From Athens to Singapore Part 2 of 12: Turkey

Author: , March 17th, 2010
by Mike Shaughnessy, Traveler
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Purple Roofs is happy to welcome back an old friend. Last time, Mike regaled us with tales of his trip through South America. This time, he brings us details from his two month trip from Greece to Singapore. Enjoy!

Gay Turkey

Gay Turkey

ISTANBUL: Ankara, located in the center of the country, is the capital city of Turkey but Istanbul is its largest city with some 15 to 16 million people. (Mexico City I believe is still the largest city with 20 plus million, Cairo is maybe the third largest with around 17 million plus people so that leaves either Mumbai or Istanbul as the world’s second largest city with around 18 million… as far as I know.

Gay Turkey

Istanbul is also unique in that it straddles the Bosphorus Strait with a portion of the city on the European continent and the other portion on the Asian continent, the only such city on two different continents. Connecting the two halves of the city is a suspension bridge.

The Black Sea is on the North and the Mamara Sea on the South with the Bosphorus Strait running between. Istanbul is the only place where you can go from one continent to another in a few moments by crossing a bridge.

Gay TurkeyTurkey is a Muslim country and Istanbul/Constantinople/Byzantine as a city has a 6,000 or more year history with many old mosques alongside newer tall buildings. Only about 20% of the populace today practice their Muslim religion answering the call to prayer five times a day, another 20% try to go about five times a year and the rest are secular.

Gay TurkeyIn the historical center is the Topkapi Palace, the former residence of Ottoman sultans which ruled the Ottoman Empire from this city. Also in the center is the St. Sophia originally a Greek Orthodox Christian church, later it was converted to a Mosque with the addition or turrets, and today it is simply a huge museum.

The other must-see historical sites are the centuries old Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Market. The Grand Bazaar is the world’s oldest shopping mall dating from 1461 and containing over 4,000 indoor shops, you can get lost in here.

This city was known as Byzantine when the Greeks were in control; it took the name of Constantinople after the Romans conquered it and finally after the Turks conquered the same city became known as Istanbul.

Gay TurkeyKUSADASI: This port city in Turkey is a favorite holiday spot for many Europeans looking for a bargain sunny vacation spot with turquoise waters. Only ten miles from Kusadasi lies the major attraction; the archaeological site of ancient Ephesus.

Gay TurkeyI was told only one seventh of the old city site has been uncovered and excavations continue today (hint Gretchen). The city of Ephesus dates back to the 10th century BC with white marble roads grooved by chariot wheels, temples, hill houses and the imposing remains of the two-story Library of Celsus (see my photos).

Gay TurkeyThis library housed numerous papyrus rolls and was built with two exterior walls with airspace in between the two exterior walls in order to keep the outside moisture away from the papyrus documents stored within.

There is also the well preserved remains of a large Greek Theater carved into the hillside which seats 25,000 people.

On another hill near here is a stone house where it is believed to be the last home where the Virgin Mary lived toward the end of her life. I am not very familiar with this corner of our world so if I get any of this wrong please feel free to correct me.

Gay TurkeyGay Turkey

Gay TurkeyGay Turkey

Gay Turkey

Gay Turkey