) or Mozart’s “Intégrale” (170 CDs)… Paraphrasing a proverb from Salvador da Bahia’s docks, quoted by Jorge Amado in «Pastores da Noite» (Shepherds of the Night), “One cannot visit everyplace on Earth, but one ought to make an effort…”

April said...

Oh, I see, rain everywhere, almost in the whole of Europe. Nevertheless you have managed to show us some interesting photos of Istanbul and the rain doesn't seem to have done any harm on you.

I answered 'Füchschen' at my blog.

Kalyan said...

Some beautifully captured shots from a beautiful place & it was nice to view all the shots with the descriptions.

ruth said...

Thank you for your visit to Flying, and the timing is perfect, as I'm visiting your blog the first time when you've posted about Istanbul, where I lived 3 years back in the '80s! I'm on dialup at home, and I'll check out your photos and the music better at work tomorrow. ;)

Ash said...

I've been intrigued by Istanbul after reading Orhan Pamuk's books.

Beautiful images, thanks for sharing!

Dsole said...

Istambul is one the places I need to know soon! Is one of my very first must-be-visited soon... thank you for the photos!!!

Trotter said...

April, it's amazing but I think most people that visit Düsseldorf will drop by at Im Füchschen and have an «Alt»...

Thanks Kalyan and Ruth.

Ash, now that you mention Pamuk I've to find out where did I leave the last book from him that I bought...

Dsole, it’s a good choice. I’ll get back there for sure...

isabella said...

What stikes me about your photos is the pure joy in your companion's (your wife?) and your face...
"I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move." ~Robert Louis Stevenson
I find this quote befitting your blog ;-)

Seda said...

First of all, thank you for your lovely comments on my Istanbul blog...

You have great pictures here...I loved them all and all the history is just great. You did a good job introducing my city :) but I wish you could visit in spring or summer time.
It is much more fun to wonder around...

Thanks again...

Trotter said...

Isabella, you're perfectly right. Guida and I love to travel for the travel's sake; so Stevenson's quote is entirely adequate. I also love Benjamin Disraeli's quote: "Like all great travellers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen". It could also be Chatwin, or the quote from a Portuguese poet (Fernando Pessoa, maybe borrowing from Francesco Petrarca) «navegar é preciso, viver não é preciso». The common translation is: «to navigate is needed, to live is not needed...»; some say however that the correct translation should be «to navigate is precise, to live is not precise...».
Anyhow, «navigate» is compulsory...

Seda, Thanks for your comment. I promised myself to get back with a better weather... and to visit the Asian part of Turkey!

lv2scpbk said...

Nice happy photos and I really like the painting too. I love those folk art looking paintings.

Trotter said...

Thanks lv2!

Andrea Gerak said...

Wow, awesome!!! Istanbul is one of the places I would definitely like to go back. Thanks for the reminder and for the descriptions.

Maybe I can find my old photos from 1983...

Trotter said...

I'll have to go back, since the snow storm made it a bit difficult to enjoy the city; but even without the storm I think it's worth while return to Istanbul...
I'll love to see your pictures from 1983...

Sigma said...

I enjoyed seeing the new additions of the photographs. What a storm! And what a place. I am rather fascinated by snow, having lived in northern India and seen snow just once, and that too long after it had fallen down :-)

Trotter said...

Sigma,
Thanks! Snow may be beautiful, but I don't think it quite matches with urban life... I would have preferred to see Istanbul on the sunny side...

Sigma said...

Of course! Snow might be considered as beautiful by someone like me, but it does not let one appreciate the beauty of the place, specially the urban ones, as you say.

Trotter said...

Sigma,
you're not the only one to find snow beautiful; the question is when and where to find it, and whether things are prepared to run smoothly even with the snow...

Saturn said...

I wish if i can share and invite you to view 3D Models of Blue Mosque here.

Jay

Trotter said...

Jay,
thanks for the hint. The 3D are stunning!

Nihal said...

Hi again:) This morning I was digging some, and guess what I found?! Wonderful wonderful write-ups and all fascinating pics from your Istanbul travel. Like a treasure all published here! Actually I did not expect to read such an impressive travel notes but you did. Thank you so much indeed. One thing missing.. a Bosphorus cruise you had not? Its highly adviced to take it in summer months:)

Trotter said...

Nihal,
Thanks! I very much appreciated your comments. That's exactly what I missed under that snow storm: the Bosphorus cruise!

sultanahmet said...

East and west meets in Istanbul.
Thanks for sharing.

Trotter said...

Sultanahmet,
No doubt!!