The Mesmerising Topkapi Palace


So the first thing we did was we climbed up the path and up ahead of the Archaeological Museum. And then when we went up and saw the whole Imperial Courtyard lined with army men!!!! In Turkey, every young man Has to join the army for atleast a year. The logic is that this will make the Men a Little (=Read LOTS) smarter and sensitive (=:P) and also develop patriotic feelings. As well as get everyone to compulsorily do community service.

And just then we saw…!!!!???

What did we see?? That remains to be seen in another Story, Stay Tuned.

Now Continued!!!

The Topkapi Palace gate was large and imposing. I looked back on the crumbling palaces I’d seen in my travels and wished we would care about our history as much as we cared about money. India would have a lot more visitors then for we’ve got a cultural heritage worth the envy of any country.

The gate led us to the main courtyard where we looked at the huge grounds split up into a star. We walked into a room which in Indian Palaces is commonly known as Diwan-E-Khaas (or the room where the Sultan held meetings with the priests and noblemen). In Turkey though it was called the Imperial Council.

And as we entered..whoosh!! The ceiling stunned us. Such beautiful gilded paintings and maintained so well!! Plus there were spots demarcated as to where the Sultan sat and where the Council sat. We were 4 of us sharing one audio guide and so we had to pause for a while to catch on to all the information we were being told.

The council hall has multiple entrances both from inside the palace and from the courtyard. The porch consists of multiple marble and porphyry pillars, with an ornate green and white-coloured wooden ceiling decorated with gold. The floor is covered in marble. The entrances into the hall from outside are in the rococo style, with gilded grills to admit natural light. While the pillars are earlier Ottoman style, the wall paintings and decorations are from the later rococo period. Inside, the Imperial Council building consists of three adjoining main rooms. Two of the three domed chambers of this building open into the porch and the courtyard.

We do not have many photos from what we saw in other parts of Topkapi. The reason being, we passed the Imperial Treasury, The Jewellery Room, The Ancient Relic Room.

All these rooms had items precious to the National Heritage of Turkey which is why we were not allowed to click photographs.

The Imperial Treasury contained relics from the Byzantine Age. Also there were articles of daily use by the Ottoman Sultans. The collection we see now consist of gifts of ambassadors, enthronement gifts, and purchases of the Sultans themselves.

There were shields and armours encrusted with pearls and precious stones. There were fragrance holders and goblets made of gold with rubies and emeralds. Queens would be proud of their jewellery boxes so carefully preserved.

Even the Peacock Throne of Emperor Jehangir which was stolen by Nadir Shah and lost in time, was preserved. I don’t want to be biased to India but amongst the other jewels, our Indian throne shone through. The pearls were set so carefully and evenly. It was a delight to look at it. Of course i was happy it was preserved in Turkey and not in India.

 

This website was one that gave excellent descriptions of the Treasury Room relics.

http://www.ee.bilkent.edu.tr/~history/topkapi.html

 

There is a huge line getting into this exhibit. It is a hugely popular exhibit. At the entrance of the exhibit is the Ottoman Symbol for prosperity and money.

the huge rush for getting into the Treasury Exhibit

I’ve yet got the Room of Ancient Relics and other points to do. But that remains yet another part of the journey!!

Stay Tuned

Topkapı Palace: Back to the Ottoman Times


Day 4: 13th April

  

This was the day when we finally visited the Topkapı sarayı. This Palace is a spectacular example of the Ottoman exuberance as well as the passion the Turks have to conserve their wealth and monuments.

As soon as you enter the Topkapi, there are two paths, one which is called “Valentines Path” which is a path that leads a little into the grounds where couples can generally practice some PDA and an uphill road leading to the palace.

 

A note about Istanbul: This is a city that has a lot of walking involved..lot of uphil walking and climbing. To check the museums and especially to feel that you got your money’s worth, you’ll no doubt check every tourist attraction thoroughly which means considerable walking. If there are any plans  of visiting Istanbul soon then work on your fitness…you will need to!!!!

Back to the Sarayi.. (=Palace in Turkish). We had to climb on a cobbled road that had some marble columns at the side on the grass. Cars could be driven inside though. On the way to the Palace, the Istanbul Architechtural Museum presents itself.

The Istanbul Archaeological Museum is something that presents itself in 3 chapters (=Trilogy ishtyle)

1.Archaeological Museum (=arkelogi müzesi)

2.Museum of Ancient Orient

3.Museum of Islamic Arts

 

Beyond the gate, the road continues still forward to a large ground with paths and gardens. There you can see the gates of Topkapi Sarayi

Now In Our Professional Opinion (=Oops oh crap copied the wrong stuff out of an Office Doc!!!)

Back to the point..what i was saying is this place merits a full day. They charge TL 35 to get in and it doesnt make any sense to rush it. There is So much to see!!!

 

Now i know keeping up with the typical Indian Itenerary (=I know we tend to Run, Daud and Race…oops someone’s movie list spilled over!! I mean we Indians tend to run across a country in 2 days and be proud of that!!) , with a travel agent, this would be done in say 2 hours but believe me there is so much more to the Palace. Not only are you seeing an important part of Turkish history and tradition but also has a Stunning Treasure Room.

 

Topkapi Palace was not only the residence of the Ottoman sultans, but also the administrative and educational center of the state. Initially constructed between 1460 and 1478 by Sultan Mehmed II, the conqueror of Constantinople, and expanded upon and altered many times throughout its long history, the palace served as the home of the Ottoman sultans and their court until the middle of the 19th century.The Holy Relics of the Prophet Muhammad, and the imperial archives continue to be preserved at Topkapi.

 

Following the abolishment of the Ottoman monarchy in 1922, Topkapi Palace was converted into a museum on 3 April 1924, on the order of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

 

 

Alrite for me to give you the coup on Topkapi Sarayi I’ll have to split it up into

1. What we could Photograph

2. What was Hidden from the Camera

 

As per the Literature that the Topkapi Sarayi Muzesi gave us, it was divided into

1. Main Palace (=TL 20)

2. Harem (=TL 15)

 

But we didnt end up going to the Harem 😦 we indeed were running on a tight schedule. After Topkapi we had to go to the Bosphorus for our cruise which meant we were having a pick up from the Hotel.

 

Like all other Turkish Monuments there was a full closet of information here. Which will be decoded and presented (=Sigh some disadvantages of working!! It does affect the language!!)

 

So the first thing we did was we climbed up the path and up ahead of the Archaeological Museum. And then when we went up and saw the whole Imperial Courtyard lined with army men!!!! In Turkey, every young man Has to join the army for atleast a year. The logic is that this will make the Men a Little (=Read LOTS) smarter and sensitive (=:P) and also develop patriotic feelings. As well as get everyone to compulsorily do community service.

 

And just then we saw…!!!!???

 

What did we see?? That remains to be seen in another Story, Stay Tuned.

An overview from Miniaturk

 

Istanbul Archaeological Museum

 

The Army

 

Whats Up

 

The Ceiling Lol

 

The Sleeping Chambers

 

Ottoman Splendour

 

A sign of good luck

 

Entrance to the Treasure Room

 

Tulips around

 

Sea of Marmara

 

 

Tulips outside the Topkapi

Istiklal Caddesi – Dinner, Churches, Some Fancy Arches and Consulates


Day 3: 12th April 2011

 

I suppose i ended the last note at the point when we just edged past the Galatasaray Lisesi. And after the yummy snack we picked up. The rest of the walk was filled with plenty of fun and lots of memorable photos. The walk ahead also had a lot of buildings with beautiful carvings and intelligent lighting.

In the midst of a chaotic shopping boulevard there was a black gate and inside lay a pink building which exuded calm and serenity. That was Church of St Anthony of Padova. We didn’t know it back then but we do now thatit is the biggest Roman Catholic Church  in Turkey. It seems this Church was built by Italian settlers in 1725 but later was demolished and then rebuilt at the same site.

The building was designed by the Istanbulite Levantino Italian architect Giulio Mongeri, who also designed many other important buildings in Istanbul and Ankara; such as the Maçka Palas (which houses Armani Café and Gucci) in Nişantaşı and the Neo-Byzantine style Karaköy Palas bank building in Karaköy (Galata), Istanbul; as well as the first headquarters of Türkiye İş Bankası in Ankara.

The inside of the Church was dark with a lot of purple lighting. It was said at some time that the reason so many rulers used to robe themselves in Purple was that the colour was considered Royal. (=Not bad, explains why i love purple, maybe i was a ruler in some pichhla janam…hmmm Raaz Picchle Janam Ka..Anyone??…Anyone???)

Alrite back to the Church. There were people lighting candles in little tranches on the side a la Mount Mary Church in Bandra. In all it was a very good feeling to go there.

Oh i forgot to mention about the incident while we were snapping oops clicking pictures of the sign saying “Istanbul Shopping Festival”. Like the mad photo clickkers we are, we went on snapping and then suddenly this guy walks up to me and says “Thank You”… forget the fact that he was a decent looking Turkish dude but i had literal question marks floating over my head a la Archie Comics Style.

Then i realised that he had seen me hold the camera and had posed. (=Who does that…….we only click pics when our cams are aimed….forget it)

As we walked deeper and deeper looking at a restaurant to grab a bite, the tummies kept growling louder and louder. There were bakeries, shops with beef kebaps and roast meat with lovely smells (=Again vegetarians please value your senses and stay away from the by lanes)

Then was the prank stop . Ah this roadside stall was the best memory from the whole trip. There was this great stall which had stuff like Magic Ink, Fake band aids, swords you could push thru your head etc along with the standard supply of bugs, beetles (=More keedas for people who already have a lot of keedas :P). Thats how i get a photo of me with a nail through my finger and the funny disguise.

The stall owner was cool enough to pose with us for a picture with the stuff he has on display. (=Turkish people are really nice!!! Makes me want to go back!!) The stall opposite to this one had something for me!! Earrings!!!! Awesome ones, rock bottom price after a lot of bargaining!!! (=Bargaining is always nice!!! And funnn to see the other person’s expression)

Finally the perfect dinner opportunity presented itself in the form of BBQ Chicken. This is the place that looked really decent and I thought would have good food. Turned out the food was delicious (=For once i won’t comment on the food!!) Plus the waiter was helpful.

Totally refreshed we touched Istiklal Caddesi again when we trudged our now tired feet to the part of the Boulevard where the Consulates started. And what a Grand Procession it was!!!!! Holland, Russia, Sweden in a row with their Palatial Consulates with superb lighting. I could just imagine working in a place like this. Which opened out to a Shopping Boulevard 😉

Finally the road curved and we reached the end of the route (=Or so we thought we didn’t explore further). There the tram services started to take us back to Taksim Square (=Where we’d seen the doggie with the Fashion Jacket!! I’m telling you,, we should drop what we’re doing and invest in grooming care for pets!!!)

The return journey to Taksim was fast, not to mention the slight delay because a drunkard got into our tram and was subsequently thrown out by the driver. The fare is not much and the ride pleasurable. Photos were clicking as we passed the big malls and the Clothes Stores and the Perfume Depts!! Also there were a few mosques that we passed. (=All done with brilliant lighting.)

And then finally a cab got us back to the Golden Horn, Sirkeci to 202/203 and to thus put a close toDAY 3

(=Phew they just keep getting longer don’t they!!)

 

sTAy Tuned for Day 4’s Masti

Simits

 

Istanbul SHOPPING fESTIVAL

 

Sant’Antonio de Padova

 

WooHooo….hello, where’d the credit card go??

 

 

 

 

Holland’s Coat of Arms

 

Holland Palace

 

Russia

 

Scergie..Oops Sweden

 

The Palaces called Embassies

 

Tramway

 

Dinner

 

Lighting

 

 

A shoe made of Shoes

 

The Perfume Store

Istanbul through the Miniaturk Eyes


Day 3: April 12, 2011

To all those who followed the Miniaturk series, it is nearing completion 😀 😀 (=I can hear those sighs of relief :P)

This is a view into why Istanbul merits more than a week in your travel agenda..I dont think i will detail about any of the monuments just list them.

There is also a section about Ottoman structures outside of Turkey which sheds light on the vastness of the Ottoman Empire at its peak. (=Turkey, Egypt, Greece, Syria, SudaN, Arabia…vast!!)

So i figured there’s not point talking about Istanbul monuments coz

a) There are TOO many

b) A few i’m covering in future notes. 😀 😀

So here goes..Whats HOT in Istanbul (=I’m not talking about the hot guys or the hot street food!!! :P)

1. Ataturk Olmpic Stadium (=Turkey’s bid for the Olympics!)

2. Istanbul Municipality H.O (=Pic 3/4)

3. Tomb of Master Architect Sinan (=The fellow who monopolised constructions in Turkey-450 structures!!)

4.Mağlova Arch

5.Suleymaniye Mosque (=One of the more magnificent of the 2800 mosques that decorate Istanbul)

6.Anatolian Fortress

7.Maiden Tower a.k.a Leander’s Tower (=Interesting name and legend..it seems the king drea)mt his daughter was bitten by a snake and had a tower built for her ala Shrek types. But his plans went kaput when a basket he sent had a snake hidden which killed the Princess 😥 ]

8. Dolmabache Clock Tower

9.Kuleli Military College

10.Eyup Sultan Mosque

11. Beylerbeyi Palace

12.Çırağan Palace

13.Dolmabahçe Palace

14.Bosphorus Bridge

15.Ataturk Havalimani

16.Hagia Sofia/ Aya Sofya

17.Blue Mosque/ Sultanahmet Camii

18.German Fountain

19. Haydarpasha Station/ Istanbul Gare

20. Küçüksu Summer Palace

21. Rumeli Fortress

Phew!!! And this i’ve exlcuded some of what we have already seen and a lot which were not so important!!! Istanbul is a really great place..and it definitely merits a visit 😀 😀

If you thought i’d only give you a list and run away, you were mistaken. I’ve got anecdotes as well.

Ok so we were wandering through the lanes of Miniaturk lookign stupefied totally at everything we had to see. We stumbled upon Ottoman relics out of Turkey as well in places like Egypt and Damascus. The Ottoman styles of architechture is stunning with great attention to Minarets and arches with deocrative entrances.

There was a bridge that connected one part of Miniaturk with the other which was the Bosphorus Bridge replication. Indeed so as the Bosphorus Bridge does the important part of connecting the European and the Asian side of Turkey.

On the right of this bridge was the Ataturk Airport. Now a fact about Ataturk Airport, this airport handles air traffic from all over the world but there is a second airport in Istanbul called Sabina Gokcen where the Turkish national airline, Pegasus connects European cities at low costs. 😀 😀

There is also a rail line where a railway is driven for kids a la the rail at the Santacruz Park (=:P There is a train there…lots of funn!!) WE posed ob!!

A thing about the Airport : The planes there move..there is a line where a plane moves in a circle to give it a realistic feel of the airport..there are sounds that play so its exactly like an airport 😀 😀

There were a lot of monuements to see but the interest was dimming 😉 We marvelled at the beauty and the effort taken to make Miniaturk. We of course spent time taking a lot of TP pics like with me pushing the Galata Tower and holding a minaret etc etc.

After a huge huge tour, we rested our feet and had a chocolate as we watched kids drive remote controlled boats nearby (=1 turlish lira s’il vous plait) I would have liked to do that!!!!

After this we made our way to the Victory Museum which was an ode to Ataturk. But that as we say.. is another story..

Stay Tuned

Olympic Stadium

 

The Scoreline

 

Municipal Office

 

Istanbul’s MCGM

 

:p

 

Ataturk Havalimani (That reads Airport)

 

Topkapi Sarayi

 

Ataturk House

 

A bridge in Egypt

 

Damascus Station

 

 

Expanse of the Ottoman Empire

Miniaturk brings alive what lies in ruins today- The Grecian Connection


Day 3:12th April:

 

Greece has always been a country which has had a tremendous influence on the world, be it as an integral part of ancient civilisations, or as an extended empire that ruled half the world, or be it through their economic attrocities (=:P)!!

The Grecian Empire stretched all across the southern part of Europe from Spain, Greece, Italy, Egypt, Turkey, Armenia and a host of countries above the Black Sea!!

This note is dedicated to the Greeks who’ve lived beyond their times and left an indelible mark on the Turkish Landscapes. Although these lie in ruins today, they’ve been recreated for everyone to see.

The expanse of the Greek civilisation and their level of sophistication brought a sense of peace and order into the nomadic Turkish way of life.

These are the Greek Monuments that MINIATURK has recreated for you, me and everyone to see 😀

 

Library of Celsus in Ephesus: (Photo 2-5)

The library, which was constructed in the years 115-117 during the Roman period, is located at Ephesus (Efes) near Selçuk in the Aegean province of Izmir. It is famous for its magnificent facade which appears to consist of two storeys. Examinations of the ruins have revealed that the structure had three storeys. Rolled scriptures were stored in niches in galleries on the upper stor. The reading hall of the library was destroyed by earthquakes in the third century. The facade was then used as the back wall.

 

Temple of Artemis: (Photo 1,6,7)

Built in the ancient city of Ephesus – present-day Efes in the Aegean region of Izmir – the temple dates back to 334-250 B.C. Also known as the Artemision, the temple was numbered among the seven wonders of the world in antiquity. After the first temple was burnt down in 560 B.C., a new temple of the same size but three meters higher than the original was built on the same site. It was the biggest temple of the Hellenic period. It was demolished by Goths in 262 A.D. and was never restored.

 

Halicarnassus Mausoleum: (Photo 9,11)

The mausoleum which dated back to the 4th century B.C. was one of the seven wonders of the world in antiquity. The wife of Persian governor Mausolus (from whom we derive the word ‘mausoleum’) had it built in Halicarnassus – now Bodrum – in memory of her husband. The construction reflected an effort to challenge the magnificence of the Egyptian pyramids. When the wife of the governor was also buried there, the sarcophagus section was locked with a special mechanism.

 

The Altar of Zeus in Pergamon: (Photo 10,12)

It was built between 197-159 B.C in the ancient city of Pergamon in what is now the Bergama district of Izmir province. The monument, which describes the victories of the king of Pergamon and is dedicated to Zeus and Athena, contains representations of all the Greek gods. With its Ionian style columns, the altar has the most magnificent examples of reliefs from Hellenistic sculpture and, in particular, from the Bergama school of sculpture. It was discovered by German excavators in 1871 and taken to Berlin.

 

Aspendos Theatre(Photo 13):

The theater built in the 2nd century A.D. near present-day Antalya is the most important structure of the ancient city of Aspendos, which was located 6 km to the east of Serik. It was constructed during the reign of Emperor Antonius Pius. The city was founded by the Argos civilisation as a river port in 5th century B.C. The theater still remains today with its stage intact. An interesting fact is that stone tablets were used for tickets here.

These replicas and just the way they were kept made me feel so grateful that i was able to see great pieces of work and get an insight into ancient civilisations (=which has been a fav to read in those dusty ol’ History books 😉

But there is more of Miniaturk to come, this was only half the story, You’ve yet to see Istanbul, Ottoman relics outside Turkey, The Victory and War Museum and get an insight into the great Mustafa Kemal Pasha Ataturk, the revolutionalry who changed a nation and its thinking!!!

Stay Tuned

,

 

Move Over Beckenscot…Miniatürk is Here..and How!!


Day 3: 12th April 

After the morning chow at Golden Horn (=Same old same old…Meze, yoghurt and eggs with the usual bread with preserves), we decided that on the agenda today was “Miniatürk” 

This place happens to be a little into the Istanbul suburbs (=On the European side of Turkey though) so we had to cab it. We had the reception ask for a cab and drove off along with our armour of woolens and jackets. The Cab driver was a quiet sullen one actually, (=We’re really used to cheery cab guys and pick up persons because we chat a lot with them) and it seemed as he resented driving us till there.

 

Driving through the Istanbul suburbs didn’t present a postcard version of the city. Of course the landscapes and the water along the road made it scenic but the houses were tumbledown and looked a little old.

Houses here are like the ones in the photo..but these houses were a little old, wore signs of occupation for years and had clothes hanging outside..also it was a little congested with a lot of houses packed together.

 

But I don’t mean congestion in the Indian way keeping Mumbai in mind…there were adequate open spaces and trees with beautiful tulips planted. It was a sight to watch but not as beautiful as the buildings are in the Historical Peninsula, the place where we were staying.

Right back to Miniatürk..

 

Miniatürk covers a total area of 60,000 square meters. Its model area is 15,000 sqm, making Miniaturk the world’s largest miniature park in respect to its model area. Miniaturk also boasts 40,000 sqm of open space, 3,500 sqm of covered area, 2,000 sqm of pools and waterways, and a parking lot with a capacity of 500 vehicles.     

 

The park contains 120 models done in 1/25th scale. 57 of the structures are from Istanbul, 51 are from Anatolia, and 12 are from the Ottoman territories that today lie outside of Turkey. Additional space was reserved for potential future models. The infrastructure was built taking into consideration the needs of potential additions. Therefore, Miniaturk will continue growing, modeling, in a sense, planned urbanization.

 

The park hosts icons of many cultures and civilizations. Models vary from the Hagia Sophia to Selimiye, from Rumeli Fortress to Galata Tower, from Safranbolu Houses to the Sumela Monastry, from Qubbat As-Sakhrah to the ruins of Mount Nemrut. In addition, some works that have not survived into the present, such as the Temple of Artemis, the Halicarnassus Mausoleum and Ajyad Castle, were recreated.

 

Special attention was paid to include every civilization that ruled in and around Anatolia and left their marks. Miniaturk traces a 3000-year history from Antiquity to Byzantium, from Seljuks to the Ottoman Empire and into the present day.

 

Aiming to create a fairy tale atmosphere, the Miniaturk project is divided into three main sections. The sections are Anatolia, Istanbul and the former Ottoman territories. The sections are separated from one another by small landscape designs that ensure continuity by guiding visitors throughout their visit.

(=Ok Enough Gyan!!)

 

Miniaturk is a vast expanse of land which has been very well planned. Also it shows a glimpse of Turkey (=Rightlu summed up as Turkey on My Plate), you do get a rush tour of Turkey as a country and its shift through the times.

This is an excellent place to bring children and make them proud of their heritage. Like I said, it’s a MASTERPIECE.

This keeps monuments and history alive even though the actual may not be in a good condition. And there are no two ways about it, this is a place that has GOT TO BE VISITED.

So we got in after taking an entry pass, and saw about 2-3 groups of school students being led by their teachers to this park. I’m sure if i was someone who went to a school in Istanbul, I’d insist on being taken here.

Now the park is divided into 3 areas,

  1. Anatolia
  2. Istanbul
  3. Turkish/Ottoman Monuments outside Türkiye

I’m going to elaborate about these 3 sections separately so that I do it justice.

But what we did find here is the committed efforts of the Management to make sure that these Representatives are kept in proper condition and are regularly cleaned. Also that repairs are made as and when necessary in phases so that one section of the park is always being maintained. (=A pretty good way of making sure the entire park is functional).

There were people scrubbing these Reps with water and a brush. There was even a provision for drainage of water that’s on top of the monument so that water does not accumulate. You just have to appreciate the amount of effort that has been put into making these Representative Models and in taking care of them.

 

Don’t worry about this being boring and just being models on display. Your ticket to Miniatürk has a barcode that will be read by an instrument in front of the model which will give out some information about the Representative Model in either Türkish or English. That is decided by the barcode and the ticket (=You’re supposed to specify that you prefer English at the Gate!! I think other languages are also available like German but i’m not certain)

 

There is also a restaurant on the premises that serves good food (=Unlimited bread here as well!!) We did take a lunch break half way into the Anatolian region and ordered some Pizza, Soup, Pasta and a Curry. One was a Meal Special. And they don’t make their pasta from scratch its a thawed one on your plate for all the anti-frozen brigade. But the food is good and reasonable.

Along with Miniatürk, there is also a Victory Muzesii & Crystal Muzesii (=Muzessi-Museum).

The Victory Museum is dedicated to the Turkish war of Independence. During the First World War, Turkey fought with Germany and also overthrew the Caliphate to be established as a Republic on October 29th, 1923 led by Mustafa Kemal Pasha Atatürk.

The Crystal Museum is a place where a few famous landmarks of Turkey are showcased in crystal using light and special display.

So as you can see, Miniatürk is a fascinating place to visit if you’re cut short of time.

But DO spend your time slowly savouring the Representatives and appreciating the history. Also the Representatives are very realistically done with beautiful carvings replicated. Take your time with your camera and have a snack to keep your power going.

Coming Up: Anatolian Region, Istanbul, Victory Museum, Crystal Museum

Stay Tuned

Oh Wait…I forgot about the suicidal lizard. There are train tracks running through the entire park (=I didn’t see the train though) So at one place in the section for Ottoman Monuments out of Turkey, there was a lizard near the tracks, Maybe he wanted to get on the train, maybe he was suicidal..Point is, his wish remained unfulfilled. .. 😀 😀

Istanbul Suburbs (Rep pic only)

 

 

 

Airport being cleaned

 

Camera Shy

 

Mustafa Kemal Pasha Ataturk

 

Miniaturk

Panorama 1

Trick photography

Expansive

Keeping it clean

Conservation

Guardian of the Mini-Monument

Conservation Workers

Cleaning in Progress

A suicidal lizard

No Luck!!

Miniaturk

Under the Bridge – Galata Dinner


Day 2: 11th April Post 7pm

 

We had decided to explore the Galata Tower which gave us a panoramic view of Istanbul. (=Like I said, Istanbul on a High 😉) After the crowded panoramic view, we had a chance to explore the city during its best..Night!!! The sunset in Istanbul is colourful and inspiring. It is a symbol of a setting sun bidding goodbye to all the symbols of Turkey and to usher in the shadows that light up corners of the city (=Getting rather poetic aren’t I?)

Musings:

Istanbul has a way of charming even the deepest cynic. It is a city that mixes Tradition with Modernism and while the life is pretty fast paced, it is gentle enough to offer you a pillow of support and welcoming arms. Watching the sun fade into the distant horizon, you could almost imperceptibly note that life had paused, that you could catch your breath and that some good rest was on your way. You will never be friendless in Istanbul. The people here, perhaps nurtured by the subtle interactions with life and its pace, will always lend you a patient ear..It is this charm that makes Istanbul and Turkey a destination that MUST be visited.

By the time we descended from the Tower (=And had a pee break) the winds had started to blow and it was getting cold. We did have a break to fortify ourselves with some chocolate and strawberry milk. We decided not to go on the same way we came and took an alternate route. Along the alternate route, we clicked pictures with some awesome artistic display albeit in form of graffiti..(Photo 4)

 

Then along we walked the same way we came but on the other side of the Galata Bridge. The Fishers had packed their stuff and had left. We took a turn that would bring us to Level -1 of the Galata Bridge where the restaurants were located. There were many restaurants each essentially serving the same, sea bass and other fish of the Black Sea. Of course they had other options which were chicken and lamb and more so beef. (=P.S If you’re a vegetarian please stay off this lane…the smell itself will choke you!!)

 

There was a restaurant that was playing peppy rock music.. (=Turkish Music is Happening…Turkish Artists have very good songs) but i don’t know we didn’t stop there, we walked ahead up to a place called ‘GalataKupa Diner’ and had the owner come out and give us a sales talk on his restaurant and we decided to go there.

Psst: You should hear the things they say to make you come to the restaurant and they goodies that are up for grabs…”Sir, come here,, look at my Menu..this is the Speciality…Where u from ..oh India!! Great…Come into my restaurant,,I give you Apple Cai, I give you this salad free..Oh you try that, I’ll give you that free with some Cut Fruits on the House…Yes..yes come in here” (:P)

Back to the dinner…We sat close to the window, had the heater toast us, listened to some Turkish tracks, drank Apple Tea and just about lazed…:P

Our Menu was

1.Chicken Curry (=Like a Kashmiri curry with yoghurt)

2.A green salad  (=On the House 😀 )

3.A Prawn, Macaroni and Cheese casserole

4. A Fish Platter (=Different types of fish fried or baked or roasted…unless you love the intricate flavours of bland fish..you stay away,,veggies n vegans DO NOT approach this place at all)

5.All the bread we could eat

6.Apple and Cherry Tea

7.Cut Fruits on the House

8.Some Turkish Locums (=Gel delights ;))

All in all we had a nice time. The waiter who took our order was joshing that i was the”Boss” because i was the one keeping tabs on the money.

Post dinner, we walked slowly across the bridge. This was the first time we were out late in any foreign city without a car. Istanbul is a place where people rightfully retire to their homes when it is dark and because of the subtle and impressive lighting to the monuments, the streets look eerie and dark. Of course you have cars and the tram passing by but essentially at 9 which was when we returned, it’s quite an empty place. (=Not what us Mumbaikars are used to….we see people around at any time..)

When we came to face the Bosphorus, we could see the Bosphorus Bridge (=One of the longest suspension bridges in the world) It was lit up along the suspensions and the light kept changing in colour. Also there were people setting up a ‘Night Market’ of sorts. There were coats, books, toys and some other things.

But i have got to say you won’t belive how sunsaan this place can get late nights. So we got on quickly towards our hotel. We stopped at a local convenience store and bought water, ayran and munchies for the next day, passed through the Ozler lane, met George Clooney and then finally back to 202 and 203.

That finally concludes Day 2 (=Phew!!!)

Coming Up: Ottoman Traditions, Miniaturk…Beckenscot is ancient now,Istiklal Caddesi

Stay Tuned

 

 

An Istanbul Sunset

 

One of the by-lanes

 

The Tower at Night

 

4 Floating Idiots

 

Dinner!!

Istanbul on a High-Galata Tower


 Day 2: 11th April

 

After a long walk exploring the Galata Bridge, we made our way to the Galata Tower. The present day Tower is one that has been restored after fires burned down the Tower. I must add a word or two about their restoration, its usually done so well that you can’t make out that it has been done recently. Also there are efforts taken to keep up the restoration which means that the Monument is always looked after.

 

History of the Galata Tower:

Galata Tower was made by Byzantium Emperor Anastasius in 507 out of wood and called Watch Tower. In 1348 Geneose took over the tower and built it out of pile stone and called it Christ Tower. When Fatih Sultan Mehmet conquered Istanbul in 1453, the Tower got under Ottoman Management.

In the 15th century  it was used as a Dungeon. In the 16th century it was used as a Fire Tower. In the 17th Century, Hezarfen Ahmet Çelebi put wooden wings to his arms and flew from the Galata Tower to Üsküdar (=Really it seems he practiced with eagle’s wings, flew and was banished by Sultan Murad VI because he was thought to be a public menace…”he is a scary man, he can do as he wishes”)

Damaged in the fire of Galata in 1832, Galata Tower was restored by Sultan Mahmut the Second and used as a Sign Tower. Also restored in 1967, Galata Tower gained its present day appearance and is still used for tourist information. The Tower got its name from the historical province of Istanbul, Galata.

This is a popular place for tourists as the Tower offers a panoramic view of Istanbul. It is a mode to see the Historical Peninsula. Also it offers you a beautiful view of the Bosphorus, Sea of Marmara and the Golden Horn. The Bosphorus Bridge looks elegant in the horizon.

 

 

There is also a restaurant at the top of the Tower, guaranteed to char your wallet for the remainder of the tour..The Tower Management says “If you come to restaurant, you don’t need to pay an entry fee..”  (=Ever met our IT Officials..pay through your nose and we waive off an insignificant entry fee :P)

The Tower was packed to capacity..I mean the viewing portion was packed. And i don’t doubt why..the sunset is so beautiful, it paints the city in such vivid colours. The blue turns to orange and envelops you along with with the mosques across the Sea of Marmara. Also it puts the city across as being a vulnerable and tired soul who’s just about finished the day’s work..From the Tower, its a beautiful sight.

And it is a very popular Tourist Attraction.

Taking a full round of the Tower gives you a total panoramic view of both the Historical Peninsula and the Suburbs. Also you can see the Bosphorus Bridge and the Asian side of Istanbul. Like the photos below show…this is a sight that everyone wants to see. Which is why it was a very crowded audience on the top.

Also if you are going there, do take your arsenal of warm clothes becuase it will be windy. (=Do Not follow this if you’re going in the Summer-its a given). It is indeed a restful sight to see the sunset.

There was a point where we were stuck because too many people were moving back and forth but that can be forgiven.

As we made our way to the bottom, we stopped for a quick loo break and for the first time I saw women  waiting in a queue to use the restroom…(=Mighty Impressed i Must say!!)

By the time we made our way down to the square, the lights had started twinkling and the Tower and Istanbul looked like a mysterious figure in silhoute. Yellow lights softly illuminated streets, corners and monuments.

And we took it all in as we made our way to dinner.

Comin Up: Dinner, Day 3 dawns finally 😀

Stay Tuned

 

Istanbul on a High

 

Bosphorus

 

A Mosque in the Horizon

 

Panorama 2

 

The last goodbye

 

Panorama 3

 

Mellow shades of orange

 

A lining to the clouds

 

 

Panorama 4

 

Istanbul by Nite

Matis and Kaleens- Carpets everywhere n Walk upto the Grand Bazaar


Day 2: 11th April 2011

After the Blue Mosque, we were taken to a carpet showroom. The exteriors of the Blue Mosque which open to the Hagia Sophia are decorated with beautiful gardens and benches for people to sit and watch. There were also lots of crows there, (=Like the country, the birds…India is characterised by Malnutrition and so the crows here are thin and have large eyes…watch a crow tom..Turkish crows are like stuffed toys-Photo 2)

So we all sat into our vehicle (=Its a huge bus actually) and drove down to a Carpet showroom called ‘Matis’. There we had a demonstration about different types of carpets and actually saw how the weaving was done. Some of the carpets were really beautiful.

Gyani Kisse shuru: (=Hindi for Factual Yak Yak Begins)

Indian/Chinese Carpets= Single Knot Carpets

Turkish Carpets = Double Knotted Carpets (=Or so they claim…how are we to determine)

Carpets have a base layer of strings and have other strings (=Usually coloured) woven in them.

1. Wool base with wool strings

2.Wool base with cotton strings

3. Cotton base with cotton strings

4.Cotton base with wool strings

5.Silk base with silk strings

The worth of a carpet is determined by the number of knots in a square inch. It can go upto even 225 knots which is as elaborate as it gets and will take a worker about 1.5 to 2 years. So your carpet is less about the material and more about the labour.

Imp Note: A lot of small carpet dealers are unscrupulous and will sell u carpets MADE IN CHINA. They are NOT AUTHENTIC Turkish ‘Kilims’ or Carpets. They will sweet talk you (=Turks are good at that not to mention they are good looking)

The colour used in Turkish carpets especially woollen and cotton ones are natural dyes and the silk is synthetic(=Iska Raaz aage ke notes me khulega :P)

So depending upon the vegetation of the area the colour of the carpets used to differ. Like in Southern Anatolia, tobacco is grown so the people used to make greenish yellow carpets using tobacco leaves. Also some other tribes used roots to make carpets vivid reds and greens. The intricacy depends upon the skill of the weaver and also on the material used.

Woollen carpets are not so intricate as the threads are thick and weaving knots is easy. Cotton can be intricately woven but not as much as silk. Some silk carpets are really exquisite you’d dread to even walk on them for fear of spoiling them.

Now the prices they quoted were astronomical so we simply ignored them as we sipped on some Apple Cai.

Later we saw the showroom for jewellery, diamonds, gold and other semi precious stones, corals and other stones like Amethysts, Turquoise, Onyx etc. Really expensive stuff not for a clumsy one like me…so I kept away..

Discovery: Indian weddings are oftenr famous for the traditional, heavy worked dress of the bride. But that is not the case in Turkey.

In Turkey, the bride can wear a Christian type white dress for the wedding ceremony itself. Turkey has made Islam and its followers so very liberal and open minded that there are no restrictions on them. I was thoroughly impressed.

After the outing at Matis, we got a photo with Aziz the guide (=Long time back 3 notes ago i’d said his name was Aziz gosh i write too much these days!!)

We went into a small basement like shopping place (=basement like coz, there were steps that went down n the shopping mart was there!! hence basement) By the way our first such shop in Istanbul, and picked up some munchies (=chocolate, biscuits, knick-knacks)

Then with directions from people, we walked to the ‘Grand Bazaar’, the biggest Bazaar for anything and everything you need (=Not at the best prices and certainly not all authentic)

We read a sign that a small store was selling stamps so we inquired but we found out they were stamps for regular post and were not attractive (=Philately is a dying art and hobby indeed)

Also the walk upto the Grand Bazaar is lined up with big shops like how a shopping boulevard of a small scale in London would look like. The cobbled roads make a beautiful pattern with benches and  plants. Also cigarette butts.

If i forgot to mention, 90% of Turkey smokes, man or woman.  So cigarette smoke everywhere and the butts littering the street. But mind you that is the only thing littering their streets!! No plastic or paper or other garbage.

On the way to Grand Bazaar we were again told about a restaurant in some corner and saw a lot of people smoking.

The path leading to the Grand Bazaar is a cobbled one and is done up beautifully (Photo 8).

Grand Bazaar is supposed to be a huge complex with more than 4000 shops. There is a main lane from the entrance and there are also many by-lanes with more shops. Its like a huge maze. It even has its own map. It is well known for its jewellery, hand-painted ceramics, carpets, embroideries, spices and antique shops. Many of the stalls in the bazaar are grouped by type of goods, with special areas for leather, gold jewellery and the like.

So the next few hours were spent in looking at the shops and a hunt for some good leather jackets (=Pretty!!) that we could even reasonably be expected to open in Mumbai. Also we looked around for magnets, t-shirts and other stuff that we could really buy. (=I mean the leather jackets, a little weird but t-shirts is cool..)

There is also a section selling Turkish Antiques for those who have the taste and those who can dip into their pockets. There were bronze statues, old clocks and watches, meerschaum pipes (=A type of stone which is found mostly in Turkey, is a fascinating subject)

Lunch was an affair we had to work on because there were restaurants in the lanes basically offering the same stuff at shocking prices so we kept the hunt.

We passed through a lot of shops selling Apple Tea (=As a powder not the drink) and Turkish Lamps. The Lamps are beautifully done and would have looked beautiful in any house but for the fact that we live in a virtual dust bowl..There wouldn’t be a day we’d not spent cleaning it.

We got ourselves some ‘Istanbul’ T-shirts and then found the perfect place for lunch (Photo 9). After a sumptuous meal (=Rice n Lamb+aubergine curry, a Döner, some rice with chicken kebaps and some pasta!) we made our way home. There were also shops that were selling gold and jewellery which is sold by weight and the current price of the euro and gold. Also there were good chunky necklaces that one can  see at Colaba Causeway 😛

It was a rainy Istanbul that greeted us when we came out of the Grand Bazaar and walked our way to the hotel. We met an Indian (=A businessman from Jaipur who frequents for business) so that was nice. And we were back to our room after finishing a massive half day tour!!!

Coming Up Next: Exploring Istanbul-Galata Bridge, Galata Tower, A Fishy Affair!!

Stay Tuned

Outside the Blue Mosque

Cutey crows

Just a random pic

The first place i saw the Indian Flag

Carpet weaving

Shops leading to the Grand Bazaar

Entrance to the Grand Bazaar

Cobbled Roads

Lunch!!

Blue..bLue..Blue a Mosque lies ahead- Inside Sultanahmet Camii


Day 2: 11th April 2011.

After the Hippodrome, we were ushered into (=Rather like sheep don’t you think, being directed from one place to another??)

Next Stop: Sultanahmet Camii / Blue Mosque

Fact: It is known as Blue Mosque because of the blue Iznik tiles that decorate its interior. Like many other mosques, it also comprises a tomb of the founder, a madrasah and a hospice.

While this Mosque is in active use for prayer, it is also a tourist attraction. While entering the mosque, everyone has to remove their shoes but there are plastic bags provided to the people to keep their shoes in. Also there are brochures about Islam so people get a bird’s eye view of the religion.

The people are quite strict about removing shoes, you pass through checking even after you’ve removed them to be doubly sure. This is really a testimony to how proud the Turks are of their traditions, What must Be Done Must Be Done. Period. (Photo 5)

We did see quite a few firangs (=Oops forgive the Indian way of saying it, a lot of whites would be very racist) complaining about this but the Turks didnt give a damn. You want to come, off go your shoes sir!!

The Mosque faces the Ayasofya on one side and also the Hippodrome. Meaning the Mosque is sandwiched between the Ayasofya and the Hippodrome.

Psst:  Ayasofya was built by the Grand Architect Sinan (=who built more than 450 monuments in Turkey talk about Monopoly!!) , Sultan Ahmad II while commissioning the Blue Mosque appointed Sinan’s student to build the mosque.

Try as he might, he could not build a mosque as big as the Ayasofya. So instead of building a Mosque with 4 minarets which was in case a mosque was Imperial and used for Ceremonies, he built in 6 Minarets…(=Duh Student wants to outgrow the teacher,,,any problem with that??)

At its lower levels and at every pier, the interior of the mosque is lined with more than 20,000 handmade ceramic tiles, made at Iznik (the ancient Nicaea) in more than fifty different tulip designs. The tiles at lower levels are traditional in design, while at gallery level their design becomes flamboyant with representations of flowers, fruit and cypresses.

(=Long live Wikipedia>>!!)

Info Snippets: IZNIK TILES

The name comes from a region in Turkey (also called Anatolia). Iznik tiles are hand painted on quartz (=A semi precious mineral)  Each tile takes about 2-3 months and is painted with natural dyes and glazed with egg white and fired in a kiln. It is a dying art in Turkey now and there are organisations that are taking efforts to ensure that the art continues.

The tiles on the back balcony wall are recycled tiles from the harem in the Topkapı Palace, when it was damaged by fire in 1574.

The most delicate part of the Mosque were the Stained glass windows (Photo 8). Also the lamps that they used were oil lamps and there was a system to divert the smoke into a separate room to be used as calligraphic ink (=Smart!!). So there is not a black speck on the ceiling save for that painted on the tiles.

Also a thing about the carpets:

The whole mosque is carpeted (Photo 4) and there are lines on it some darker than the other. The 2 dark red lines denote the place that a person takes when they bend down in prayer (=Remember how Muslims bend down in prayer on the floor, this is so that when the Mosque is full, your bum doesn’t get squashed in someone’s face!!)

So we were given about half an hour to explore the Mosque and reassemble outside. During this time we went and clicked pictures of the Mosque (=And each other lol)

We also clicked a picture with a fellow tourist, Jeremy who had opted for the full day tour.

Jeremy is from Philadelphia but now stays in Basel, Switzerland. Also he’s been to Mumbai (=and been in the traffic!!) He was even here during the world cup. So it was nice to interact with him.

After looking around in wonder at the mosque, we left.

Ooh!!: Even though this was a mosque, there was nobody who was wearing a veil over their heads, Although we had put our hoods on as a mark of respect. Turkey is a secular country where religion and politics are separate.

This means that even though 90% of Turkish population is Muslim, only about 20-30% are practicing Muslims.  This means that even religion is left to the choice of the person. (=We never got a choice to practice, we just had to!!)

So as we explored Turkey we came to know a lot about the country and also about Islam as a religion and how free and open it can be.

That wraps up the Blue Mosque. After the blue mosque we moved on to a carpet showroom and discovered a lot more things.

Coming Up: Matis and Kaleens…Outer sights, Historical Peninsula

Stay Tuned

Exteriors of the Mosque

The Inner Dome

Inner Lights

Red Carpets

Chappals here n there

A column with Iznik tiles

Calligraphy on the ceiling

Delicate stained glass windows

Beauty!!

The family