While travelling the world, I had most of the time expectations concerning many of the destinations. When it came to Istanbul, surprisingly I had none. Maybe that is the secret of it all, less expectations to get surprises even more interesting…
Turkey is known as the door to Asia. After months of travelling in countries such as India, South Korea, Singapore and Malaysia, this new destination was the most logical to conclude my journey of Asia. Also a good introduction to what is coming next, the western world. As you can see in the map above, Turkey is separated by two straits, the bosphorus and the Dardanelles, as well as the Black Sea in the north and the Marmara sea in the south. The country devided into two parts naturally separates Europe and Asia.
View from the plane of Istanbul – the Bosphorus Strait
Capital of Turkey: Ankara
Official language: Turkish
Religion: more than 98% muslim
Biggestg city: Istanbul
Currency: Turkish Lira
Government: Parliamentary Republic
What immediately caught my attention in Istanbul is the subtile mixed between modernity and tradition. The very minute I reached this place i felt a very unique energy, i could relate with the one i felt in Athens few years ago. These cities are special, I could sense very deeply that Istanbul used to be a major city. The walls of any old monuments were unquestionably charged with epic stories.
On a totally different aspect, I was also amazed, that in a country that is for more than 98% muslim, I could see as many veiled women (wearing a scarf to be precised) as women wearing mini skirts… interesting I believe.
As soon as you start walking in the streets of the city, it feels like a museum outside. Some kind of a time machine that makes your travel from the Greek Empire to the modern Istanbul, via the Roman, the Byzantin and not to forget the Ottoman Empires.
Hagia Sophia is certainly one of the most breathtaking monument from the Romain Empire (beginning date of construction 532) when Istanbul was called Byzance.
The Mosque Hagia Sophia used to be a christian Church (latin name: Sancta Sophia) built by Justinien and then rebuilt by Constantine. This place is an amazing mixed of muslim and christian art. Architecturally and artistically it is a wonder. According to me, it shows the infinite talent of human beings when there is dedication in work, passion and faith.
Another perspective of Hagia Sophia inside
From the Byzantin period (6th century), i visited the Cistern Basilica. It is one of the largest ancient cistern of Istanbul.
From the Ottoman Empire there is the beautiful Sultan Ahmed Mosque
also known as the blue Mosque because of the blue tiles in its interior
As i was explaining earlier, Istanbul is also a very modern and arty city that has inspired more than one artist.
Agatha Christie used to stay in the Pera Palace of Istanbul and the legend says that she may have written the Crime of Orient Express in her room.
I coudn’t help to take a real Turkish coffee at the Pera Palace
Pierre Loti, a French writer was also fascinated by Istanbul. Quote from him “Holy Istanbul ! Your name is the most enchanting one of all names which enchants me”.
Today there is a Pierre Loti café in the area of Eyüp where lots of locals go on week-end to have a tea and enjoy a spectacular view of the Golden Horn.
I also went to a beautiful exhibition called Revolution Revelation by the Romantic Rebels – the adventures of musician/DJ Arkın (Mercan Dede) and painter Carlito Dalceggio that run from Montreal to Istanbul.
I deeply believe in the power of art, it is more, i believe in its necessity . I wish for the world just as these artists do, to be on our way to reach “inner enlightenment, universal freedom”. We have to keep faith no matter what.
To conclude, obviously here is a sample of what I saw and I felt during these 7 days. I did so much more, not to mention that I met lovely Turkish people also.
Teṣekkür ederim (Thank You) Istanbul
**A special thank you to Mauricio for joining me during this journey and for sharing several of his beautiful pictures.