Contact Us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

You can edit the text in this area, and change where the contact form on the right submits to, by entering edit mode using the modes on the bottom right. 

           

123 Street Avenue, City Town, 99999

(123) 555-6789

email@address.com

 

You can set your address, phone number, email and site description in the settings tab.
Link to read me page with more information.

Articles Blog

Istanbul, Turkey

Karyn Planett

Mosques and Minarets on the Sea of Marmara

As Crystal Harmony edges toward one of the world's most mystical cities, you might well be reminded of a passage on Istanbul written by Sacheverell Sitwell in his Arabesque and Honeycomb.   "Our ship makes a sweep towards it, and in that moment we see before and in front of us the opening of the Golden Horn, and one after another all the Imperial Mosques of Istanbul standing against and upon the skyline....It is the most sensational revelation: one after another of these great domes as in a panorama, they stand there on the sky-line like huge kettle-drums with something menacing and martial in their air, and in that moment it is more of a capital than any other city, more than London, or than Rome, or Paris.  It must be the most wonderful site for a great capital there has ever been."

The Rich Tapestry of History

Volumes have been written about Istanbul's fascinating and exotic past.  Throughout the centuries many rulers have marched  across this strategic soil.  Their blades have sliced their actions indelibly into the history books.  Their presence has been etched into the monuments that decorate the streets.  Their myths still linger long after they have gone.

Early Greeks, who journeyed here in 658 B.C. from the Peloponnesus peninsula in southern Greece, were credited with the actual founding of the city of what was then Byzantium.  They utilized this area as a supply point for their vessels plying between the Black Sea and their colonies.  The Persians later gained control of the region, but ultimately lost this control, in 334 B.C., to Alexander the Great.

In time an important treaty was signed between Byzantium and the rulers in Rome.  And with this treaty, the area became part of the vast and powerful Roman Empire.  Constantine the Great, one of Rome's most successful leaders, felt the empire needed to be carved up into smaller, more manageable districts.  Thus, with four regions under his control, he declared Byzantium as the capital.

The Byzantine emperor Justinean ruled from 527-565 A.D. and under his rule, the city prospered.  He ordered the building of St. Sophia, which then sparked the construction of many other mosques in the same design.

Mehmet II, also known as "Faith the Conqueror", took the city in 1453.  His troops rebuilt the city and bestowed upon it the name "Istanbul."  The Topkapi Palace, built in 1468, was actually Mehmet's summer residence.

Enter Suleyman I, "The Magnificent", who was in power from 1520 to 1566.  Under his reign the city again flourished as this progressive-minded ruler led the entire Ottoman Empire to new heights in architecture, art, law, and literature.  He was also responsible for the construction of the magnificent Suleymaniye mosque, reputed to be one of Islam's most notable.

This century saw the rise of Mustafa Kemal.  He is best known as Ataturk which translates to mean "Father of the Turks."  He was known as the founder of modern Turkey and became the first president.  Through his efforts, the country was literally catapulted into the 20th century.  He "westernized" Turkey and introduced the Latin alphabet.  Industries were modernized.  Women were fully emancipated.  Islam was "disestablished", although it remains the dominant religion to this day.

Today, Turkey enjoys her independence and continues to march toward prosperity.

A Long List of Sights

If you have only enough time to visit Istanbul's "Big Three" then do so.  But with several days to explore you could wander through rich museums, stroll the Galata Bridge, sip Turkish coffee in a covered bazaar, and enjoy a massage and Turkish bath.  If not, just do the "Big Three."

The Topkapi Palace, which overlooks the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn, was the summer residence of the Ottoman sultans and  their harems from the 15th to the mid-19th centuries.  At one time it was the home of some 5,000 residents.  Today, it is one of the world's richest museums with fabulous displays of porcelains, carpets, and miniatures.  Magnificent jewels are found in the popular Treasury, which can be quite crowded.  It is said that two uncut emeralds, each weighing about 8 pounds, once hung from the ceiling here.

Sancta Sophia, also known as the Basilica of St. Sophia, is one of the world's most famous religious structures.  Built by Emperor Justinian in 537 A.D., its former riches of gold and silver sadly have vanished at the hands of the Crusaders.  The Turks converted this basilica into a mosque and altered the architecture with the addition of four large minarets.

The Blue Mosque, or the Mosque of Sultan Ahmet, faces St. Sophia.  Its peculiar name comes from the magnificent interior decoration of more than 20,000 blue Iznik tiles.  However, the most distinctive feature of this mosque is its six minarets.

Istanbul is so unique for she bridges two continents, Europe and Asia, where the shores of the Bosphorus greet the Black Sea, the Sea of Marmara, and the Golden Horn.  It is truly where the East rubs shoulders with the West.