Turkey Things to Do Tips by deecat
Turkey Things to Do: 1,115 reviews and 1,738 photos
St. Sophia Museum
1. St. Sophia
2. Domes and Minaret from window of St. Sophia
3. Renovation on St. Sophia
4. Inside St. Sophia
5. Mary and John the Baptist beside Christ [mosaics] inside St. Sophia
The earliest church was built during Emperor Constantinus's reign and in basilica form with a wooden roof. It was the cathedral for the city and calledMegala Ekklesia. But, from the Vth century on, it was known as the church of Divine Wisom-Hagia Sophia. This original church burned down and was rebuilt and destoryed several times by earthquakes.
Built over the ruins of two older churches by Justinian the Great, the Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya) was the largest place of worship until St. Peter's Rome Cathedral was completed. So, for 1,000 years ...Sofia reined as largest place of worship.
When the Turkish conquered Constaninople in 1453, they turned it into a mosque. The Moslems added four minerats at the corners of the building. It is now a museum and called St. Sophia Museum and has been since 1935.
As you enter Aya Sofia, you pass remains of earlier churches. In the vaulted outer vestibule original mosaics from Justinian's time is observable. When the Ottomans converted the church into a Mosque and plastered over the tiled paintings, they did so because they were afraid that the people would go back to paganism. This, inadvertently, preserved the paintings!
Most impressive is the gigantic dome is 56m high and 31m across. Because of all the restorations done at various periods, this dome is no longer entirely circular; it has gradually become elliptical! Our guide informed us that the calligraphic discs and mosaics in the Sophia Museum are the largest in the Islamic world.
Jayne and I wandered all over and marveled at the splendor of this vast edifice. The remarkable mosaics, the vast dome, the spiritual awakening add up to an unforgettable experience.
Go early or late to avoid the crowds.
Address: In the Sultanhamet
1. Blue Mosque from across the street.
2. Upclose details of Blue Mosque
3. Entrance to Blue Mosque
4. Blue Mosque at Night
5. Interior of Blue Mosque
Built between 1609 and 1616, the Blue Mosque is quite impressive. Sultan Ahmet had it built in the hopes of outdoing its neighbor, the Aya Sofia. I don't think that Ahmet's plan was successful, but it was close!
Personally, I like the color of the Blue Mosque more than the Aya Sofia. The massive dome which is supported by several smaller domes is quite unique. This astonishing dome is suspended in air by four elephantine columns.
Inside, the mosque has 50 different types of tiles and there are over 21,000 of them! They come in all colors, predominately red, blue, green, and yellow.
It's the stained glass windows that I enjoyed the most. As the sun came in the windows and reflected all around this massive structure, it was magical. (should not say magic in a house of worsphip, huh)
Jayne and I loved all the color in this splendid Mosque.
Entrance is FREE and since it is such a popular attraction, go early to avoid the crowds.
Times that it is open: 9:00 to 18:00
Address: Across from the Hippodrome (Sultanahmet)
Marble Road to Ephesus
1. Marble road to Ephesus. Christians left signs in the marble on the roads to let people know about Christianity. It was their secret graffiti!
2. Cathedral of St. John
3. Marble columns of the cathedral of St. Johnj
I personally feel that Ephesus is the best ruins I have seen in the countries I have visited.
Our tour guide, Ilhome, gave us wonderful background information on this remarkable place so that we could use our imaginations to fill in all the voids which exist in any partially excavated city.
He challenged us with the question, "How long did these stones of Ephesus lie silent just waiting for the German railroad builder to knock a hole in the buried wall and change his career to archaeologist?"
Upon hearing this, I just thought of all the people who have died, religions that have grown, wars that have been fought, inventions that have flourished, and, still, the stones are here, silent & historical.
He told us that some people call Ephesus "Efes", which literally means "bee".
First a temple was built to the goddes called Artemis (Diana), goddess of the hunt, the moon, & often named Mother Goddess.
There was a large migration all over Asia and Europe to find new trade centers. The Greek migrants left their wives, killed all the men in Ephesus & took their women. They built a gym & had easy games for the old, and rigorous games for the young. It became a large political marketplace. Long discussions started here, which was the birth of philosophy.
The Cathedral of St. John was built in the 6th century A.D. using stones and marble columns from other periods. He was buried here, but his bones were stolen.
Ephesus became a thriving city until the 3rd or 4th century. It was finally abandoned because of the swamps (formed by the silting up of the harbor).
As we walked into the town, we saw the arches, the Marble street, the theatre, the mosaic sidewalks, the columns, & the statues. So much to take in.
Address: The ruins of Ephesus
Sanctuary to Sacrifice Animals
Photographs at Troy:
1. This is a photograph of a sanctuary which was used from 700 B.C. until 300 A.D. to sacrifice animals.
2. This is a photograph of the levels indicating the different Troy cities; one build atop another.
Troy was settled in 3,000 B.C. and is the oldest city that had walls. There were NINE Troys, one built on top of each other.
In the beginning, Troy was by the sea (which has receded). Excavations have identified a sequence of nine principal layers of cities representing nine periods in which houses were built, a city formed and then ultimately destroyed.
Troy VIIa was destroyed by fire some time about the 13th century BC and is probably the city that Priam described in Homer's "Iliad". The first Troy had no written words. The Trojan Horse story was a myth passed from one generation to the next by word of mouth.
When the ruins were discovered, a large part of the site was destroyed by an amateur archaeologist. Over 300 pieces were taken; in 1994, these pieces were found in a Russian Museum. They had been missing since the Second World War. They have not been returned.
Other Contact: Near city of Canakkale,Turkey
Marble road through Epesus leads to Library
1. Panoramic of Marble road through Ephesus leading to the Library.
2. Close-up of the Celsus Library.
I feel that the most spectacular ruin here at Ephesus is the Celcus Library which was built to honor Tiberius Celcus after he died in 114 AD.
The library was built from 120-130 AD.
This library is three stories high and cleverly engineered to appear wider than it is, taller than it is, giving the impression of reaching into the heavens. The elaborate facade shelters four female statues that represent the VIRTUES: knowledge, friendship, understanding, and wisdom.
The building material is Marble, which probably is the reason that it is still in such great shape. 12,000 scrolls made of Papyrus were kept here. This library is the symbol of the knowledge and philosophy which abounded in this wonderful city of Ephesus at one time.
Other Contact: In the Ephesus Ruins
Pergamun village acropolis
Note: The photo is a panoramic; thus, you need to click it to see the entire view.
Bergama, formerly called Pergamum, has two historical sites, the Acropolis and Asclepion.
The photograph is of the Acropolis. The Pergamum acropolis was a Trojan Temple with six columns by ten columns. It was the largest indoor theatre in Turkey. 10,000 people could be seated inside. The city was a great center of culture. All pictures, sculptures, and reliefs have been taken by Germany to their own museums!
Much of the hilltop city of Pergamum was build aroud 150 BC by Eumenes II. Today, a significant portion remains, including the Middle City halfway up the hill. It includes the steeply sloped theatre, a huge library (said to once have held more than 200,000 volumes), and a spectacular marble Temple of Trajan at the peak.
So many distinguished scholars gathered at the library that the Egyptian scholars in charge of the great library at Alexandria feared a "brain drain" and put a ban on papyrus exports to Pergamum. So, the scholars here devised a method of writing on ANIMAL SKINS that later became known as "parchment" which meant literally, "from Pergamum"!
Little is left but the perimeter foundations, but, with an imagination, one can "see" the grandeur of the past.
Address: Bergama, Turkey
Ephesus Theatre ruins
As our tour guide said, "You have to use your imagination and see what once was here to really gain an appreciation of this Theatre."
1. Close-up photo of a portion of the Great Theater in Ephesus, Turkey.
2. Photograph of our tour group at the Great Theater. If you look closely, you will see deecat climbing up the middle stairs!
It was constructed of beautiful marble (which is still very much in evidence) and had stained glass windows near its top and a covered dome to keep the patrons sheltered from inclement weather.
Can you just imagine all the people in their colorful togas and amazing jewels sitting in the filtered lights of the stained glass windows? There they would sit enthralled with the music that played or the dramas that were reenacted.
Oh, yes, one needs an imagination such as mine to fully appreciate the splendor of the Ephesus Theatre.
The public toilets nearby are anything but private. In the homes in Ephesus there were bathrooms (with three seats together without partitions) so, no place was there privacy in toilets, public or private!
Floors were always covered with mosaics as was the public toilets. Also in the public toilets was a pool in the center of the room and surrounded by marble columns with marble statues of Eros (Cupid) riding on dolphins in the middle of the pool!
Other Contact: Ephesus
Panoramic View of Stadium
Please note that this photograph is a panoramic; thus, if you click on the photo, you will be able to see the entire view.
While on our tour of Ephesus, we saw the Stadium where chariot races were held. With our guide's descriptions, we were able to visualize the cheering crowds, the sounds of the chariot wheels racing below, and the chaos that often accompanied fights, wrecks, and heckling crowds.
The Stadium was renovated, and modern concerts were given here. However, the noise from the speakers caused damage to the ruins, so they had to quit having such concerts. This Stadium seat 30,000 people!5s*
Other Contact: Ephesus
Outside view of Virgin Mary's House
One of the first sites we visited in Turkey was the shrine of the Virgin Mary. It is located on the top of the "Bulbul" mountain (called Mt. Nightingale) and about 9 km before Ephesus. It's a lovely place where Mary may have spent her last days. Most feel that she came in the area with Saint John, who spent several years in the area to spread Christianity.
Supposedly, Mary preferred this remote place.
Her cottage is of typical Roman architecture, made entirely of stones. In the 4th Century AD, a church and grave monument were built and added to the cottage. Today, only the central part and a room on the right of the altar are open to the public. Really, the home looks more like a church than a house. At the exit of the church area, a source of salt water with curative properties can be found and drunk as well.
It's interesting to note that there is no tomb for Mary, only the remains of a house.
Whether one believes in Mary or not, this is an important place because it is a place where Catholics can worship in one room while Muslims worship in the next room, and, around the bend, is a provision for "pagans" to tie their prayer cloths to branches or on the lattices which were installed for that purpose.
1. The outside view of the Virgin Mary's house in a small community of about 100 people.
2. At Mt. Nightingale: Inside the Virgin Mary's house.
3. A soldier with an "Uzi gun" who is guarding Mary's House. [I found this quite ironic].
Directions: Top of Bulbul mountain (Mt. Nightingale) and 9 km before Ephesus.
Other Contact: Site on our tour agenda
Kemal Ataturk's Tomb in Ankara
Note: Photo is not mine
On our tour of Turkey, we found that on the Anatolian plateau, all roads lead to Ankara...so do all the railways and air routes. This is a city which is almost wholly modern, and it spreads out from a rocky hill enclosed by the enormous turreted walls of an ancient fortress. We discovered that it is, indeed, a well-planned city, but it is suffering from a serious growth problem. Our tour guide told us that it has gone from 30,00 to three million in 70 years.
It was Kemal Ataturk who chose Ankara as the capital of the new Turkish Republic. No one had any idea that it would become so large. They designed and built a spacious, small city with the government buildings in the center. It was then a garden city and remained so until about 1953 at which time Kemal Ataturk's body was moved to a huge tomb in a hill-top memorial park at the edgte of the built-up area.
Now, the tomb is well inside the built-up area. Ankara has grown well beyond the tomb in all directions. Many of the small, original garden city buildings have been taken down. Sadly, large blocks in concrete and glass have been built. Worse yet, on the outskirts of the city, there are now shacks have sprung up. People live here because it is where work exists.
Thankfully, the storks of the ancient city have survived all this population explosion. Turks believe that good luck comes to a place where storks nest, and Ankara has many, many storks. Our tour guide pointed them out to us.
In this part of Anatolia, there are many long-haired goats that are bred. From the goat hair, Angora wool (mohair) is manufactured.
Ankara has several universities, a symphony orchestra, opera, Museum of the Anatolian Civilizations, and a ballet company.
I enjoyed our visit to Ankara; I think you would enjoy it also.
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