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Thirteen-Day Turkish Treasures

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S: 13-Day Turkish Treasures


FC: Thirteen-Day Turkish Treasures 3-15 September 2012

1: TURKEY | TÜRKIYE | ARRIVED 04 SEP 2012 | lies in both eastern Europe (THRACE) and western Asia (ANATOLIA). Ninety-eight percent of the population is Muslim, but the Turks are very western. Turkey is even attempting to join the European Union.

2: On 3 September 2012, we embarked on our journey to Turkey, which boasts more Greek ruins than Greece and more Roman archaeological sites than all of Italy. Our adventure will circumvent western Turkey.

3: Join us as we take in the culture of Istanbul, relive the ancient Homeric epic at Troy, behold the sacred sites near Izmir, soak in the healing waters of Pamukkale, relax in the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean coast at Antalya, experience the natural wonders of the Cappadocian landscape, and discover the Turkish capital of Ankara.

4: THE OLD CITY OF ISTANBUL is a peninsula bounded by bodies of water to north, east, and south (the Golden Horn, Bosphorus, and the Sea of Marmara, respectively) and by the old city walls to west. This is the part of the city that used to be called Constantinople. Istanbul’s first settlement dates back to about 8000 years ago, which makes the city one of the oldest still-inhabited spots of the world. | ISTANBUL | was Constantinople. Now its Istanbul, not Constantinople. Been a long time gone, Constantinople. Now its Turkish delights on a moonlit night . . . | Istanbul Days 2-4 (4-6 SEP 2012)

7: Istanbul has served as the capital for four Empires: the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Latin Empire, and the Ottoman Empire. Today, along Istanbul's narrow streets, in addition to traffic, you can see street vendors with simit piled high, intricately carved Egyptian obelisks, and the minarets of copious mosques.

8: SULTANAHMET MOSQUE | was built from 1609 to 1616. It is popularly known as "The Blue Mosque" because of the over 20,000 blue tiles lining the ceiling. Another notable feature of the mosque is its six minarets. Legend has it that the Sultan wanted "altin" (gold) minarets and instead received "alti" (six) minarets. This is still unique as most mosques have one, two, or four.

10: Hagia Sophia | (Ayasofya) or Church of the Holy Wisdom was originally built as a Christian church in the fourth century by Constantine the Great. It remained a functioning church until 1453 when Sultan Mehmet conquered Constantinople and converted it into his imperial mosque. It served as the principal mosque of Istanbul until it was converted to a museum by Atatürk in 1935.

11: After being inside Hagia Sophia, it is clear why it is considered to be more wondrous than the Blue Mosque. Along with the beautiful artistry, one of the notable sites is the Miracle Column of St. Gregory. It is said that if you can rotate your thumb 360 degrees in the indentation on the column, a wish will be granted.

12: THE MOSAICS INSIDE HAGIA SOPHIA Despite Crusaders shipping holy relics back to Venice during the sack of Constantinople in 1204, many mosaics still exist at Hagia Sophia. Luckily, when it was converted to a mosque, rather than destroy the remaining mosaics on the wall, the Muslims instead plastered over them. They were rediscovered during restorations in 1847, but were not fully uncovered until after Mustafa Atatürk declared Hagia Sophia should become a museum. Pictures here only show a few of the many mosaics adorning the halls of Hagia Sophia. Emperor Justinian I and Constantine the Great presenting the Virgin Mary and Child Christ with a model of Hagia Sophia and the city. This mosaic dates back to 944. A 1261 mosaic of the Virgin Mary and Saint John the Baptist imploring Christ for the salvation of man; also known as a Deesis mosaic. Jesus Christ on a throne of jewels. Emperor Constantine IX offering a purse and Empress Zoe offering a scroll, symbols of their donations to the church; dating from the 11th century.

13: sydney harbor bridge | THE BASILICA CISTERN or Yerebatan Sarnici is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that lies below Istanbul. It was built in the 6th century and continued to provide water to the Topkapi Palace into modern times. The cistern has the capacity to store 100,000 tons of water. The bases of two columns in the cistern are Medusa heads: one inverted and one sideways. The orientation is believed to negate the power of the Gorgon's gaze. The cistern has been featured in Hollywood films such as the 1963 James Bond film From Russia with Love, and more recently in the 2009 film, The International. It is also featured in the 2011 video game, Assassin's Creed: Revelations.

14: Istanbul Archaeological Museum

16: was the primary residence of the Ottoman Sultans for approximately 400 years. It is located on the Seraglio Point overlooking the Bosphorus. The palace contains collections of Ottoman jewels and weaponry and, purportedly, Muhammad's cloak and sword, among other religious artifacts. | TOPKAPI PALACE

18: 2 TL | THE NEW MOSQUE (Yeni Cami) was built from 1597 to 1663. | The Grand Bazaar and Egyptian (Spice) Bazaar are the two largest covered shopping complexes in Istanbul.

19: While leaving Istanbul, we could catch a glimpse of an ancient aqueduct at the edge of the city. Later in the day, we sampled some local fare - a fish sandwich, pistachios, and dondurma (Turkish ice cream) - before boarding the ferry at Gallipoli to cross the Dardanelles into Anatolia.

20: may be best known as the setting of the Trojan War as described in Homer's Iliad. Homer's Troy was most likely Troy VII. There were a total of nine layers of ruins dating from 3000 BC to the first century BC. Unfortunately, German Businessman and amateur archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann was more a treasure hunter than archaeologist and when he received permission to excavate the site, he did it with a bulldozer. Now Troy is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. | Troy Day 4 (6 SEP 2012) | TROY

22: Canakkale Days 4-6 (6-7 SEP 2012)

23: CANAKKALE the city lies on the Anatolian side of the Dardanelles - the straight that connects the Sea of Marmara to the Aegean Sea - while the province of the same name extends to Europe. The Byzantine name for Canakkale was Dardanellia and is where the Dardanelles got their name. The historical clock tower, located at the heart of Canakkale, was built in 1897. The wooden horse from the 2004 movie "Troy" is exhibited on the seafront.

25: ASKLEPION | or healing temple, gained in prominence in the 2nd century AD under the Romans, but existed as a sacred site as early as the 4th century BC. Treatments included psychotherapy, massage, herbal remedies, mud treatments, and the drinking of water, which was later discovered as having radioactive properties.

26: IZMIR | Izmir is the third most populous city in Turkey. The ancient city was known as Smyrna until the Turkish Postal Services Law of 1930 made "Izmir" the internationally recognized name. | Izmir Days 5-7 (7-9 SEP 2012)

27: "My cousin has a shop full of meerschaum pipes. Would you care for a cup of apple tea while you look?" Another site not to miss: the carpet museum...

28: Ephesus, situated on the Aegean Sea, was a center of travel and commerce in the ancient world. The Library of Celsus, originally built in 115 AD, is a highlight of the ruins. The 1st century Roman latrine was advanced for its time; toilet seats constructed over a channel of flowing water. There is also the infamous footprint etched in the marble showing the way to the brothel. Only 15% of the ruins have been excavated. | EPHESUS

32: THE BASCILLICA OF SAINT JOHN, constructed in the 6th century, stands over the burial site of John the Apostle.

33: The Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, is also visible from the Basilica of Saint John.

34: House of the Virgin Mary | Mary was brought to Ephesus by the Apostle John after the Resurrection of Jesus. She lived out her days nearby. Her house was "discovered" in 1812 by a German nun, who clearly saw the place in a vision, yet had never traveled from home.

35: While traveling around Turkey, we saw many great and wondrous sights from the bus and at rest stops.

36: a.k.a. "THE COTTON CASTLE" is a natural site in southwestern Turkey. It is so named because the hot springs formed cotton-white terraces of carbonate minerals left by the flowing water. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. | PAMUKKALE

37: Pamukkale Day 7 (9 SEP 2012)

38: Underwater Archaeologist | Travertine Babe | Hierapolis, an ancient spa city, was built on top of Pamukkale's natural travertines to exploit the natural healing (radioactive) properties of the water. You can still experience these healing waters today.


41: ANTALYA is a popular sea resort among international tourists. In 2011, it surpassed New York to be the third most visited city in the world behind Paris and London. With beautiful Mediterranean waters, wonderful food, and nightly "animations" at the resorts, its not hard to see why. We spent the middle of our trip at a five-star resort with easy access to relax in the sea. Don't let that fool you into thinking we didn't get out away from the beach... | Antalya Days 7-9 (9-11 SEP 2012)

42: Enjoying the cerulean blue water...

43: Camels aren't nature-ol! | Not far from the beaches of Antalya lie the ruins of Aspendos. The only two excavated sites of Aspendos are the aqueducts (shown here) and the theater. A discerning eye can tell these are popular with tourists as camels are not endemic to Turkey, but were brought in for tourists to enjoy.

44: Legend has it that the theater was built as part of a contest to build the most important structure for the city. The winner of the contest would get to marry the king's daughter. The two finalists were the architects behind the aqueduct and the theater. While the king was inspecting the theater he heard a voice telling him that the architect of the theater should win. The acoustics are so good in the theater, the voice may well have been that of the architect himself trying to seal his fate.

45: ASPENDOS boasts the best-preserved Roman theater in Turkey, and one of the best in the world. The site was so well preserved, it is still used for concerts today.


47: Covering over 75,000 square feet, the archaeological museum at Antalya is one of Turkey's largest museums. It includes 13 exhibition halls and an open air gallery. We especially enjoyed the Statuary Hall, the Hall of Imperial Statues, and the Sarcophagus Hall. Many of the statues throughout the museum were excavated from Perge.

48: Perge was once the most prosperous city of the ancient world. St. Paul even preached his first sermon at Perge. What remains today are ruins of an amphitheater, stadium, agora, nyphaeum, and the baths complex.

49: P E R G E

50: CAPPADOCIA has a unique other-worldly landscape that is instantly recognizable with its distinct fairy chimneys. These structures are formed after thousands of years of erosion of volcanic tufa trapped under a harder layer of rock - usually limestone or basalt. Cappadocia is also well known for its cave churches and underground cities.

51: Cappadocia Days 9-11 (11-13 SEP 2012)


53: PIGEON VALLEY (a.k.a. Pigeon Poo Palace) is so named for the thousands of pigeon houses carved into the rock. Over the centuries, farmers would harvest the pigeon dropping to use as fertilizer for their crops. Today, some farmers insist that the reputation of Cappadocian fruits as the sweetest and most succulent is entirely due to the pigeon droppings... You just can't make this $hit up.

54: GOREME | ..

55: GOREME was settled during the ancient Roman period after Christianity became the prevailing religion in the region. It has many historically important churches and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

56: Turkey is known for their quality carpets, and within Turkey the best carpets are made in Cappadocia. Here we visited a Turkish carpet cooperative (sweat shop) and found that great carpets can be made from wool, or cotton, but the finest are silk.

58: "MONK'S VALLEY" is another great location to see the unique fairy chimneys of Cappadocia. This region got its nickname because the hermits of Cappadocia distanced themselves from the world by cutting into the fairy chimneys, or living on top of them, as Saint Simeon did.

59: AVANOS | is an artisanal town on the banks of the Kizilirmak, or Red River. Its most famous historical feature is its production of earthenware pottery. ...who doesn't want a 15 TL tea cup? | 12 SEP 2012

60: OZKONAK - Underground | ..

61: City | The subterranean city of Ozkonak is a complex going ten stories underground and is thought to have housed up to 60,000 inhabitants. The larger areas of the city are connected by tunnels, and a system of pipes allowed for communication during times of hiding. Large stone doors could block invaders. This place had everything its residents needed to survive ... even a winery!

63: Cappadocia is known around the world as one of the best places go ballooning. The spectacular surrealistic landscapes combined with excellent flying conditions allow the balloons to gently drift over and between fairy chimneys, pigeon houses, orchards and vineyards. When we asked our pilot how high we flew, he responded, "Too high." We had gone to 7,800 ft. At 8,000 ft, he would need to contact air traffic control to divert planes.

64: Getting High Together | I'm in a Balloon!!!

65: Graceful Exit | Celebratory Drinks

66: ATATÜRK MEMORIAL | The Mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk is appropriately located in the country's capital. Although idolatry is against the teachings of Islam, the Turkish people thought it appropriate to build a memorial to the founder of the Turkish Republic. Following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in WWI, the Treaty of Sevres called for the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire. Mustafa Kamal went against the Sultan and this treaty and led the Turkish National Movement. Following the Turkish War of Independence, Mustafa Kamal was elected to be Turkey's first president and was later given the honorary name "Atatürk" meaning "Father of the Turks." | Ankara Days 11-12 (13-14 SEP 2012)

67: ANKARA ARCHEOLOGICAL MUSEUM | The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations houses many Hittite (1750-1200 BC) artifacts, though it also has exhibits going back much farther to even the Palaeolithic Age (8000 BC). One of the bronze sculptures featured in the Museum is often used as a symbol for Ankara.

68: Istanbul Days 12-13 (14-15 SEP 2012)

69: As we make our way back to Istanbul, we get to say good-bye to our new found friends, and have a brief opportunity to purchase souvenirs before our flights back to the States. Thank you for joining us as we relive our 13-Day Turkish Treasures experience. - Scott & April

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  • By: Scott B.
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  • Title: Thirteen-Day Turkish Treasures
  • Scott and April's 2012 trip to Turkey
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  • Published: over 5 years ago