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Our Trip to Türkiye

Sultan Ahmet Mosque, Istanbul

A. Rod Paolini September, 2011

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Day 01: September 14, 2011 After a eleven-hour flight from Washington Dulles, a twohour layover at Atatürk Airport in Istanbul, and a one-hour flight to Adnan Menderez Airport near Izmir, we obtained our rental car and descended into the darkness of Anatolia. My wife, Kathy, and I had joined with her brother and sister-in-law, Jack and Judy Donovan, for a seventeen-day vacation in Türkiye. We traveled about an hour on the otoyol and arrived in Selçuk about 9:30pm. By 10:00pm, we were sitting in an outdoor café sipping wine while surrounded by a pool with a fountain, a modern sculpture, and the arches of an aqueduct as a backdrop.

Selçuk Square

Day 02: September 15, 2011 The area around the ancient city of Ephesus had been settled as early as the fourteenth century BCE (before the common era); and it was founded by Greeks in the ninth century. It was constructed on a river bend that was eventually dredged to create a harbor near the mouth of the Cayster River, and, because of the man-made harbor structure and the flow of the river, a backwash caused the harbor to frequently silt up. While the harbor was dredged over the years, it finally silted up and the city was left five miles from the Aegean Sea. It was partially destroyed by an earthquake in 614 CE and sacked by Arabs starting in the 7th century. When the Seljuk Turks conquered Ephesus in 1090, it was a small village. By the 15th century, it had been completely abandoned. At its height, it was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League during the Classical Greek era. In the Roman period, it was for many years the second largest city of the Roman Empire, ranking behind Rome. Ephesus had a population of more than 250,000 in the 1st century BCE, which also made it the second largest city in the world. It’s major attraction in those times was the Artemision, the temple of Artemis. Now, only a single column is restored. It experienced the period of transition from the Olympian deities to the Christian god but not without contention. From 52–54 CE, Paul lived in Ephesus, working with the congregation and apparently organizing missionary activity into the hinterlands. He became embroiled in a dispute with local artisans, whose livelihood depended on selling the statuettes of Artemis in the temple.

Library of Celsus

While perhaps not regaining its former size, the daytime population in the summer probably reaches several thousands as cruise ships dock at nearby Kuºadasý which can disgorge 2,000 passengers per ship. Usually I enjoy an ancient site alone but in the case of Ephesus, having throngs of people simulates the experience as the city must have been. Still, it creates a frustrating situation as one tries to read maps and excerpts from the guide book, search and identify a particular ruin, dodge other tourists, and watch for pedestrian hazards. As I was waiting for Judy to catch up to me, I turned to step out of the pedestrian flow and then turned back, only to see her face down on the

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pavement. More stunned than hurt, she recovered quickly. Amazing to me is the footwear of tourist. While I wear rock-climbing boots–for we are walking on roughly paved stone–others wear flip-flops, flats, and even high-heel shoes. Kathy and I had visited Ephesus in the year 2000, but the area called the terrace houses was just being unearthed. Now much of it had been uncovered and partially restore; best of all, it was enclosed with a roof to provide shade. I’m sure that I do not fully appreciate the task and difficulties of an archaeologist but I quickly realized two challenges. First, cities are dynamic. A living quarters is built on a site, then converted to a stable, and then a bath, and finally an artisan’s workshop. How an archaeologist untangles the evidence of these uses is amazing, especially when on realizes that the ruins of the former became the building material for the latter. The work of restoration seems straight-forward at first: identify the materials that comprised the structure and re-position them while supplementing those that are missing. Fine in theory, but when I looked at the project for the restoration of the frescoed walls, I was ‘blown away.’ Sitting at a table, among probably twenty-five tables, were workers putting together a jigsaw puzzle of hundreds of pieces of broken fresco. And how did they know that those pieces were of the same fresco? When did they decide, “Screw it! The piece is missing; let’s just make a new one?” Based upon a proposed schedule for visiting the area, I had allocated two hours for touring, but after three and a half, we had only walked the main thorough fares. While the temperature in the shade was probably only 80 degrees, the sun was brilliant and the stones radiated heat. Sweat was pouring into my eyes, my throat was parched, and my calves were burning. ‘Touristing’ isn’t suppose to be this much work.
Jigsaw Puzzle

Day 03: September 16, 2011 Breakfast is provided by most hotels in Türkiye, and it is usually served on a terrace rooftop. The typical Turkish breakfast consists of bread or toast, feta cheese, black and green olives, and coffee, but Urkmez Hotel offered juice, cereal and eggs. Young men brought out the food and bused the tables–the same ones that staffed the front desk and carried in our bags. I had read in several books that Türkiye is a male-dominated society and that roles are defined; as such, the household is run by the woman. The women of this household–the mother and a cook–seemed to fit this description. They seldom emerged from their office and kitchen, but they barked orders and scoldings that needed no translation, and their young men moved lively in response. Our objective for the day was to travel to the town of Dalyan on the Mediterranean coast, about a six hour drive from Selçuk. To have respite from the drive, I had routed us south and around the Lake Bafa in order to visit the ancient city of Heracleia under Latmos, the city being at the base of Mount Latmos. The city had been on the Gulf of Latmos but sediment from the Maeander River had silted the area at the mouth and Lake Bafa had formed behind the estuary marshes. The photographs of the area were enticing, and it was a refuge for birds. Also found in the area were

Village of Kapýýkýrý and Lake Bafa

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rock-paintings dating to the Bronze Age, and the ruins of several monasteries founded in the 7th century. We arrived in the little village of Kapýýkýrý and spotted a sign pointing to the monasteries. I inquired of the proprietor, of a what seemed to have been a restaurant but now seemed to only to serve drinks, as to how far and how long it would take to hike to the monastery as I didn’t want to spend a great deal of time here. “Only about 30 minutes; it’s smooth.” A canard of the highest order! I believe that we ascended a couple of thousand feet, and soon the sweat was pouring down my face. Our guide paused our trek for water and a smoke, the latter seemingly not to affect him as he nimbly moved up and down the path. We did reach a monastery, name unknown. I walked about the ruin with the guide to inspect the various buildings such as the cells, the church and the fortifications (Arabs began invading the area Ruin of a monastery in the 7th century) while my companions tried to recuperate. We found only one small portion of a fresco, and we soon began our descent. Our guide indicated that he could take us to the rock-paintings but we were too exhausted to extend our trek. A place to sit, a cool drink, and the resumption of our journey was all we could think of. Now hours behind our scheduled journey, we decided to have dinner in the city of Muða (the ð is silent). We found an large restaurant with an outdoor patio, complete with a live ensemble that played Fasil music, described as a semi-classical genre and a nightclub version of classical Turkish music. We arrived in Dalyan and with a motorcycle escort were led to our hotel (Dalyan Çelik Apart Hotel). Jack and Judy retired for the evening but Kathy and I decided to take a passeggiata. The main street is lined with restaurants and bars, many of them with largescreen televisions showing soccer for their British clients. We then Fresco on the underside of a boulder found the water front as Dalyan lays along the eastern edge of the boðazý or straits between a lake (Köyceðiz Gölü) and the Mediterranean. A park ran along the water’s edge with a path lined with trees. It was dark, still and peaceful, with only the sound of our footsteps. We emerged from under a bough, and I was struck dumb: there were the rock tombs as though projected from a beam or shown on an outdoor movie screen. The were carved in the rock face of a mountain that was probably a mile or two away and across the river, but the floodlights made them appear as though they were only a few hundred feet away. It was, in the current idiom, awesome.

Rock-cut Tombs of Dalyan

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Day 04: September 17, 2011 Dalyan affords three attractions: Lycian rock-cut tombs; the ruins of the ancient city of Caunos, and Ýztuzu Beach, or Turtle Beach as it is a nesting site for giant loggerhead turtles. As we were told that Caunos was only a twenty minute walk, for which we doubled given our experience of the prior day, we decided to tour the ruins in the morning, relax in the early afternoon, and visit the beach in the late afternoon. About 9:30am we walked to the river which we needed to cross in order to reach Caunos. A matronly Turkish woman served as our Charon, and for four 4 Turkish Lire rowed us across. The road to the ruin was paved and flat, the air was still cool and fresh, and orchards and fields, with vines and flowers, lined the fences along the way. I thought that we might match the estimate of twenty minutes to the site, but the estimate was based on continuous movement. Jack, Judy and Kathy are avid gardeners, and so each flower and plant had to be identified and admired, often with a respite. Caunos proved worthy of our trek. The most notable artifacts being a theater (we tested the acoustics); a bath; a sanctuary of Apollo with other memorials; and a colonnade (without the columns). At three in the afternoon, the sun begins to lose its intensity, and so I thought that it would be the appropriate time to take one of the many boats that take passengers to and from Ýztuzu Beach; but I had failed to understand the purpose of the beach and the rhythms of the local culture. The beach provides a place where people can be roasted by Ruins of a temple at Caunos the sun in its most intense period; thus the boats departed at 10:00am and ceased at 3:00pm. We were leaving the next day for Kalkan, an estimated two-hour drive; and so I proposed that we change our plan, and visit the beach tomorrow morning, be back at noon for lunch, and then drive during the heat of the day. A well-reasoned argument, I thought. Unfortunately reality beat logic. Day 05: September 18, 2011 We set off the next morning promptly at 10:00am, and figuring that we would sit in the sun for a few minutes, jump in the sea to cool off, and then return in forty-five minutes. We would be on our way to Kalkan by noon. And then we heard the announcement: the first return boat was a 1:00pm. Turks often use the phrase inºalla, which translates, "God willing." I was beginning to see why.

Ýztuzu Beach

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Our boat chugged rhythmically down the river, veering left and right according to the course of the river. We gazed at the rock-cut tombs, the rushes, the birds and an occasional jumping fish; but after a while, we all faced forward. Rather than reflect on my own jumble of thoughts, I studied my fellow passengers. There was a mother and daughter: the latter appeared to be about fifteen years old, smooth tawny skin and dark flashing eyes highlighted by dark brown lashes; the mother, while proportional, was a greatly enlarged version. There was a middle-aged woman with burnt orange hair, thin–almost gaunt–and seemingly intense as she read her two-inch thick novel. There was a couple with a baby who was absolutely beautiful and captivating, especially to the couple sitting next to her mother, who allowed the young woman to hold the child. The joy in her face was beautiful. And finally there was the captain, who nonchalantly steered the ship with one hand resting on the wheel while in the other dangled a cigarette as he squinted into the sun. He reminded me of Humphrey Bogart in African Queen except that his gut stretched to the limit his grease-stained T-shirt. We reached the beach and settled under a couple of straw umbrellas. The sun was already intense to the degree that I felt that I was being burned rather than tanned. After a swim and a stroll, there was nothing to do but simply gaze at the scenery; but it was not always a pretty sight. When one views ancient Greek statues as we did in the Ephesus museum, one can understand the appreciation the Greeks had for the human body. The statues of Apollo, Adonis, Aphrodite and Hera attest to this admiration. Looking at the specimens on this beach, I don’t think they were what the Greeks Ýztuzu Beach, or Turtle Beach had in mind. As I recall, the bikini swimsuit was popularized by the French actress Brigitte Bardot, as she and the suit seemed made for each other; alas, not all women are. On the male side, Mark Spitz, or whoever is the latest Olympic swimming champion, looks great in Speedo briefs, but on a man with a belly that droops over his belt-line and a butt that’s shriveled, it can only be an embarrassment. At these images, I felt compelled to turn away. In a tourist spot, one not only meets the locals but also other foreign visitors, and I often scrutinize people with the intent of identifying their nationality. So when we had boarded the boat to return to Dalyan, I and my companions played this guessing game. During this endeavor, I realized that my shoes were full of sand, and so I went forward to wash them in the water where I met two couples boarding the boat. One of the men addressed me, but I didn’t understand a word. “I’m sorry,” I said. “I only speak English.” “I am speaking English!” he said stridently. “I’m Scottish!” I stood dumb-stuck, and then burst out laughing.

Day 06: September 19, 2011 We arrived in Kalkan the previous evening and checked into our hotel. I anticipated that the hotels in Selçuk and Dalyan would be rather drab and Spartan, but I was willing to pay a little extra in selecting Hotel Allegra in the hopes that were could enjoy its amenities as much as the historic sites. My expectations were exceeded. All the rooms had a patio with a view of the Bay of Kalkan and the swimming pool below. The latter had an ‘infinity’ edge so that when one swam toward it, it was almost as though one were swimming in the Bay.
Kathy at poolside at Hotel Allegra

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Our tour this day was of the ancient Greek sanctuary of Letoön, where, according to myth, it was founded by Leto, the mother of Apollo and Artemis, having fled to Lycia to escape the wrath of Hera, the jealous wife of Zeus, who, in one of his amorous escapades, had fathered the children. It was a rather small site: its main features being three temples of Leto, Apollo and Artemis, a nymphaeum, and a Byzantine basilica. After our visit, we had a snack of fruit and nuts in the local village of Kinik when the amplified muezzin issued his call to prayer. A handful of devotees filed into the mosque, but the great majority of men continued their conversations and backgammon without looking up. The next site was the ancient Lycian and then Hellenistic city of Xanthos, most notable for its Lycian rock-cut tombs and sarcophaguses, the most famous being the socalled Harpy Tomb. Anthropologists previously believed that the winged women figures in the frieze were harpies–monsters from Greek mythology with the head of a woman and the body of a bird. It is now thought that these figures depict sirens carrying off the souls of the dead. The history of Xanthos is quite tragic: The Persian army entered the plain of Xanthos under the command of Harpagos and did battle with the Xanthians. The Xanthians fought with small numbers against the superior Persian forces with legendary bravery. They resisted the endless Persian forces with great courage but were finally succumbed and forced to retreat within the walls of their city. They gathered their womenfolk, children, slaves and treasure into the fortress. This was then set on fire from below and around the walls, until all was destroyed by the conflagration. The warriors of Xanthos [then] made their final attack on the Persians,..., until every last man from Xanthos was killed." Later, it was reported that:
Harpy Tomb

Ruins of the nymphaeum at Letoön

By the time Alexander marched through Lycia in 333 BCE, Xanthus had recovered. Plutarch says that a spring near Xanthus overflowed at about this time, disgorging a copper plate engraved with a prediction that the Greeks would destroy the Persian empire. Heeding the omen, Xanthus submitted peacefully to Alexander. 42 BCE when Brutus attacked the city during the Roman civil wars in order to recruit troops and raise money, Xanthos refused money and men to pro-Republic forces engaged in civil war with the triumvirate of Octavian, Antony, and Lepidus. Besieged and hopelessly outnumbered by Brutus' army, the Xanthians again committed collective suicide.

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After dinner in Kalkan, we walked about the shops as Judy and Kathy wanted to shop for gifts. I was interested in buying a tray for Jared and for myself. We came to a shop with such trays and entered though I realized that these were elegant and expensive trays; the first one I inspected had a price tag of 345TL. The owner and craftsman was working on a tray, engraving diagonal lines in a circle. I was surprised that he didn’t use any template or drawn lines before engraving; he did it free-hand. He then engraved a curve with several sections; and then he matched it with a second curve a few millimeters from the first. It was a perfect match and the two curves equidistant. Incredible!

Day 07: September 20, 2011 To the east of Kalkan is the island of Kekova, on which are the remains of half of the ancient city of Simena, part of which sunk into the sea due to an earthquake in the second century of the common era. The island is a sliver of land that runs northeast to southwest with the island half of ancient Simena on the northern side of the southwest end; thus it faces the mainland and a peninsula on which is the village of Kaleköy (formerly the other half of ancient Simena and locally called just "Kale"), and on its acropolis, is a castle built by the Knights of Rhodes.

Metal work shop and gallery

In planning for the trip, I learned that there were boats from Kaº (ancient Antiphellos), a town just east of Kalkan, that cruised this area but they are unable to get very close to the sunken ruins. I then discovered that there was a kayak outfitter that conducted tours. I was enthused: this would be a great way to see the ruins and have somewhat of an adventure and exercise. But now I had experienced the Mediterranean sun! On the water, I didn’t think the temperature would be too hot, but surely our faces would be burned to a crisp. Our hostess Christine suggested chartering a small boat. “I know a guy in Üçaðýz (ancient Teimiussa) that will take you out for
Kaleköy and kale (castle)

three hours or more for 30TL per person.” And so we did! We trolled the area and along the sunken ruins, then anchored in a cove twice to have a swim. The only disappointing aspect was that our boatman spoke no English, and so we could not converse about his life in his small Turkish village.

Ancient Simena on Kekova Island

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We departed Üçaðýz and wound our way over the hills and into an alluvial plain that is adjacent to the sea. The rich soil is used to grow two crops in a year of fruit and vegetables, mainly tomatoes, with the use of green houses which are made of plastic sheeting. Almost the entire plain is covered. Returning to Kalkan, we stopped in the town of Kaº, the ancient town of Antiphellos and port city of Phellos to the north. It is now a port city mainly for British yachts. My map identified a few ancient ruins of interest: a cistern, a base of a Greek temple, a theater, and some Lycian tombs. We walked through the middle of town, but before we reached the cistern, Judy stopped to inspect some carpets. Kathy and I gave her up for dead as no one can escape the clutches of a Turkish carpet salesman. As one passes a carpet shop, a mere glance, an almost inaudible word, perhaps a mere raising of an eyebrow is enough to rouse the proprietor, descend from his lair, and invite the innocent passerby to have some tea while he tells you of the little known attributes of Turkish rugs that make them superior to all others. Like Circe, the enchantress of ancient Greek myth, one cannot escape nor resist until the golden fleece is in one’s hand. Kathy and I searched some time but could find nothing of any structure that would indicate a cistern; then again, cisterns are underground. Kathy found a sign describing the cistern, and while Rug shop in Kaº we were reading it, the owner of a restaurant approached and motioned us to follow him. He opened a canvass covered gate and flipped on a switch; then held out his hand indicating for us to enter. We descended into darkness while we could hear the gurgle of water. Our eyes grew accustomed to the light so that we could discern the walls and supporting columns of the cistern, the size I estimated at 15 by 40 feet and an 8 foot ceiling. It felt as though we were in a different space and time. We returned to the carpet shop as Judy was making her payment of 600TL for a runner as a gift to her daughter Tricia. The salesman was adding the final touches of his seduction, stating that had she been shopping for this rug at the beginning of the season, the price would have been 1,000TL. We anticipated that we would be exhausted after our outing and would not want to leave the hotel in search of a restaurant, and so we ordered a mean at the hotel. Our dinning room was the terrace on the roof of the hotel. Candles, soft music, a warm soft breeze, and a view of the sea created an enchanting setting. There were four appetizers or mezes in Turkish: aubergine (eggplant) and tomatoes; bean salad; sea grass (weed?); yogurt and dill. The main course was sea trout and rice almondine with shepherd salad; for dessert, chocolate pudding over cake. It doesn’t get any better.

Cistern in Kaº

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Day 08: September 21, 2011 Of our four-day sojourn in Kalkan, I had not scheduled an activity for the fourth day but on this third day, I pleaded for rest and relaxation. I was exhausted. There were no objections from the group. After a leisurely breakfast on the patio by the pool, Kathy and Judy read their novels while Jack, who had not slept well since the beginning of the trip, dozed soundly on a lounge. I wrote these travel musings. As I did so, two young couples, who I took to be German, were removing their outer garments and preparing their bodies for a day of reading and sunbathing. In contrast to the bodies at Turtle Beach, these were quite attractive, and I was able to enjoy this view as well as the scenery of sea and mountains. Turkey affords sea and sun, and so it is no wonder that it attracts people who reside in climes where clouds descend to sea level and the sun does not make an appearance for an entire season. Still, the Turkish sun has a brilliance and intensity that would burn the hide of a rhinoceros, and so I was astounded to see these Aryans expose themselves for eight hours each day. Hunger struck promptly at noon, and Jack announced that he was feeling carnivorous. On the advice of our hostess, we looked for Hünkar, an eatery that featured kebabs (which Turkish restaurant doesn’t?) prepared in an outside oven over a rotisserie. Strictly speaking, a kebab that is rotated horizontally is called a Cað (ja) kebab while one that is rotated vertically is called a döner kebab. In response to the demand for a healthier diet, chicken kebabs are available as well as lamb.

Jack and Judy at poolside, Hotel Allegra

We had difficulty interpreting the menu, and so we sought the assistance of an English couple at the adjacent table. Soon we were conversing on the subjects of travel, books, theater, the teaching profession, and living in retirement. The woman said that she was a teacher of drama and English literature, but she was never successful as an actress herself; but she was indeed theatrical, and put on a complete show for the next hour. It was fortunate for her students that she did not teach history. In lamenting the removal of artifacts from Turkey, she stated: “An Englishman named Arthur Schliemann, who dug at Troy, smuggled the Elgin marbles out of the country and now they’re someplace in England.” A trifecta of errors in one sentence! Heinrich Schliemann, obviously German, dug at Troy, as later did Sir Arthur Evans; and while Schliemann did take a few items for which he did not have permission, in no way could he have smuggled the Elgin marbles, those having been taken from the Parthenon in Athens by Thomas Bruce the 7th , Earl of Elgin, and installed in the British Museum in 1812 where they remain. The Greek government has ‘requested’ the return of the marbles, but has been unsuccessful. While there are many arguments pro and con for doing so, the claim that they should be returned “to their rightful owner” seems to be based on a falsity: Greece did not exist as a state in the 5th century BCE. As we shall see, the same can be said regarding Türkiye’s claims for artifacts by the crusaders.

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It was a day of strolling about the town, shopping, and lounging and swimming, and then dinner at Guru’s, which is definitely a family restaurant as we were able to observe the family and their relatives at a nearby table. An elderly gentlemen in an electric wheelchair was in the restaurant when we arrived, and he was introduced as Guru’s father. In a short time, an elderly woman and a girl of about fifteen to twenty years of age joined him, and then two adult couples. Still later, another young woman, probably about twenty years of age, joined the group. The greetings followed a well-defined protocol. The young women greeted the elderly man by taking his hand, kissing it, and then pressing it to their forehead. In greeting the elderly women–who were dressed in traditional Turkish garb–the same protocol was enacted but the elderly women then reached to embrace the young woman, and they kissed each other on both cheeks. In greeting the adult women, they only kissed each other on the cheek and hugged. While the men talked more than the women, the women remained in the group and conversed as well. The two young women said nothing and assumed a rather stoic affect that I could only interpret as this was an event that they had to perform but perhaps they would have liked to have been elsewhere.

Day 09: September 22, 2011 We drove to the ancient city of Tlos, about 50 km northwest of Kalkan and then on a small, winding and narrow road into the mountains, passing several small village on the way. We could discern the Roman fortress in the distance as we approached. Tlos had been inhabited through various periods, defined by the predominate ethnic group(s): Lycian, Greek, Hellenistic (Olympian Greco-Roman), Byzantine (Christian Roman), and Ottoman. Tlos was known to exist in the 2nd millennium BCE. The walls around the acropolis and the large ruined buildings date from the Ottoman period. The highest parts of the acropolis were inhabited by Kanli Ali Aga, a war lord and feudal chief, and used by him as a winter quarters during the 19th century. It was a relatively easy hike to the top of the acropolis from which we could survey the surrounding countryside, which was a deep green from the many fields and orchards though there were many farm houses and storage sheds.

Rod & Kathy descending the acropolis

View from a bath

The entire layout of the town could also be discerned. On the side of the acropolis were Lycian rock-cut tombs, and at ground level to the southeast was a stadium, quite likely used as a hippodrome for chariot races. To the southwest ran an aqueduct that also covered a row of shops and a church for which only the arches remained. Further to the southwest was a

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large palestra or outdoor exercise area, used for games and wrestling, and adjacent to a gymnasium; and further on, a large bath complex. At the end of this line of edifices was a large Byzantine basilica. We had lunch at a outdoor restaurant across the road, and then drove to Saklikent (Hidden City) Gorge which is reported to be the second-largest (20 km-long) gorge in Europe, and the longest and deepest gorge in Turkey. It is a spectacular place, with sculpted walls soaring high above. Four kilometers of the gorge is walkable after April when most of the snow from the Taurus Mountains has melted and passed through the gorge on its way to the Xanthos River; however, it had rained heavily the night before, and so the water, normally clear, was laden with silt. Jack and Judy demurred the trek but Kathy and I forged ahead for a few hundred meters. Our resolve tested and our bodies muddy only from the knee down, we returned to splash in the fresh water from another stream. We spent the evening preparing for our next adventure–Istanbul–and enjoying the surroundings and view from Hotel Allegra.

View from room at dusk

Day 10: September 23, 2011 Our flight from Dalaman to Istanbul was at 9:50am. Judy was quite worried that we would miss the flight, but we had no difficulty in finding the airport, returning the rental car, and passing security. It was a short and uneventful flight to Atatürk International Airport. One surprising incident: waiting at the same carousel, and probably on the same flight, was Hidayet "Hedo" Türkoðlu, currently playing for the Orlando Magic of the National Basketball Association. At 6' 10", he is considered a small forward. He graciously posed for a photograph with his daughter. After checking into our hotel, Naz Woodenhouse, we toured the Seraglio Point of Stamboul. We walked through the park of Sultan Ahmet which was filled with tourist and sightseers of all nationalities. Families with their children were crowded around the fountain in which the water turned different colors due to the lighting. We were accosted by some Muslims, we presumed, who asked that we take their photograph, each of them handing us their camera. Jack and I were happy to do so, and so I took a photo of them as a memento of international goodwill. I wanted to introduce Jack and Judy to Stamboul and the Sultan Ahmet area, pointing out various landmarks. We walked through Gülhane Park. On almost every bench was a young couple in ‘very close proximity to each other,’ a phenomenon I had not observed in our two prior visits.
Photo of Muslims Lovers in Gülhane Park Hidayet "Hedo" Türkoðlu

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One of my objectives was the Column of the Goths, a Roman victory column dating to the 3rd or 4th century, CE. Nearby we found the remains of the Orphanage of Saint Paul, an institution founded by the emperor Justin II (565-578); it served not only orphans, but also elderly people, the blind, and war veterans. Apparently, there were at least two churches in the neighborhood too, dedicated to Saint Menas and Saint Demetrius.

Column of the Goths

We reached the Sirkeci train station, famed as the terminal for the Orient Express, the train that ran between Constantinople and Paris in the late 1800's and early 20th century. We continued northwest to the area of Eminönü and the docks along the Haliç or Golden Horn. It was rush hour and a torrent of commuters were rushing to catch their ferryboat home for the weekend. In the midst of this flow of humanity were sellers of roasted chestnuts and roasted sweet corn on the cob.

Ruins of orphanage

Sirkeci train station We decided to end our tour of the Seraglio Point at the Egyptian Bazaar, also called the Spice Bazaar. Reaching the bazaar required descents into two subterranean passage ways, one containing an entire shopping mall for all sorts of item. We emerged from the passage way and entered the bazaar. On our first visit in 2000, there were bins of spices right at the entrance, but this time we saw only a few shops selling spices while the majority were selling scarves and clothing, cloths, candy, and jewelry.

Corn Vendor

We emerged at the far end somewhat lost. Even when one has a sense of direction as to where one wants to go, it is often difficult to go in the desired direction as streets are not laid in a grid pattern. To make matters even more difficult, the city is built on seven hills, and so taking a particular heading may entail a steep climb only to find that an easier and quicker path could have been taken without the strenuous effort.

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In preparing for my role as guide, I had purchased a compass so as to navigate and also to determine the location of landmarks indicated by compass direction, such as, “the south wall of the church.” The compass lasted only a week before it froze in place, and so as I passed a store, I saw an inexpensive compass in the window which I purchased. To select a restaurant for our evening meal, we adopted the recommendation of the hotel’s manager: the Bukoleon Fish Restaurant. We adopted the suggestion, but strangely enough, no one ordered fish. Both couples ordered a few mezes and one entré. The owner of the restaurant generously served fruit, tea, and a sweet, gratis. It then came time to pay the bill and a tip, and the proper amount has always been a mystery to me. Some guidebooks and people say that one should leave just a few lire as a gratuity is already included while others say that the waiter should receive 10% to 15%. There is also the problem of having the appropriate denominations. Even waiters and taxi drivers who I believe are honest seem to take advantage of keeping a large denomination rather than providing change. As both of us had a 20TL, we both asked for change for which the waiter returned 10TL and assume that the other half was his tip.

Day 11: September 24, 2011 I enrolled us in a half-day tour operated by Backpackers, Inc. Our first stop was Yedikule or the fortress of the seven towers. Within the enclosure of the fortress is the Golden Gate by which the Roman emperor entered the city along with his victorious army; it was partially sealed even in Roman times. During the Ottoman period, an enclosure was made using the wall as one side. The structure was used as a prison. One a clear, sunny day, it is a grand and imposing structure, providing pleasant views of the Marmara to the south and the land walls to the north. Inspection of two of its towers gives a different impression, especially when viewing the wooden interior structures to which prisoners were chained and tortured before being thrown down a well by which the body was washed out to the Marmara.

Imperial Golden Gate

Within sight of Yedikule are the ruins of the Church of St. John the Baptist and the monastery of Studion. This monastery left one of the most important legacies of Byzantium: the preservation of ancient Greek classics and early Christian writings. Not withstanding the documents found in monasteries and Nag Hammidi in Egypt, the Greek classics as we know them have come down to us in Byzantine manuscripts. "Were it not for certain obscure men who labored in the scriptorium anonymously in the ninth and tenth centuries, we would have neither Plato nor Aristotle (except in translation), neither Herodotus nor Thucydides, neither Aeschylus nor Sophocles, not to mention a host of other famous and less famous authors." In addition, between the first and fourth century of the common era, the scroll was replaced by the codex, that is, the bound book. Sometime before the eight century, books began to be copied in minuscule, the forerunner of modern, lower case cursive. The earliest dated specimen that has survived is a product of the Studius scriptorium.

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After a drive along the land walls, we arrived at the Church of St. Savior in Chora (Kariye Camii), meaning St. Savior in the Countryside, for the church was originally built outside of the 4th century walls of Constantine. However, when Theodosius II built his formidable land walls in 413–414, the church became incorporated within the city's defenses, but retained the name Chora. The majority of the fabric of the current building dates from 1077–1081. Converted into a mosque — Kariye Camii–the mosaics and frescoes were covered by a layer of plaster due to the prohibition against iconic images in Islam. In 1948, the mosque was converted to a museum and the plaster removed in order to reveal and restore the images.

Madonna and Child

St. Savior in Chora

St. Peter

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Our next stop was the district called Eyüp, which is named after standard-bearer of the Prophet Mohammed. He is said to have died during an Arab siege on Istanbul. A mosque was built over his grave, and his sword in installed there. In the period of Ottoman rule, sultans would girt the sword upon their accession to the throne. The district is also famous for a café named after a French writer named Pierre Loti. The café affords a magnificent view of the Golden Horn. Our last stop was the Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church which is in the district of Fener. This name derives from the Greek word phanári View of the Golden Horn from Eyüp which means lantern, for there was a lantern that served as a beacon or lighthouse on the shore of the Golden Horn. Under Ottoman rule, the Patriarch was responsible for the behavior of adherents of his faith. Though he opposed the rebellion of his fellow Greek Christians in their quest for independence in 1821, the Patriarch was still held responsible: Gregory V the Ethnomartyr, Patriarch of Constantinople, was hung by order of Sultan of Turkey Mahmud II and his body thrown into the Bosphorus in 1821. It had been my intention to explore the district of Fener. In our visit in 2005, we had seen signs of revival to this very colorful neighborhood, but there was no evidence of progress on the streets that we walked. We easily found the famous landmark of the Greek Boys School (Fener Rum Erkek Lisesi), as it is a very tall building on a hill. However, it was also my intention to find the Metochion or church embassy (St. George Metochi) of the Patriarch of Jerusalem, that is, the embassy to the Greek Patriarch. “Why?” you might ask. It is part of this history of Constantinople, and because a manuscript of a lost work of Archimedes was discovered there in 1906. Also in the neighborhood is the church of the Panagia Paramithias (St. Mary the Consoler) which served as the Patriarchal church from 1586 till 1596, in the years just after the Patriarchate was moved from the Pammakaristos. The Panagia Paramithias was also called the Vlach Saray. We began looking for the Church of Theotokos Pammakaristos or All-Blessed Mother of God. I had a map and a compass, but we couldn’t find the church/mosque until a man offered to help us. He said that he was waiting to meet a friend and that he had time to lead us, although he too had difficulty and needed to ask for directions; but at least he could speak English. Up hill and down dale, and around corners, past shops and through streets that were being torn up, presumably for re-paving, we finally found quiet in this small church. It was converted to a nunnery immediately after the conquest in 1453 and the Patriarch from 1455 to 1587. In 1591, it converted into a mosque and known as Fethiye Camii.
Door at which Patriarch was hung

Church of Theotokos Pammakaristos

At this point, I realized that the terrain was too strenuous and the search too difficult to seek these other obscure churches; and it was time for lunch. We descended to the water’s edge and found a local eatery where the food is already prepared and can be viewed just inside the door. One merely points to make one’s selection. It was cheap, it was delicious, and we didn’t have to wait long for the check. My kind of place.

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We walked south along the waterfront, enjoying the view of the Golden Horn on this beautiful summer day. At this point, I had only one objective: to find the Cibali Kapý or gate. Unexpectedly, we found the church of St. Nicholas (Aya Nikola), which, as with most historical structures in Istanbul, was under renovation, but we were allowed to enter. We did find the Cibali Gate, that is, a gate in the sea walls of Theodosius II. I could end my day’s adventure quite satisfied. After dinner, everyone wished to shop at the Arasta Bazaar, but I needed some male solitude and so I wandered Street in Fener about Sultan Ahmet square, observing Turks enjoying the evening: children running about or playing with a toy that had recently being purchased from a street vendor; a young man gnawing on a ear of corn; couples just sitting on a bench and gazing at the great mosque; vendors selling bottles of water, toys, roasted chestnuts and all sorts of trinkets. I felt the solitude but I didn’t feel alone nor lonely. The beautiful building of the Haseki Hürrem Sultan hamamý or the Aya Sofia bathhouse, with a facade of red brick and gray mortar, was bathed in soft light and its windows lit. It seemed to glow. As I turned the corner of the building, I immediately came upon the Whirling Dervish Café, with an ensemble of a three-person orchestra and whirling dervish. He turned counterclockwise, his right hand palm-up to receive the blessings of heaven and his left hand palm-down to transfer the blessings to earth, and his head tilted slightly to the right, his eyes almost closed as though in a trance. As I watched, I too felt somewhat mesmerized though often I would focus on his feet to see how he propelled himself by kicking his right leg. He was a stately gentleman, tall , though perhaps he appeared more so as he was dressed in white with a tall conical hat, tunic shirt, and long skirt. At the end of his performance, he simply stood with his hand folded in front. He had a presence–I could hardly draw my focus away from him–and yet he seemed not to be aware of the crowd that was now eating and talking.

Cibali Gate

I continued my stroll, and after a few feet, I came upon an opening between a museum and a green wooden building. The former was the Istanbul Folk Art Bazaar and the latter was the Yeºil Ev or Green House Hotel. I entered the space hesitantly, and to the right peered into a darkened courtyard that was beautiful and peaceful. I walked about this enchanting space with its lush greenery, palm trees, and sofras–low circular tray-stands usually used for taking tea. I then walked to the other side of the opening and to the rear of the green house and into a beautiful garden restaurant, complete with a spraying fountain. I casually asked the formally dressed waiter for a menu. Yes, I was quite right: way above my price range and I moved on. I turned down a darkened street that at first gave me a slight feeling of unease, but as my eyes became accustomed to the light, I realized that the street was lined with restaurants, the only lighting coming from candles on tables. I had entered another dimension of Istanbul–the quiet dimension that I hadn’t yet experienced. All day long my ears had been assaulted by cars and trucks whizzing by, crowds of people talking, vendors announcing their wares, and backhoes tearing up streets. Now all I heard were the tinkle of wine glasses and hushed conversations.

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As I turned another corner, I could see a rather grand hotel, complete with doorman and bellhops in uniforms: The Istanbul Four Seasons. At Yedikule prison, our Turkish guide, Ahmet, had said that when Yedikule was closed as a prison, the prisoners were transferred to the building that is now the Four Seasons. I like what they did to the place. It was getting late, and my legs were tired, but none of the streets looked familiar; I had only a vague notion of the direction of the Sultan Ahmet square. I entered an intersection and stopped a passerby. “Could you tell me where is Sultan Ahmet?” I asked. “You’re in Sultan Ahmet.” “I mean the mosque,” I clarified. “I’m not sure–I think it’s up that hill–what are you looking for?” “My hotel: Naz Woodenhouse.” “I’ve heard of it,” he said, “But I couldn’t tell you where it is.” We continued our conversation, and as I looked about, I realized where I was: one block from my hotel. I had returned from my magical, mystery tour.

Four Seasons Hotel

Day 12: September 25, 2011 The first time that I entered the church of Hagia Sophia I was filled with awe; the second time with enchantment. Now I was entering as a guide to my relatives. On the two past occasions, the interior was dimly lit due to repair and restoration projects that were in progress. Then it was quiet and still, with only a few people walking about. Now that the restoration as complete, every lamp on every chandelier was lit, throngs of tourists, many following their flag-waving guide, were swirling in a sea of humanity, and the roar of their voices echoed off the walls and ceiling. I enjoyed giving my spiel of the facts and figures and short historical anecdotes. I could identify architectural elements and the logic of its construction, the deficiencies and impending Hagia Sophia failures that were rectified. For example, the giant piers that support the pendentive and dome were made of stone and mortar, but in order to shorten the time of construction, the next layer had been poured before the previous layer had completely set and dried. Consequently the walls began to lean outward, and the circular dome had become slightly oval. This time I actually noticed these aspects: the distortion of the arches in the galleries and the break or shift at the circumference of the dome. I felt smarter and Distorted arches more aware, but I didn’t feel the wonder. As Hagia Sophia had been converted to a mosque after the conquest, several türbes or mausoleums had been built for some Ottoman sultans and their family. The tombs of Selim II and Ibrahim are in the baptistry.

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Southwest of Hagia Sophia is the square and mosque of Sultan Ahmet where once was the Great Palace of Byzantium, actually a complex of palaces and churches. Adjacent to the palace was the hippodrome, the shape of which is still maintained by an open space and three surviving artifacts: the Obelisk of Pharaoh Thutmose III; the Walled/Bronze Obelisk; and the Serpentine Column, the latter made by the Greeks to commemorate their victory over the Persians at Plataea.

Computer generated drawing of the Hippodrome

Foreground: Serpent Column; background: Obelisk of Tutmose III


Atop the emperor’s box (the white section of the figure) was a quadriga: a chariot pulled by four horses. Those horses were taken by the Venetians in the 4th Crusade and now are in the church of San Marco in Venice. The Turkish government has requested their return even though the Turks were not in control of Constantinople at the time of the 4th Crusade in 1204. At the southern end of the Great Palace and now the area of the Arasta Rendering of Delphi Bazaar is the Great Palace Mosaic Museum, Tripod which houses the mosaics used to decorate the pavement of a peristyle court, dating possibly to the reign of Byzantine emperor Justinian I (r. 527-565).

Mosaic at the Great Palace Museum

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Day 13: September 26, 2011 The plan for this day was to take a tram and a funicular to Taksim, now the center of modern Istanbul, and walk downhill to Karaköy at the Golden Horn. While I very much enjoy seeing ancient Greek and Ottoman artifacts, I also wanted to observe current Turkish society. Taksim and the major pedestrian street leading down to Karaköy, Ýstikal Caddesi, formerly the Grand Rue de Pera, would certainly enable us to see the affluent and hip element of Istanbul. But what about the less fortunate? Most of them live in the distant suburbs, but through an article on the website of National Public Radio, I learned of an enclave of Kurds in a district called Tarlabasi.1 Formerly an enclave of wealthy Greeks as recently as 50 years ago, it was now a ‘slum’ in terms of the conditions of its buildings and overcrowding of its housing. It also is a haven for social outcasts in addition to Kurds: drug addicts, Arabs, Iraqi refugees and transvestites. However, since it is close to the affluent city center, private developers, and now city officials, are making plans for redeveloping the area which will certainly conflict with the locals. We walked down the narrow streets whose houses seemed in better condition than those in Fener. Grocery shops were selling their produce, all of which looked fresh. Women were conversing with each other from their windows. Laundry was drying from clotheslines strung from jetties. Children were returning home from school. It all seemed quite normal.

House in Tarlabasi

We turned south and then southwest on Ýstikal Caddesi. We made a quick tour through the Cité de Péra or Flower Passage, a miniature version of the famous Galleria in Milan. We then found ourselves in an arcade of souvenir shops that enticed Judy and Kathy to inspect some merchandise. I spotted a silver tray in an antique shop and made a bid well below the asking price. The proprietor answered with a firm “no.” Such were my bargaining skills.

Jack and Judy are collectors of antiques, and so I was particularly happy that I had found a section of Istanbul that Strollers on Ýstikal Caddesi hosts 150 antique shops: Çukurcuma. In addition to the ordinary, Çukurcuma specializes in Ottoman antiques, such as a candelabra with an Ottoman sultan's signature. Perhaps such an item would not be impressive in Missouri, and so no purchases were made. Antique shop in Çukurcuma

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I tried to lead our little band out of the neighborhood northwest in order to visit the Pera Palace Hotel, but my attempts were futile, and every mistake meant a trek uphill. Uncharacteristically, I admitted defeat quickly and flagged a taxi. Kathy and I had stayed at the Pera Palace in 2005. I had chosen this hotel because of its storied past: the lodging for passengers of the Orient Express; the place were Agatha Christy wrote her novel of murder on the same such train; the hangout and watering hole for the Western press corp during the Great War; and the initial residence of Mustafa Kemal before he moved to larger quarters at Dolmabache Palace. Unfortunately, there had been little in the way of renovation since those times. But Kathy had said that the hotel had been renovated and worth a visit. We pulled up to the entrance where the doorman greeted us and opened our car doors. Trying to act nonchalant, I led our group inside expecting to be confronted from wandering about. Instead, a bellman greeted us, and Pera Palace Hotel after I stated that my wife and I had stayed there a few years ago, volunteered to escort us about the hotel. It was impressive to say the least though photographs do not capture the elegance and fine taste exhibited. We resumed our line of march down Ýstikal Caddesi to Tünel, and took the funicular to Karaköy. We wove our way through a neighborhood of shops that specialize in heavy equipment: sump pumps, drills, generators, bathroom fixtures. Istanbul obviously has a very loose zoning ordinance, if any. We reached the banks of the Golden Horn, and found a semi-circular bench which we shared with a Turkish family dressed in traditional black garb. We simply enjoyed the sight of this exotic city, and gazed at the skyline, trying to identify the various landmarks of mosques and palaces. As it was about five o’clock, and ferryboats were plying the estuary. I floated the idea of taking a small boat across to Eminönü instead of the tram, but was torpedoed three to one.

View of Stamboul from Karaköy

Day 14: September 27, 2011 The Paolini’s and the Donovan’s decided to go their separate ways for the day: the Donovan’s for a ferryboat tour of the Bosphorus and the Paolini’s for a walking tour of Stamboul. Kathy and I started at Fatih Mosque complex which was constructed by order of Sultan Mehmet (II) the Conqueror from 1463-1471, on the site of the former Byzantine Church of the Holy Apostles. We immediately found the türbe (mausoleum) of Mehmet II. It is a decagonal structure crowned with an imposing dome. The size of Mehmet’s sarcophagus and his turban was much larger than those of the sultans at Hagia Sophia, though I have not been able to learn how the size is determined. There were a few people reading, the Koran presumably, though I could not quite understand why they were doing so as Mehmet, while Muslim, was a political-warrior leader and not a religious figure per se.

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Expecting an arduous search, we found the Column of Marcian quite easily. It is an imposing column but in a rather pedestrian setting, literally. My next objective was the house of Amcazade Köprülü Hüseyin Pasha which supposedly had been converted to an architectural museum but it became obvious that I had erred in identifying its location and so we sought the ruins of the church of St. Polyeuctus, which has been designated an archaeological park by the city. There wasn’t much to view but the story is quite fascinating. When the Emperor Justinian entered Hagia Sophia upon its completion, he was heard to whisper, “Solomon, I have surpassed thee.” For years historians had assumed that he was referring to the temple of Solomon in Jerusalem. Recent finding provide an alternative interpretation. This church fell into ruin, and several of its decorative elements were then used in other constructions,2 and finally it was built over during the Ottoman period. It was rediscovered in the 1960's during the construction of a new highway.

Base of the column of Marcian

The Church of St. Polyeuctus was built by the noblewoman Anicia Juliana and dedicated to Saint Polyeuctus.3 Intended as an assertion of Juliana's own imperial lineage, it was a lavishly decorated building, and the largest church of the city before the construction of the Hagia Sophia. It introduced the large-scale use of Sassanid Persian decorative elements, and may have inaugurated the new architectural type of domed basilica, perfected in the later Hagia Sophia. The dedicatory inscription of Juliana's church is described as: "...a floridly rhetorical poem of seventy-six lines that originally encircled the entire central space of the church; it praises Juliana's distinguished lineage (she could claim descent from the Emperor Theodosius I) and proclaims that ‘She alone has conquered time and surpassed the wisdom of renowned Solomon.'”4 Possibly Juliana believed that she was destined to be an empress, or the mother of an emperor, but her family had been pushed aside by the family of Justinian, which was of extremely humble origins. Juliana’s disgust was profound, and the church of Saint Polyeuctus is as much the result of thwarted political ambition as of piety. It was completed in 527, the very year in which Justinian came to the throne. Justinian is reported to have visited the church on at least one occasion, and could not have failed to read the dedicatory poem with irritation. Perhaps then his statement was intended to make it clear that he had finally outdone the Solomon-imitating Juliana.

Turkish Tray Table

Palmette capitals from St. Poleuctus surmount columns of the façade of San Marco, and the two sumptuously decorated pilasters that stand nearby in the piazzetta, which for long thought to have come from Acre, were undoubtedly part of the same parcel of loot taken by the Crusaders in 1204. Polyeuctus had openly converted to Christianity. "Enflamed with zeal, St Polyeuctus went to the city square, and tore up the edict of Decius which required everyone to worship idols. A few moments later, he met a procession carrying twelve idols through the streets of the city. He dashed the idols to the ground and trampled them underfoot."
4 3


Ash, John, A Byzantine Journey, Random House, New York, 1995.

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On our visit in 2005, I told our guide that I wanted to purchase a tray that Turks sit around to have their tea. I remember that we passed under Valen’s aqueduct and entered a shop that was quite disheveled. A couple of guys were buffing trays so as to remove the tin and expose the copper. Obviously this was a wholesale shop that sold to the shops in the bazaar. I wasn’t sure whether or not I could find the same shop, but sure enough, it was right where I thought it was. I wanted another tray, and Jared had said that he wanted “something metal,” and so I wanted two trays. I walked five feet into the store, looked down at a row of trays and found exactly what I wanted: one large one and one slightly smaller. I remember that I had paid about 60TL in 2005, so, figuring some inflation, I estimated 100TL for the large and 60TL for the small–a total of 160TL. The proprietor was on the phone and so he had his daughter deal with me. Covered with a white head-scarf and blue, full-length robe, she was sweet and charming, but spoke no English. I was prepared to drive a hard bargain. She talked to her father, weighed the two trays, and then wrote the price on a pad of paper: 120TL. So much for my pricing and bargaining skills. But I was happy with my purchase. Back on the trail of antiquities, we searched for the Atif Mustafa Efendi library, only because I had seen photographs and it seemed to be a very interesting building. Our search was in vain, even with map, compass, and supposedly helpful directions from the locals. Somewhat lost and weary, we hailed a taxi in order to reach Beyazit Square, formerly the Forum of the Tauri (bulls) and then the Forum of Theodosius during the Byzantine period. Mehmet the Conqueror build his first palace on the site before constructing Topkapý. The Ottoman Ministry of War was then erected in 1870, the gate being its surviving artifact. The site is now the campus of Istanbul University. We wended our way through the Kapalý Çarºý or Covered Bazaar, thinking that we might visit some hans, that is, buildings that served as workshops and outlets for artisans. We found nothing of interest, and our legs were strongly urging us to rest. We emerged at Çemberlitaº meaning the ‘hooped column’ in Turkish; it was the Column of Constantine. In its original form, a statue of Constantine as Apollo was on top (see figure). It was still a thrill to see this monument that dates to the year 330 of the common era. Our last stop was the mosque and turbesi of Mahmut II, the sultan that did much to reform the declining Ottoman Empire. It was closed for repair, so we strolled about the cemetery which included such notables as Ziya Gökalp (died October 25, 1924) who was a Turkish sociologist, writer, Column of Constantine poet, and political activist. As a sociologist and writer, he was influential in the overhaul of religious perceptions and evolving of Turkish nationalism.

Ziya Gökalp

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We also found the tomb of Hasan Fehmi Bey who was the editor-in-chief of Serbestî, an Ottoman newspaper, in which he wrote articles critical of the Committee of Union and Progress. He was murdered on the evening of April 6, 1909, as he was crossing the Galata Bridge in Istanbul, by unidentified assailants. Istanbul retains is reputation as a city of intrigue. A week before our arrival in the city, it was reported in the International Herald Tribune that three Chechens had been murdered in Zeytinburnu, the last stop on the T1 metro.

Day 15: September 28, 2011 The Donovan’s and the Paolini’s again went their separate ways for the morning: Jack and Judy to tour Dolmabache Palace while Kathy and I went to the district called Tophane which featured Tophane-i Amire or the Academy of Fine Arts. The Academy is housed in a former cannon foundry. We had attempted to visit this gallery on our prior trips; alas, it was three strikes and still out. The gallery was closed for remodeling. Across the street was the Kiliç Ali Paºa mosque and fountain. We removed our shoes and entered the mosque, no other persons present. It was quite impressive–and peaceful. Further north we encountered the Tophane Pavilion, constructed by order of Sultan Abdul Mecid in 1852. It was used by the sultans when visiting these weapons factories in the neighborhood and also to receive foreign guests coming to the port by the sea, such as the Russian Czar's brother Grand duke Konstantin. It is no wonder that the Ottoman Empire went into severe debt to the Western powers to finance these extravagant buildings for little-used purposes. The building is now used for a technical school. One mosque per day is usually my limit, but as we approached and examined the Nusretiye mosque, we were wordlessly invited to enter. The interior was quite plain compared to the Rococo exterior but it had one distinctive feature that Kathy quickly identified somewhat indignantly: “That’s for me.” In the second floor gallery was a slightly projecting jetty with a gold mesh screen to obscure the faces of the ladies attending the call to prayer. There was one last hope to visit an art gallery: Istanbul Modern. We approached with trepidation. Was it going to be closed? But it was open, and it was fabulous! No photographs were allowed to be taken but I did find a few on the Internet that I’ve presented here. Nusretiye mosque

Ceiling of Books Wriggling trees

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A simple but clever exhibit was a (false) ceiling of books which were hanging from the high ceiling of the gallery’s library. The most intriguing exhibit was a series of three video screens projected on the wall of trees, the branches of which morphed so as to appear to wriggle similar to a snakes. It was fascinating and a bit eerie. The most interesting exhibit was the interview of a woman who recalled her childhood experiences while on the island of Cyprus: "1+1=1 North to South, South to North" by Kutlug Ataman. This piece consisted of two simultaneously projected conversations of one woman's account of living on Cyprus. She describes her experience living in the Northern Turkish part of Cyprus and then moving in the 1970s to the south to live as a Turk among mostly Greeks in Southern Cyprus. Sad but fascinating! We emerged into bright sunlight and the awesome size of the Queen Victoria docked adjacent to the museum. It is a monster!

Queen Victoria of the Cunard Line

We took and taxi to Dolmabache and found Jack and Judy; then another taxi to Yildiz Park. We had a delightful lunch in the Malta Pavilion.
Jack Donovan

I had hoped that we would stroll about the park but eventually tour the grounds and buildings of Yildiz Palace, the palace of the last sovereign of the Ottomans, Abdul Hamid II. Unfortunately for us all, I failed to note that there was a line on the map which represented a wall that separated the park from the palace, and so we spent much time and energy climbing and descending in several futile attempts. We finally did reach the palace complex but it was impossible to communicate with the staff as to what we could actually see–that is, which buildings were open to the public. We concluded that not much was open, and so we only toured the museum which is housed in the Bavarian style building. Though it had been used by Abdul Hamid, it had been converted to other uses between 1908 and its conversion to a museum, and so it was impossible to determine how it was used during his reign. The state apartments, where I assumed he and his harem lived, was closed to public of course. It was rather disappointing to say the least.

Day 16: September 29, 2011 The first Ottoman palace built by the conqueror of Constantinople, Mehmet II, was located on the site of the Forum Tauri or Forum of the Bulls, later the Forum of Theodosius. He soon realized that he wanted a more secluded area for his residence and administrative center, and so in 1459 he began construction of his “New Palace” located on the acropolis of the original city of Byzantion. The “New Palace” was completed in 1478 and later took the name Topkapý or Cannon Gate based on a building housing a cannon located at a gate near the palace but which no longer exists. Topkapý was used as the palace of the sultans until the reign of Abdul Mecid I in 1856.

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Topkapý is not a building but a complex of edifices that constituted a city in itself (pop. 5,000); and as such, it is overwhelming for a tourist. Intending to beat the crowds, we visited the harem first for which Kathy and I shared an audio guide plus a guide book.5 The place is literally a maze of corridors, rooms (over 300), and a few courtyards. It seems that “every sultan ordered some renovations and additions according to changing needs and taste.”6 After a short while, I lost all sense of direction. The walls of the corridors and rooms were almost completely tiled, but the lack of sunlight and the gray of the floor and many of the walls made for a rather cold and hard atmosphere. I believe that it is commonly thought that the notion of a harem is of oriental origin, but in fact the ancient and Byzantine Greeks had their gynaeceum; similar to the harem, a section of the imperial palace of Constantinople, known as the gynaikonitis, was reserved for women. It had its own ceremonial rites and processions as well as political dynamics. The harem served as a training institution for future concubines of the sultan and wives of the elite royal pages in the residential area. Young girls were bought at the slave market, having been abducted in territories A harem room conquered by the Ottomans. “Almost every sultan’s mother was of Christian origin.”7 As the tour of the palace consists of viewing one beautiful building after another, it is difficult to differentiate, though I think the most interesting was the Arz Odasý (Throne Room or Chamber of Petitions), not for its appearance but the protocol used here. While used to review the policy proposals of the divan, (Imperial Council), with his viziers, it was also used to received ambassadors of foreign powers upon their arrival and departure.8 The sultan neither spoke nor looked at the foreign ambassador, for it would be beneath him to address another Throne in the Chamber of person of lower station, and so the dialog Petitions Entrance Arz Odasi) would be between ambassador and interpreter in the vestibule while he listened and looked away.

Karaz, Claire, Topkapi Palace: Inside and Out: A Guide to the Topkapi Palace Museum and Grounds, Çitlembik Publications, 2004.


Ibid., p. 74. Ibid. p. 87. until the Sublime Porte took on this role in 1755.



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Besides the many grand kiosks, Topkaý provides magnificent views of the Sea of Marmara, Beyoðlu, the entrance of the Bosphorus, and the cities of Üsküdar (the ancient city of Chrysopolis) and Kadiköy (the ancient city of Chalcedon) on the Asian continent .

View from Topkapý of the Golden Horn

Looking down from this ancient acropolis, one can view the ruins of the ancient Bucoleon Palace that laid along the waters and described by its conquerors of the Fourth Crusade when Boniface of Montferrat:
Ruins of Bucoleon Palace and the statue of Turgut Reis

"rode all along the shore to the palace of Bucoleon, and when he arrived there it surrendered, on condition that the lives of all therein should be spared. At Bucoleon were found the larger number of the great ladies who had fled to the castle, for there were found the sister of the King of France, who had been empress, and the sister of the King of Hungary, who had also been empress, and other ladies very many. Of the treasure that was found in that palace I cannot well speak, for there was so much that it was beyond end or counting." (Villehardouin)
Computer-generated-drawing of Bucoleon Palace

The remnants of the walls and towers still stand, but adjacent to them stands a new conqueror, not of these shores but of those of Italy when under the auspices of the Republic of Venice, the Kingdom of Naples, and the Kingdom of Sicily in the 16th century: Turgut Reis. He was an Ottoman Admiral and privateer who captured ships (and their cargoes of goods and men) sailing in the Mediterranean, and raided and sacked towns and villages along the coast, bring much booty to his sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent.
Turgut Reis

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We retraced our steps to the first courtyard of Topkapý, and descended to Osman Hamdi Bey Yokuºu Sokak (street) and entered the courtyard of two magnificent museums: the Istanbul Archaeological Museum and the Çinili Köºk (Tiled Museum). It would seem that most of the important archeological finds, and certainly most of the larger items, are stored in this museum. It is huge, and after a few hours, our legs were aching and most of us had to rest; Kathy and I, however, kept walking the corridors and snapping photographs as I went. Most of the first floor contains Roman statues, many copies of Greek originals, and some of colossal size. I briefly viewed these as I had seen them before but my main objective was to view the Byzantine chain that had been laid across the Golden Horn estuary to prevent enemy ships from attacking the more vulnerable sea walls of the city. Having failed in many previous attempts at finding intended sites about the city, I was apprehensive that I would fail again, but as Kathy and I turned into the first corridor of the second floor, there it lay.
Byzantine chain

I then began to find remnants of the various churches that I had identified in my plans for the walking tours of the city, and also the statues and reliefs of pediments. I was continuously amazed at the size and workmanship of these pieces–that they had been accomplished by artisans with tools that must be crude and inefficient by today’s standards. Note the almost perfect curvature of this marble vase which is about three feet in diameter; and the dynamic features of this frieze entitled, The Thracian Warrior.

Marble Vase

Thracian Warrior

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Day 17: September 30, 2011

Jack & Judy Donovan Kathy & Rod Paolini

Our flight home was scheduled for 10:50am, and the departure would have been uneventful had Kathy and I combined our talents. In passing through Turkish security, we unknowingly received each other’s boarding pass. Prior to boarding, Kathy notice that she could not find her boarding pass, and when I looked at mine, I notice that I had it. But now where was mine? We found an information booth and the guy said that we could either return to the check-in or proceed to boarding and explain our plight. I favored the former; Kathy favored the latter. Since it was easier to reach the latter, we did so and found to our delight that someone had found my boarding pass and given it to the airline boarding staff. No matter how well an airline serves it customers, there is little that can be done to lessen the discomfort of a twelve-hour flight. The flight to Türkiye was at night, and while one was tired, it was almost impossible to sleep. The flight home was during the day and so everyone was wide-awake but could amuse themselves with reading or watching the various movies. On a three-seat row, my adjacent companion in the middle seat was a young boy of about four years old, and adjacent to him was his mother. I suppose that twenty years ago, I would have abhorred the idea of a child sitting beside my on a plane, especially for twelve hours; but perhaps I’m mellowing and looking forward to grandchildren, or maybe it was because of the children that I had seen in Türkiye. They were so good-looking! They seemed so fresh and joyful–not sullen and whiney. Perhaps the reason was that their parents were so involved with them, especially their fathers. If you note the picture of the family walking down Ýstikal Caddesi (day 13), it is the father

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that is pushing the stroller while the mother is on the cellular telephone! That the father is tending the child was common. The children are often held and caressed. I remarked on this during the tour of Yedikule to our guide, Ahmet, and several other tourists said that they had noticed the same behavior. Ahmet said that in Türkiye, it is common, and quite acceptable, for a man (and presumably a woman) to give a child, even one that is a complete stranger, a pat on the head, a caress of the face, or a hug. He said that he was warned not to do so in America. And so I quite enjoyed sitting next to Adrian: drawing, playing the computer games, or just talking. After about six or seven hours, he finally fell asleep in his mother’s arms, and so we had a brief chat. She was returning from a visit to her parents in her native country Uzbekistan. She and her husband had recently moved from Alaska to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; so I could only conclude that he was in oil business. Uzbekistan had deteriorated since the withdrawal of the Soviet Union, she said. The country was absolutely corrupt, and as a consequence, foreign investment had dwindled. She was quite happy to have emigrated and become a citizen of the United States. For all our craziness and short-comings, America is a wonderful place, and I’m very proud to be an American.

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