Sunday, 26 March 2017

Istanbul - The Travellers' Tales Resume

It's taken me months to pick up the story of our holiday.  Although we were in Berlin one morning and in Istanbul in the afternoon I just didn't seem to be able to finish the story and over 4 months have passed since I wrote about Berlin. I'm not exactly sure why:  laziness; a feeling that the "European Holiday" finished in Berlin; distraction; something else?  Whatever the reason, the story should continue as we very much enjoyed our time in Istanbul.  

On Thursday 14th January we left Berlin's Tegel airport and flew on a Turkish Airlines A321 to Istanbul's Ataturk airport, arriving there at about 3:15.

First views of Istanbul as our plane approaches the airport.
Some of the many tour boats can be seen.
Sections of the city walls.  The walls were built in stages over more than a thousand
years of the city's existence 
by Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and Ottoman Turks .

As we were driven from the airport to our small hotel in the Old Town we skirted the edge of the modern Istanbul with its tall towers, blocks of apartments, department stores and bright advertising lights.  In the failing day light our driver took us through gates in the Old City Wall and through some run-down (and falling down) areas which had us wondering what we were in for.  However there was nothing to fear as our small hotel (the "Bon Old City Hotel") in the heart of the Old City was charming, comfortable, and very well situated, with friendly and helpful staff.  From our window we could see (parts of) the famous Hagia Sofia.

Our first day ended with a short walk to get our bearings and dinner in a nearby cafe.  The hotel staff booked us onto a mini-bus tour and cruise for the following day and that is when our memories and impressions of Istanbul really begin.

After breakfast on Friday 15th January we were collected and driven to a pier crowded with tour boats of various sizes, from quite small to some capable of carrying at least a couple of hundred passengers.  From our starting point near the Galata Bridge we motored northeast, staying close to the northern shore of the Bosphorus Strait to make the best of the views on this grey and hazy morning.   From the deck we saw mosques, the Dolmabahce Palace, the naval College and other noteworthy sites before reaching the Bosporus Bride which links the European and Asian parts of Istanbul.
The "New Mosque" (Yeni Cami)  near the ferry terminal.  It was begun in 1597 but not completed (with redesign and reconstruction of abandoned work) in 1665. 

Some of the many ferries which operate in the waters
of the Bosphorus Straight and the Golden Horn.

The Galata Tower ("Galata Kulesi" in Turkish, "Christea Turris" in Latin)
was part of the defence network built by the Genoese in 1348.

The Molla Çelebi Mosque (also known as the Fındıklı Mosque) or even as
"The Hazelnut" is an Ottoman mosque located in the  neighborhood
of Beyoğlu district in Istanbul, Turkey.  It was opened in 1584.

The Dolmabahce Palace was built on reclaimed land  between 1843 and 1856 as a "modern palace" to replace the medieval Topkapi Palace used by Sultans since 1465.  Only 6 Sultans used the palace before the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the abolition of the Caliphate in 1924.  Kamal Ataturk, the first President of Modern Turkey lived here until his death in 1938.  Since then it has been a museum and memorial.  It was designed as a modern palace with all the latest conveniences.

The Dolmabahce Palace

The "MY Savarona" is the Presidential Yacht of the Republic of Turkey.  Built in
Germany in 1931 for an American heiress it was briefly a private yacht and a film set (1933) before it was bought in 1938 for the President who spent only 6 weeks aboard before dying in 1938.  It was used as a training ship, and was also leased as a luxury cruise ship before being reclaimed by the government in 2014 for official purposes.

The small "Mecidiye Camii" mosque sits close to the northern end of
the Bosphorus Bridge linking the European and Asian parts of Istanbul.

A section of the old walls and the Rumelihisari Fortress.  It was built
in 1451 outside the existing walls before the Ottoman conquest of
Constantinople in 1453 to prevent aid and relief reaching the besieged city.
After our cruise we had lunch before entering the Dolmabahce palace for a guided tour (sorry no photos permitted inside the buildings).

At this point I got rather lazy - I'll extend and finish this off one day as there are many more photos I could (and should) add.

The bridge joining "European"
and  "Asian" parts of Istanbul.
One of the many mosques along the highway
from Western to Eastern parts of the city.
Traffic jams across the Bosphorus

A Turkish carpet weaver works painstakingly
to reproduce the template shown below.

.... more to come ....

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