Helpful Tips and Fun Facts About Turkey
Our Expert's client has provided us with more fun tips and information she compiled from her recent trip to Turkey. She is still thanking us and Tauck Tours for putting together such an amazing trip for her. Tauck Tours does an amazing job putting itineraries together for people interested in learning about he culture of a country and those wanting to experience the art and history of the area they visit. Did you know Istanbul was first known as Byzantium? The name Constantinople came from the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great who rebuilt the city on seven hills, to match the famous Seven Hills of Rome. The name finally changed to Istanbul in 1930 when Mustang Kemal Ataturk proclaimed the Republic. To ensure the usage of the new name, Turkish authorities resent all mail and packages that were sent to a previous city name. Istanbul is the only city built on two continents - Asia and Europe. Istanbul has been capital of the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Latin Empire, and the Ottoman Empire, yet it isn't the capital city of modern Turkey, which is Ankara. Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey. The Basilica Cistern is the largest and most spectacular of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city. The cistern was built in the 6th century during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian. It was used to bring water to the Imperial Palace and later Topkapi Palace. The cistern looks like an eerie underground cathedral with Roman columns and Medusa. It was the setting for the 1963 James Bond film, from Russia with Love. James Bond once again appeared in Turkey more recently in Skyfall. Istanbul has the largest car ferries in the world on the Sea of Marmara. Suleyman the magnificent wanted a mosque appropriate to his title. He commissioned architect Mimar Sinan to build the Suleymaniye Mosque which was completed in 1557. The mosque had a madrasa, houses, infirmaries, caravansarais, a medical school, hamams, a Hadeth school, a hospital and shops. It is the largest mosque in Istanbul. The Suleymaniye Mosque is a beautiful example of Ottoman Islamic architecture. There is a wonderful light spiritual feeling inside. Be physically and mentally prepared to shop in the Grand Bazaar. Be thirsty as you will drink many cups of tea. Wear comfortable shoes, there are over 5,000 shops spanning sixty streets. The street names refer to the different trades and crafts. There is a leather jacket street. Don't forget to bargain with the vendors, or they will charge you too much for your purchases. Allow plenty of time to explore the area. The Bazaar has come a long way from the original construction in the fifteenth century and they now have a website. Bibliophiles will want to head towards Sahaflar Carsisi (Old Book Bazaar), which is found in a shady little courtyard west of the Grand Bazaar at the end of Kalpakcilarbasi Caddesi. The book bazaar dates from Byzantine times. Its stallholders sell books, both old and new. The Spice Market (also known as the Egyptian Bazaar) was built in the seventh century near the Galtaea Bridge on the Golden Horn. It is across from the ferry docks. Spices, dried fruits, olive oil, cheeses, sausages, jams, nuts and seeds, teas, sweets, caviar and other edibles fill most of the shops. It has become a lot touristier in the past ten years. The Pera Museum has a lovely collection of European, Ottoman and Turkish paintings. They have interesting temporary exhibitions as well. Rustem Pasha Mosque was commissioned by Suleyman's son in law and built by Sinan. It was completed in 1561 and is located in an old and busy market area. The mosque is known for its beautiful Iznik tiles from the sixteenth century covering entire walls. It is a very special mosque and really lovely inside. The Bosphorous is the biggest canal in the world. Hagia Sophia is the most important building in Istanbul. It was built in the fourth century and is the masterpiece of Byzantine architecture . The Asian side of Istanbul is a great place to live if you are a Turkish Yuppie. They have great restaurants, stores, gyms, several Starbucks and a Pinkberry yogurt. Topkapi Palace was the primary residence of the Sultans for four hundred years. Construction began in 1459 by Sultan Mehmed ll and continued over centuries. Architect Sinan redid the kitchen quarters in the sixteenth century and it is a good example of Ottoman architecture. It houses the famous Topkapi Dagger (made famous by the movie Topkapi) and important holy relics from the Muslim world including Mohammed's cloak and dagger. The Harem of the Topkapi Palace has more than 400 rooms and was home to the Sultan's mother, wives, concubines, children, servants and eunuchs. Many of the rooms and features were designed by architect Sinan. When Istanbul was part of the Ottoman Empire, there were over 1,400 public toilets around the city. At the same time, there were not any at all in Europe. Four bronze horses which decorate San Marco Cathedral in Venice today were taken from Istanbul (Constantinople back then) by the Crusaders in the 13th century. Istanbul Modern is the first and only modern art museum in Istanbul. It opened in 2004 and is home to modern Turkish artists and Istanbul fashion week. Does this information spark your interest to visit Turkey? It sure did for me. Thank you again to our client for sharing her knowledge with us.
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