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16 November 2009

Turkiye... land of mosques!

Last night I returned from spending a week in Turkey and wanted to share what I saw. The country was amazing. I found that as I was planning it everyone wondered why Turkey, and now that I have gone I ask, "Why not?!" There is so much there to see and experience. From the sites to the sounds, the food and people--the culture is just incredible. I would recommend a visit to anyone who is wondering where they should go next... I would be willing to go back. But for those of you that won't make it, here are some of the things I saw.

There are mosques everywhere in Turkey, especially the Old City. This was probably my favorite from the outside (the Blue Mosque). It is still used today for the prayers 5x a day and so we could only go inside at certain times. There was a definite feeling of peace and calm and sheer reverence when we were inside.

We spent a day in Ephesus, the Apostle Paul walked here, and it was by far my favorite place to see. The Library at Celsus was so impressive, and just the detail and intricacy that Romans paid to everything amazed me. It was sobering to walk the roads of an ancient civilization and sit in their seats and admire the things they were able to do without the technology we have today.

This (above and below) is the Library of Celsus... the favorite spot of Ephesus.

Hagia Sophia was originally a mosque until it burned down. They rebuilt it as a Christian church and then it was turned into a mosque again. Out of respect for the Christian faith, the Muslims did not remove any frescoes when they made it a mosque again, they only covered them with plaster so as to not destroy them. Today it is a museum and you can see where some of the plaster has crumbled away revealing the frescoes beneath, allowing you to see Muslim and Christian together.

When we went to the city of Troy we were the only people walking through the site (until we were about to leave and 5 tour buses showed up). It was an eerie feeling to be there alone, with the breeze blowing through the streets carrying the sounds of times long past.

Topkapi Palace is really only a museum now, but they have a lot of what the people wore and used back in the times of the Ottoman and Byzantine empires displayed here. I learned that the ball hanging from the ceiling (shown below) symbolizes their dominance of the world.

I spent a few moments playing in the Mediterranean Sea. I would have spent more but it was pretty windy and therefore a bit on the chilly side. But the water was so pretty and blue.

The Temple of Artemis was quite destroyed, but this column was huge and somehow still standing.

We spent a lot of time walking through markets as we went from one place to another. The Grand Bazaar was gigantic and everyone had their own clever ways of trying to get your attention from asking how they can take my money to being jealous of the girls I was with. When we entered the Egyptian Spice Market I have never been so in love with the smell of a place as I was there. The smells and colors were overwhelming.

Dolmabahce Palace was the most impressive palace I have ever entered in my life. Sadly, they did not allow pictures inside, so you'll have to look this one up. They had a 4.5 ton chandelier hanging from the ceiling in one room... and it takes 3 months to clean.

Parts of the city still have the old wall surrounding them that was used as protection way back when. It was cool to see these areas and how they were still used today. Some people used them as walls for more modern buildings, others as a beautiful backdrop to their garden.
The Bosphorus bridge connects the European and Asian sides of Istanbul (the only city on 2 continents).

All in all the trip was worth every moment and every penny. I didn't see even a small portion of everything there is to see in this wonderful country of Turkey. But what I did see was enough to show me the beauty that exists in places you wouldn't expect.

6 people had something to say:

Meghan and Tyler said...

You dirt bag! That is one place i really want to see...ok dirt bag was a little harsh, but how jealous am I? I loved the pictures!!! You must of had an incredible time. Thanks for sharing them with us.

Becki said...

this looks so amazing! my aunt and uncle are serving in Ismir on a mission right now. those pictures are amazing!

Kati said...

Mark those pictures are absolutely beautiful! you are amazing!

Rob, Adrienne and Sam said...

I'm so jealous. It looks beautiful.

Anonymous said...

AMAZING photos, Mark! Not to mention how freaking jealous I am!! So when are you coming back out here to lowly Utah? Glad you had a good time!

janel said...

So I didn't comment earlier but these pictures are really really good - some are super stunning and I love some of the angles/lighting/people that you captured - I love them and you are naturally talented!