Europe and Asia
Istanbul is an old, old city that has been called Constantinople and Byzantium before that. It is a transcontinental city which means that part of it lies on the continent of Europe and part of it lies in Asia. It is the only such city in the world that does that. Today it boasts a population of over 14 million people! As a comparison, NYC has about 7 million people living there. The city has a diverse group of people from all walks of life.
Having been the capital of four different empires, the city is an eclectic mix of many cultures. It has been home to the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Latin Empire and the Ottoman Empire.
Greeks (660 BC - 330 BC): First settled by the Greeks around 660 BC, it was known as Byzantium under the rule of King Byzas. It may have been inhabited much earlier than this, but King Byzas was the first to start to develop the area due to the strategic location along the Bosporus Strait. He named the city Byzantium after himself.
Roman Empire (330 BC - 395 BC): Constantine the Great conquered the city and set out to rebuild it entirely to make it stand out much like Rome. In 330 BC he declared the city as the capital of the entire Roman Empire and renamed it Constantinople (ahh, can you see a name trend here? The conqueror renames it after himself...talk about egos...hehe) It remained under Roman control until 395 BC.
Byzantine Empire (395 BC - 1204 AD): After the death of Emperor Theodosius I, there was a great amount of upheaval within the Roman empire and the empire was permanently divided by his sons into the Roman and Eastern Roman (or Byzantine) Empires. Constantinople became the center of the Byzantine Empire which was predominantly Greek. This period is when the Hagia Sophia was built (532 AD) and was a Greek Orthodox church.
Latin Catholic Empire (1204 - 1261 AD): Even though the city prospered and grew, its location was in a lucrative spot which caused the city to be the target of other conquering cultures. For hundreds of years, it was attacked by troops from all over the Middle East. For awhile it was controlled by the members of the Fourth Crusade. The city started to crumble from the constant turmoil between the Latin Catholics and the Greek Orthodox.
Ottoman Turk Empire (1261 - 1922 AD): About this time, the Ottoman Turks began to cut off the city by conquering all the neighboring towns. Officially conquered in May 1453 by the Ottoman Turks, the city was renamed Istanbul and came under the rule of Sultan Mehmed II. He wanted to rejuvenate the city so he brought back the refugee Catholics and Greek Orthodox as well as Jewish, Muslim and Christian families to add diversity to the city. He built the Grand Bazaar which was and still is one of the largest covered marketplaces in the world.
Republic of Turkey (1923 - present): During WWI, the allies took over the Ottoman Empire and Istanbul became part of the Republic of Turkey.
A bit of Trivia
One of the mosaics that was in the Hagia Sophia is the earliest known example of 3D drawing. If you look at the platform that Mary, the Blessed Mother, is sitting on, you can see that it was drawn as a 3D box form. This mosaic started a craze of sorts for drawing three-dimensionally as opposed to that period's flat drawing.
While we were walking the streets, we stopped by a Turkish rug store and were able to see just how genuine silk rugs are woven. Wow, what an art! The pattern was complex, the colors were gorgeous, and the lady working on the rug was so very talented. As you can see in the picture below to the left, she is working off a pattern that is secured above her. It takes a great deal of focus to stay on track so we were careful not to talk or bother her as she worked. Notice the detail and colors in the photo on the right. It was breathtaking!
We chopped, zested, stirred, sauteed, baked and passed the bottle of wine around as we all pitched in and made a 6-course lunch of Turkish dishes...many were variations of the dishes Selin's Jewish grandmother passed down to her. So we learned something new and made new friends. Once the dishes were ready it was time to eat!
The Sultans Palace - Topkapi Palace
This palace is a gorgeous estate where the ruling sultans resided for almost 400 years of their 624 year reign. They held state dinners and official functions there. It is now a museum which houses many ancient artifacts. The coolest, yet most ordinary, was the staff of Moses. Yep, the very one that parted the Red Sea, that turned into a snake and back and did all sorts of other miracles according to the Bible. It's a simple, well-worn, rather short cane. I guess I was imagining a 6' tall big stick! But to see it was really, really cool...no picture though since we weren't allowed to take any in this part of the museum.
Random Turkish Delights...
There were so many things to do and see in the city. The streets are full of activity...taxis and motorcycles whizzing by, cats and dogs on the streets everywhere, folks walking on the street between passing trolleys and cars, dinners with friends, roasted chestnuts, food...excitement! Below are just some of the sights of the city...truly a destination to see. It also helps to have a daughter who is just so darn good at setting up super cool trips! Thanks Lane!
Our trip to Istanbul was awesome! Thanks again to Lane for booking and arranging such a full, fun trip...:) We saw so much in the 3.5 days we were there...next up is what we did in Abu Dhabi! Did I mention the private pool on the lagoon...or the dune buggy ride in the desert... yea...stay tuned.....
Welcome to Tailored Tidbits!
If I'm not in the kitchen cooking up new items for my shop, I'm sewing fabric baskets, taking care of our honeybees and Ms. Kitty, pitching in on the latest project at my son's, or planning a trip somewhere with my daughter. Here, I'll share a "day in the life" at Tailored Touches!
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