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Istanbul a dream in the Bosphorus

They say that Leandro used to cross the Strait of Dadarnelos every nigth to meet his beloved Hero. And it is not for less. Turkey is one of the most beautiful countries and the "world largest outdoor museum " Even without being a member of the EU, Istanbul was designated European Capital of Culture 2010.


Numerous visitors each year come to this land in search of the mythical Thracian, trying to trace the footsteps of Troy, looking the terrace of the school of Plato in Assos or contemplating the grandeur of Constantinople, today turned into one of the most beautiful cities of Europe: Istanbul. Pergamon Edime, Miletus, or Olympus, are places that hide stories, legends and myths. Izmir is the birthplace of Homer, Plato and Apelicon lived in Teos.

Murallas de Estambul Unesco

In Odeon you can hear Heraclitus. Saint Paul began here to spread Christianity. Mount Coressos served as home to the Virgin Mary as St. John wrote his Gospel. Two of the seven wonders of the world are in Turkey, the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus and the Temple of Artemis, both on the coast of the Aegean Sea.

Phaselis was the meeting place of one of the great love stories: Marco Antonio and Cleopatra. The cave where St. Peter was born keeps the memory of the father of the Christian Church. Urfa Cave remember that there was drinking water one of the first prophets, Abraham.

Many episodes of the Old Testament were developed in Anatolia, hence this region is considered sacred ground Noah's Ark ran aground on Mount Ararat, Abraham had lived in Urfa and Harran. After the founding of Christianity, St. Paul was born in Tarsus and toured Anatolia, the apostles first adopted the name "Christian" in the cave of St. Peter of Antioch (modern Antakya), St. John the Evangelist wrote his gospel in Ephesus and the Virgin Mary spent her last days of life and died in the same city. The seven churches of Revelation were founded in these lands and the early ecumenical councils were organized in Nicaea (Iznik), Ephesus and Chalcedon (Bithynia).

Ortakoy // Aves  en el Bósforo

One of the key dates in the history of Turkey is the year 330 when Constantine the Great moved his capital to Constantinople, the "city of Constantine" (Istanbul). Shortly after, Christianity was adopted as the official religion of the Byzantine state turning the city into the center of a great civilization.

The Byzantine Empire developed not only artistic works of great quality but managed to withstand Arab attacks (VII c.) and the first barbarians (XI c.) Anatolia was the scenario of eleven Christian Crusades. In 1071 the Roman Emperor Diogenes was defeated by the Turks Seljuks at the Battle of Mantzikett. It is the beginning of the decline of the Byzantine Empire. Constantinople would be conquered in 1453.

The clans and nomadic tribes had developed their civilization in Central Asia for over a thousand years, fled to Anatolia due to drought and famine ravaging their lands. On arrival occupied vast fertile lands and assimilated with the indigenous people. It is the beginning of a new era with the birth of the two most powerful kingdoms of the peninsula: the Anatolian Seljuks and Ottoman Turks promoting art in all its forms.

The old Ottoman Empire continued until the end of the First World War when the Republic of Turkey was born in 1923 after a painful War. The founder of the new modern Republic of Turkey was Mustafa Kemal Atatür.

So is Turkey. Mixture of civilizations histories, empires. The underground cities, dances, dances at mealtimes, the joyful and harmonious character of the Turkish people are some of the many reasons to discover this beautiful country.

Its rich history is comparable to the explosion of beauty that nature provides. The country has been chosen by more than four million birds to spend the spring and fall during migration season. The sky is filled with color, trills and flights on an impressive show.

Visit Turkey is entering the paths of history and art, from ancient times to current cultural events. An enchanted landscape full of history and full of future and modernity surprises visitors. Each day a new story, a new place, an unforgettable moment and an adventure to make. Ours begins in Istanbul, a dream on the Bosphorus.

Murallas de Estambul  (detalle)We landed at the Atatür airport at dusk and during that magical moment to contemplate the shores of the Bosphorus filled with a delicate reddish light that illuminates the city that was the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, the Byzantine and the Ottoman Empire, showing the splendor of a glorious past and a future of modernity.
Istanbul is the only city in the world that sits on two continents: Europe and Asia. In it converge the civilizations of East and West.

This enormous wealth of cultural diversity is what fascinates us most. The trip is motivated by the participation of our Grupo Termas in the 35th International Congress of the Society of Medical Hydrology & Climatology. There will be three days of intense scientific meetings and tourist trips around Istanbul. We long to soak up its history and culture, customs and hospitable people, the nightlife of the city and discover the allure of a "hammam". And, museums, churches, palaces, great mosques, bazaars and breathtaking views of the natural beauty of the environment are endless.

Mezquita Azul // Basilica Santa Sofia // Constantino y Zoe adorando a Jesús // Puente sobre el BósforoA good place to start our first break through Istanbul is Sultan Ahmet Mosque, known as the Blue Mosque for the dominant color of interior decoration. Its proportions are as imposing as harmonious highlighting the silhouette and six slender minarets. This jewel of Ottoman architecture is a work of Sedefkar Mehmet Aga, diciple of architect Sinan. Was built between 1603 and 1617 for Sultan Ahmet. Opposite the mosque lies a huge courtyard surrounded by a peristyle of 26 columns.
Next to the mosque, the Hünkar Kasri or imperial pavilion houses the museum of carpets and kilims.

The Hippodrome is a vast esplanade with trees adjacent to the mosque, on the former site of a Roman Hippodrome. Septimius Severus was the one who carried out the first works around the year 198 BC. And later Constantine the Great expanded it and gave a great look. According to some historians, the Hippodrome had the capacity for 30,000 spectators, according to others, to 60,000 after all was the scene of major events of Byzantine history.

Just beyond lies the Gate of Bab-i-Humayun, or Gate of Augustus, which at that time marked the entrance to the Topkapi Palace. Visiting this wonderful historic buildings and its rich collections lasts at least three hours. Topkapi was built over an ancient olive grove, at the end of the first hill where the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn flowing into the sea of Marmara. Its construction commenced in 1462 by Mehmet Fatih, and since then it became the residence of the Sultans, until Addül Mecit was installed in 1853 in the baroque palace of Dolmabahçe Entrance to the Harem is located in the second courtyard, by the gate called Bad-üs Selam (Gate of Salutation). Its construction began in 1588, but was almost entirely rebuilt in 1665 after a fire. We had lunch at the restaurant inside the palace with wonderful views over the Bosphorus.

The current Basilica of Hagia Sophia was built between the years 532 and 537, during the reign of Justinian, is the third basilica built on this site. The chief architect was the great physicist and mathematician Anthemius of Tralles, aided by the famous geometer Isidore of Miletus and was converted into a mosque by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1443, until in 1934 when was designated as a museum by Kemal Atatürk. The church has a rectangular shape, almost square, 75 meters long by 70 wide. Its dome, 31, 4 meters in diameter is the largest in the world. The first basilica was inaugurated in the year 360 by the Emperor Constantine and was dedicated to Haghia Sophia, the Divine Wisdom.

We admire some elements of its time as a mosque, the mihrab, the wooden discs with Arabic characters painted in gold. With the establishment of the Secular Turkish Republic was discovered that the wonderful Byzantine mosaics were hidden behind layers of plaster. One of the most beautiful is the Deesis, located in the Imperial door lunette,representing a bust of Chist blessing.

The Golden Horn
Near Hagia Sophia is the Basilica Cistern or Yerebatan Sarayi, the most important Byzantine cistern of the city. We wander the streets toward the Golden Horn estuary that divides Istanbul into two parts ( east and west ) Being considered one of the best natural harbors in the world, here were gathered the Byzantine and Ottoman fleets and commercial shipping interests.Today its shores are lined of lovely parks and promenades. During sunset, the water glows with golden colors, fascinating every day thousands of tourists.

At the avenue Fener and Balat, near the Golden Horn, there are streets lined with old houses, synagogues and wooden churches that survive from Byzantine time. Herein lies the Orthodox Patriarch. The hillsides are dotted with cementeries with dark cypress. In this part of the city there is always a lot of movement because the pilgrims who come to the tomb of Eyüp ( named after Abu-Ayyub-al-Ansari, patner and champion of the Prophet Muhammad ) in the hope of seeing their wishes fulfilled. At the top of the hill it is the Pierre Loti Cafe. It is an ancient Turkish coffee in the former home of French poet Pierre Loti. It is the ideal place where you can enjoy the tranquility of a fantastic panoramic view of this beautiful city.

The Turks show their cuisine as one of the great virtues of the country and quite right too. TheTurkish table is prepared with the freshest ingredients, seeking more harmonious combinations. We take advantage of restaurants are usually open twenty four hours a day and we lunch at the Pandeli, an excellent restaurant on the top floor of the Spice Bazar.The country is washed by four seas so fish and seafood are very fresh and chosen.
Also near the Spice Bazaar is the Rusten passes Camii, a mosque designed by the great architect Sinan. Is famous for the magnificent Iznik tiles that cover much of the walls.

With time and renewed strengh we opted to take a ferry to go to the Asian sector. The Bosphorus crossing las about twenty minutes. The intention was to watch the sunset behind the minarets. With it came the ecstasy. The city gradually changed color recording in our retinas the reddish tones that decorated the sky of Istanbul.

With this emotional experience we approached Üsküdar one of the oldest neighborhoods in the Asian part of Istanbul that retains some oriental character. In its labyrinthine streets we find picturesque wooden houses and two mosques Sinan's work and Karaca Ahmet Cemetery. We found nightclubs typically Turkish (Gazino) where listening folk songs and admire the famous traditional oriental dance while dining.

Hammam // Torre Gálata // El Dr. Philippe y Marita con la editora Mayte SuárezA taxi took us in the early hours of the morning to the Besiktas district to visit the Palace of Dolmabahçe. The facade of 248 meters long of bright white marble and bordering about 600 meters of the European shore of the Bosphorus. Impress the spacious reception hall with 56 columns and a huge crystal chandelier, which weighs four and a half tons, with 750 bulbs. In another era, birds were took from around the world to Bird Pavilion for the delight of the privileged residents of the palace. Since 1853 The Palace of Dolmabahce became the permanent residence of the Sultans replacing Topkapi.
Kemal Atatür, the founder of the Turkish Republic, died in Dolmabahçe on 10-11-1938.

After this early culture bath we ordered a taxi to Taksim Square where Istiklal Caddesi avenue begins, the currently pedestrian avenue of Pera district had in great splendour in the past. In this avenue and its vicinity are the residences of former embassies, hotels of noble ancestry and Galatasaray Lyceum, which has formed the political and intelectural elite of Turkish society. Nearby are the Turkish Baths. Or "hammam" of repute with the Çemberlitas, "hammam" we were recommended to experience the seductive power of authentic Turkish baths.

Relaxed by the bath and massage is an excellent idea to approach the Flower Passage or Pasajii Cicek in Beyoglu. There are good pubs and is a meeting point to enjoy seafood. After dinner we deciced to have coffee in the Orient Bar of the romantic Hotel Pera Palace. It was opened at the end of the last century to accommodate the passage of the Orient Express. Its rooms have hosted numerous characters, like Mata Hari or Greta Garbo. The room # 101, which occupied Atatür, has been transformed into a museum. In room # 411, Agatha Christie wrote her famous novel "Murder on the Orient Express".

The Galata Tower
We wander about the streets a bit in search of the Galata Tower, rising to his viewpoint in lift since it was impossible to be optimistic to climb over 143 steps. The tower was built around 1348 by the Genoese as great bastion of a walled enclosure. From the tower dominates the Galata district, the Golden Horn, and on the other side the old city, with the Topkapi Palace on the hill, and the minarets of mosques Blue and Suleiman, and Saint Sofia. The panorama is really spectacular.

Shopping is a cultural learning. The wealth of craftsmanship of the Turkish people, the atmosphere of the bazaars and the warm welcome of its people make this activity a pleasure. Willing to another new experience, we crossed the Golden Horn by the new Galata Bridge, the former with its fish restaurants and cafes to smoke hookah, caught fire in 1992. Back in Eminönü went up the hill to find the Grand Bazaar, one of the world's most famous markets. It is a veritable covered city within other city. There are jewellers stores, shoemakers, leather goods, carpets, tea salons, banks and mosques.

Among the most prized items are the carpets, kilims, jewelry, ceramic works and brass, skins, tavla (backgammon game board) and stands for the Quran (Rahle). After several purchases and to celebrate all we dicided to have a dinner of fish and all Turkish seafood specialties, in the lively neighborhood of Kumkapi near the Sea of Marmara.

With four minarets that stand at the corners of the yard, the Mosque of Suleiman the Magnificent - Süleymaniye Camii - is one of the masterpieces of Sinan. It was built between 1550 and 1557. The tombs of Suleiman and his wife Roxelana are in the beautiful cemetery located behind the mosque.
We had to rush the visits of this third and final break and headed to Eminönü pier where we took the ferry for a boat trip, the best way to explore the Bosporus, a circular route along the coast of the strait that separates Europe from Asia.

Casas de madera sobre el Bósforo // Barcas de pescadores

We distinguish the European shore - Rumeli – from that of Asian-Anadolu or Anatolia. The trip that takes about six hours, among other interesting things: the mosque and Dolmabahce Palace, the Maritime Museum, the Ciragan Palace-transformed into the eponymous hotel-casino Yildiz Park.
The neighborhood Ortaköy with its mosque, church and synagogue, the Bosphorus Bridge - 64 meters above the water, 1074 meters separate the two pillars, linking Europe and Asia, the European and Asian walls, the yali -typical wooden palaces Yenilöy , and many fishing villages up to Anadolu Kavagi, last port of the Asian coast An unforgettable tour where we admire the ancient city of Istanbul for something is said to be a dream in the Bosphorus.

Recommended web | Office of Tourism of Turkey | Programming of Istanbul 2010 |


Consultora Europea de Turismo y Gestión Termal


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