††† Turkey, 9-16 December 2005





We flew to Istanbul and spent a few days revisiting sites in that very special city. We then rented a car and drove to Troy. After that, we saw several other sites along the west coast of Turkey, visited (revisited for Yvonne) Pergamon, and saw Ephesus again. We returned the car in Izmir and flew to Northern Cyprus which we hadnít seen before. Our GPS track is shown in yellow.






The most special building in Istanbul is the Hagia Sophia completed in 537 CE by Christian emperor Justinian. It was later converted into a mosque and 4 minarets were added. In 1932 it was converted into a museum. It was used as the prototype for mosques.








Inside the Hagia Sophia are beautiful mosaics like this one dating from the 9th century.





Next to the Hagia Sophia is the magnificent Blue Mosque modeled after the Hagia Sophia. The Blue Mosque was completed in 1609 by sultan Ahmed I. The Blue Mosque has 6 minarets (2 are not visible in this picture) which prompted the addition of a 7th minaret in Mecca in order not to be outdone!







These underground cisterns were the source of water throughout the Byzantine period (392-1453) and into the Ottoman period.







We took a boat ride up the Bosphorus and admired the skyline of Istanbul. The Hagia Sophia with its four minarets is on the left, the Blue Mosque with its 6 minarets on the right.






We took this evening picture of another mosque (Yeni Camii) near the Galata bridge on the Golden Horn. There are many good restaurants on the Galata bridge but we preferred the one below.




You still find in Turkey a traditional setup for eateries that is perfect for travelers who are not familiar with local food and language: all dishes are displayed in the window. After you enter, the cook explains everything and combines your selections. (This used to be common in Greece but is now extremely rare there.) We ate at this place several times and the food was delicious and quite reasonable.








At the entrance of Troy is this tourist version of the Trojan horse. Nevertheless, itís nicely done and instructive. In case you wonder, the fellow in the picture is not Odysseus.






Threatening mammatus clouds over Troy mysteriously hinted at the opening hexameter of the Iliad. The first word of the Iliaddefines its theme:


MeninÖ (wrath... [of Achilles]).






The archeological site of Troy consists of many ancient cities dating from 3000 BCE to the 1st century CE layered one above the other. The wall on the left is believed to belong to the Homeric Troy (2nd millennium BCE). The lady in the picture is not Helen.






Heading south from Troy, we visited several interesting archeological sites. On the right is Assos with an Athena temple dating from 530 BCE providing a spectacular view for miles along the coast and out of the island of Lesbos.




Weíre now in Pergamon. The

most famous building of Pergamon isnít there but in Germany. Itís the

spectacular altar of Zeus excavated by Germans (late 19th century) now wonderfully displayed in Berlinís Pergamon museum. Pergamon had one of the largest libraries in antiquity (200 000 volumes). This collection was later presented to Cleopatra by Mark Anthony and carried off to Alexandria.










On the right is a Corinthian temple to the deified emperor Trajan completed in 125 CE.





The Asklepieion was dedicated to Asklepios, the god of healing. It ranked with Epidauros and Kos as one of the most celebrated places of healing in the ancient world and was founded in the 4th century BCE. It was here where the famous Roman physician Galen (129-199 CE) worked.





Ephesus was our last stop in Turkey.


This is a view of the famous library of Celsus (110 CE). It was raining off and on and very few people were there.




Yvonne on center stage of the amphitheater in Ephesus. It was here that Paul preached against the cult of Artemis (the famous Artemiseion was later destroyed by a Christian patriarch who saw this as the final triumph of Christianity over paganism). The cult of Artemis goes back to a Hittite fertility goddess.

There is also a tradition that St. John the Apostle lived out his last years in Ephesus with Mary.