(not to be) Missed Turkey & Istanbul Sites and Facts

summer 2009 / more feed with intelligence to refine your tours

Sister Monuments : Hagia Sophia and Washington Monument

Hagia Sophia and Washington Monument are sister monuments due to the fact that they have both got the art work of the same artist:   The huge roundels with works of calligraphy and the Ottoman plaque of Sultan Abdulmecid laid in Washington Monument are works of the same master , Kazasker Mustafa İzzet Efendi.(*1)

In 1853 upon the invitation of the U.S. Sultan Abdülmecid sent a marble plaque (*2)  to be laid in the Washington monument honoring the people of the U.S. and the relationship of the two nations . The plaque was 2 by 1 endaze [130 cm by 65cm – 4 ft 4

in by 2ft 2in] with the
the imperial cipher – the tugra, and a chronogram
verse ( a Chronogram
verse is a verse in which the the numerical
values of all the letters equal the
date of the commemorated event).

A poem by poet Ziver Pasa containing a chronogram was written by the order of the Sultan :
“In support of eternal friendship,
Abdülmecid Han allowed his honorable
name to be written in the tall stone ( monument) in Washington. ”

The text In Ottoman Turkish :
Devam-ı hulleti te’yid içün Abdülmecid
Han’ın yazıldi nam-ı paki seng-i balaya

The artist, calligrapher Kazasker Mustafa İzzet Efendi :

Güzel yazılmış bir hattı okumak lalenin kokusunu almaya benzer.

Reading a well  written calligraphy is like smelling a tulip
Kazasker Mustafa İzzet Efendi

( Kazasker may translate is minister of Justice literally kadı – asker , judge soldier )
He was a great Caligrapher, a graduate of Galatasaray Imperial School ( still existing, today as a high school, as the famous historical Galatasaray High School on Istiklal Street of the new town ) .
His incredible voice collected the attention of the previous Sultan and he was initially educated in the impreial palace as a ney ( ottoman reed flute ) performer – floutist . He was also the master teaching Ottoman princes the caligraphy art.

The roundels at Ayasofya (Hagia Sophia) read the names of Allah, Muhammed and the first 4 caliphs (Ebubekir, Ömer, Osman, Ali) , each with a 7.6 meter diameter.

(*2) by M. Ugur Derman

“From some traces of gold leaf still remaining
in the upper right and left cornices, we can
see that before the plaque was sent to America,
the calligraphy and decoration cut in bas relief
were gilded with gold leaf. In spite of the broken
letter elif in the lam-elif of bala (high, lofty)
and the fact that the dot over the letter nun (n)
of Vas¸inkton has fallen off, and that some of the
finials are later restorations, the plaque has
fared quite well over its 147-year existence.”

April 23, 2010 Posted by | 1 | , , , | Leave a comment

Top Sites in Istanbul

Top Istanbul Sites

Top sites and museums u should see in Istanbul :

1. Topkapi palace
( , treasury ticket , hectic ticket booth locations info : )

Harem : (most tours don’t include it. It’s considered as a seperate museum in the palace.  (Tickets are 10$ approx). It has got around 400 rooms. Only about 15 – 20 of the chambers are open to visitors.

There is no guided tour,  and very few explanatory signs;  it seems like the museum is pushing a private company’s electronic guide service purchase . With the exception of 3 – 4 chambers   (  the large ceremonial hall, chief eunuch room with  his and an assistant’s maniquenne –  model  – , one of sultan’s mother’s coffee corner )  you do not really see    furniture.  Sutan Ahmet private chamber has got almost no furniture,  but the little decorative fountain, tile work, the fireplace can be enough by itself   to make your visit to the Harem worthwhile ; if 19th century style talks to you, the Harem of Dolmabahce has got all of the genuine furniture , paintings, chandiliers, that may talk to a number of visitors more, but architecture of Topkapi palace Harem part is simply impressive.

First you would buy a ticket to get in the palace. The Harem tickets are sold inside the palace, in front of the entrance of the Harem. The tours begin every half an hour. Towards the closing time the palace is more peaceful (cruiseship groups are gone ) , there is an excellent outdoor cafe – restaurant facing the Bosphorus straits – one of the best view in town, if you are not on a budget tour , its a la carte restaurant has got one of the top lamb schank you may ever it in all of Turkey ( also at Ali Baba and Hacı Abdullah restaurants , plus I cook it as good ) .

( the roof of Hamdi Restaurant – lunch or dinner , short walking to the Spice Bazaar (we call it Misir Carsisi – no dots above the i letters and a comma at the bottom of C, attached to it – the turkish letter for ‘ch’.

2. SAINT SOPHIA CHURCH – The Byzantine Cathedral , the Church of the Divine Wisdom, with its bright red brickwork and its four minarets. Emperor Justinian’s dream was chiselled out of stone in record time   5 years and 10 months! On 27 December in 537 AD,  the church opened up as  the  largest Christian church of its time.   Sultan  Mehmet II.   after conquering Constantinople, converted  the church into a Mosque. And this destiny is easily visible on a tour (9:30 am – 5:00 pm Tuesday to Sunday; admission is 20 lira = 10 euro = 13,5$).

3. THE BASILICA CISTERN -A Bond   movie locaiton :  – From Russia with Love , showing Mr. Bond escaping from one building to another by sailing on a little boat in the cistern.

4. A Bosphorus Cruise.

6. ST. SAVIOUR IN CHORA CHURCH – You will appreciate Byzantine art at its peak with the mosaics and fresqoes decorating all of the walls of the church, giving completer life cycles of Mary and Christ (Mary’s childhood details are breathtaking, unknown to westerners – bases on Apocriphal work of St. James )

7. BLUE MOSQUE & SULEYMANIYE MOSQUE- The top two Imperial mosques of ISTANBUL . The Blue Mosque is exceptional in more ways than one. Being the only mosque with six minarets and thus seen to rival the Great Mosque in Mecca, the latter had an extra one added after all, Mecca is Mecca! The cost of building the Blue Mosque was exceptional too: it turned into a black hole for the public purse.

In retrospect, the horrendous costs did pay off, though. So: dress appropriately, you are entering a mosque, after all ( if you’re not wearing something suitable,  scarf or a shawl is provided free of charge at the entrance. It is adviced to carry a schawl on this holy gounds of the mosque to use as a skirt if you are wearing a short not to offend the warshippers)   no entry at prayer times, also half an hour prior to to close the gate  tourists enter through the  gateon the west side shoes off,  socks, or matching socks 🙂 not a must. If you are wearing a bermuda pull it down to your knees and that is fine for a man , for ladies, they may still provide a schawl to wrap your self up.

Once inside, the visitor is astonished by  cascades of light  colour and designs:  tiles with dominant color blue, huge candelabras, and 260 windows, most of them stained glass   make for an unrivalled impression. And, with the mosque not only being a place of worship, but also a social institution, it was also provided with a soup kitchen, a hammam for the bath and shops.

8. ASIATIC non touristy ISTANBUL – Ignored by visitors , Asiatic Istanbul is also impressive . Would you like to be the only tourists in a local vegetable and fish marketplace and then have lunch at restaurant, where the grand grand father of the owner was THE COOK OF THE OTTOMAN PALACE!  Followed by a drive through the top residential areas and scenic Bosphorus driveway.

Sakirin Mosque with its reputaiton of being the first one designed by a woman ( Mrs. Fadillioglu ) is among places of interest, highliy worthwhile.

9. Shopping at the Grand or the Egyptian Bazaar.

10 . TURKISH AND ISLAMIC ARTS MUSEUM ( across Blue Mosque, behind Egyptian Obelisk  )

11. THE HOUSE OF MR. SABANCI – This is one of the two top wealthy Turkish families, their palatial house is just converted into a private museum; what a priviledge to see it . Mr . Sabanci is an art collector, and his Calligrapy collection went around the world. The family at one point was in Fortune 500 listing .

12. THE ARCHAELOGICAL MUSEUM – includes unique artefacts like Alexander the great Sarcophagus. One of the most important archaelogical museums of the world.

13. STREET CAR RIDE ON ISTIKLAL STREET – Fanciest walking street of Istanbul with late 19th century Italian architecture. Cafes, bars, window shopping, people watching. Famous Pera Palas Hotel can be included.

14. PRINCE ISLANDS & CART RIDE ON THE GRAND ISLAND – For Istanbul visitors staying 4 days or more.

Istanbul – the Byzantine Constantinople Istanbul was the capital city of three empires : Ottoman , Byzantine , and Roman Empires , and she was ruled over 120 kings, emperors and sultans. The impressive Bosphorus Straits of Istanbul with so many palaces and mansions built along is admired highly by the visitors on a fancy 2 hour cruise. This is also the site of the �Clashing Rocks� in the Mythology, through which �Jason & The Argounats� were trying to pass. Many visitors come back to Istanbul in winter for a weeks� stay to enjoy more in depth. Active churches, and Synagogues as well as the mosques attract visitors at religiously significant days, like feasts, or Christmas. Special Istanbul visits : Topkapi & Dolmabahce Palace, The Blue Mosque, The Grand Ottoman Military Band of the Ottomans, Saint Sophia Church & Basilica Cistern of the Byzantines , An unforgettable Bosphorus Straits Cruise , Shopping at the Grand or the Egyptian Bazaar.

April 19, 2010 Posted by | 1 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Istanbul 2010 Summer Museum entrance fees

The information ( rates etc ) below is updated in April 2010 ( 1$ US = 1,485 )

Entrance fee to Topkapi and Hagia Sophia

( Ayasofya ) : 20 tl  Harem Section of Topkapi 15tl ?

Basilica Cistern 15 tl


check back soon for more.

April 19, 2010 Posted by | 1 | , , , | Leave a comment