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Published: June 20th 2014
From the Ishtar Gate of Babylon
After a good night's sleep, we were energized to see the Topkapi Palace, Istanbul Archaeology Museum and take a cruise up the Bosphorus Straight to the Black Sea. The weather cooperated...70's with a gentle breeze.
Our first stop was the Archaeology Museum. We learned a lot about the area. Istanbul was the seat of the Byzantine Empire, and was once called Byzantium. We saw Egyptian, Byzantine, Greek, Roman, Anatolian as well as Babylonian relics. The museum had a courtyard cafe filled with ancient statues, columns, grave relics everywhere...it was like a garden of museum pieces. My favorites were the Alexander Sarcophagus and the lions from the Ishtar Gates of Babylon.
Afterwards, we headed up the hill to the Topkapi Palace where the Sultans lived. It was bigger than Vatican City. The harem was home to the Sultan, his family, mother, consorts and concubines. One interesting tidbit about the Harem...most people think a Harem is a group of women and the Sultan could have his pick any time he wants...he is the king after all. Actually, his mother ran the show, and the Harem was where they all lived. She picked who the Sultan fraternized with and pretty much ran
Detail from Alexander Sarcophagus
My favorite of the day. Looks like Art Deco almost.
the harem. The palace also included a sacred spot dedicated to Islam and included the cloak and dagger of Mohammed as well as other relics and treasures important to the faith. Beautiful tiles, stonework, woodwork, jewels, furniture, pools, fountains, gardens and staggering views were everywhere.
We had purchased tickets to take a sightseeing cruise along the Bosphorus Strait, so we left before seeing everything at the palace, but it was enough to whet our appetites to return some day.
The Bosphorus Strait is the body of water that runs from the Mediterranean Sea area to the Black Sea. Istanbul is a unique city that spans 2 continents. One side of the city is in Europe, the other Asia. The strait runs several miles and connects to the Black Sea, so it has always been a strategic area to control. There are waterfront palaces all along the strait. It is beautiful. A bridge now connects the two continents.
After we returned, we stopped at area between the Blue Mosque and Hajia Sophia, enjoyed a dinner of Turkish Pizza (no sauce and on pita bread), and enjoyed some actual ice with our drinks! What a treat! We may, or
may not have tried the hookahs...*a green apple flavored tobacco in a water pipe*....just to experience the culture.
I will try to post some pictures tonight. The internet at the hotel has been slow, and I may be able to put captions by them. If not, I will add them later.
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