A Travellerspoint blog

Istanbul

Nothing here to frighten granny

sunny 26 °C

Here in peaceful, modern, Istanbul the streets are clean, the sidewalks are free of potholes and parked cars, the traffic is well-behaved, the people are warm and welcoming, the food is fabulous and life is laid back and rosy. It is difficult to believe that we are a just a stonesthrow from the volatile hotspots of Syria, Iraq and Iran.
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This is the view of the Bosphorus from the Topkapi Palace. Europe is on the left ...Asia on the right - and the only thing stapling the two continents together are a couple of flimsy bridges. Turkey is in an unenviable geopolitical situation - to the west is Orthodox Christian Greece with whom the Turks have had many punch-ups, while just to the right, in the Middle-east, are a handful of countries hell bent on destroying themselves and each other in the name of Islam. But being piggy-in-the-middle is nothing new for Turkey - this land has the been the punchbag for religious extremists since religion was invented. Istanbul has seen the lot - The Pagans, the Greeks, the Romans, the Byzantiums, the Arabs, the Crusaders and the Ottomans - each bringing their own religion, culture and architecture. Here is the distinct Muslim style of the Topkapi Palace - the opulent residence built by Mehmet the Conquerer in 1460...
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More opulent than the architecture is the enormous treasure of gold and jewels amassed by the Ottoman Sultans until their Empire finally collapsed in 1908. The Sultans may have gone, but their treasure remains. The enormous diamonds, rubies and pearls are simply breathtaking and there is enough gold to un-sink the Titanic. The most remarkable glittering artifact is the famous Topkapi Dagger - star of the 1964 Peter Ustinov movie. Photos aren't allowed, but here's a very similar one we found around the corner in a Turkish Lira store...
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Equally remarkable are the crowds. Get there early - the guidebook told us. But all this lot must have read the same book....
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After centuries of warfare Istanbul is still under attack - but now it's the hordes of holidaymakers streaming off the huge cruise liners that steam right up to the city's walls. Here is the SS Queen Victoria...Just one of the seven cruise liners in port today!
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No matter - there are enough spectacular sights for everyone to enjoy. Tomorrow - the Blue Mosque and the Aya Sofya.

Posted by Hawkson 03:11 Archived in Turkey

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Comments

Since this is not on my bucket list (unless I win the lottery) I am grateful for this post and pictures. Particularly the history you write about.

We've had a lot of rain the last few days here. Cisterns here are grateful for that too.

by Janet

Hey there,

Nice to know that someone beats you guys in the wake up early category! Any sign of Peter Sellars? Vague memory of a movie with him in the Topaki palace. Nice digs. No backpackers now I presume.

by Tom

Hi you two...great to be back on your travel blog...can't think of a better way to spend a convalescence than travelling with you two. Looks like I will be home based for some months, so won't be hitting Europe in the near future. However, that said, I'm home, I'm feeling great, physically, emotionally and spiritualy.
Love to you both....

by Sharron

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