Turkey
by Steve Ford, 2013

All of the photos in this article were taken with a Lumix "point-and-shoot" camera.

Istanbul - Mosques & Churches

P1020058.jpg We began our first full day in Istanbul with a little cruise on the Bosphorus (small tour boat, not a giant floating shopping mall). I am not including any photos from that cruise because I found that experience rather uninspiring... both as a photographer and even as a sightseer. One of my common frustrations when I travel is finding my efforts to see the "authentic" world in which I live thwarted by droves of tourists and tour operators trying to make a living on those droves. About half way through this cruise we opted to leave the boat to walk back to our hotel through the neighborhoods of Istanbul. That little walking adventure (oh, my aching feet) started at the Chora church and ended at our hotel which was only a few blocks from the Hagia Sofia and other major sites of Istanbul. In spite of my aching feet, I found this much more to my liking as we saw Istanbul as its citizens experience it in their everyday lives.

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A fresco in the Chora Church

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The Hagia Sofia Built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian between 532 and 537. Originally a Christian church, later converted to a mosque, and now a museum. Well worth a visit in spite of the crowds.

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Inside the Hagia Sofia It is difficult to convey the scale and breathtaking beauty of this place in photographs. The scaffolding on the left is for restoration and/or maintenance.

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Art in the Hagia Sofia A photo of a photo.

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Art in the Hagia Sofia This is a photo directly of a mosaic.

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The Sultan Ahmed Mosque Commonly referred to as the Blue Mosque. Directly across a large plaza from the Hagia Sofia. This is also a spectacularly beautiful building, and worth a visit. I suggest you also try to visit some of the less famous mosques in Istanbul as you will be able to see them without all the containment necessary to control the throngs of tourists.

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Inside the Blue Mosque Like the Hagia Sofia, it is difficult to convey the scale and breathtaking beauty of this place in photographs.

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Inside the Blue Mosque

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The Hagia Sofia, seen through a gate to the Blue Mosque.

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The Obelisk of Theodosius, with Egyptian hieroglyphic carvings like this, can be found in the Hippodrome, a large plaza (in ancient times, a race track) on the NW side of the the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sofia.

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In the courtyard of the Suleymaniye Mosque

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Inside the Suleymaniye Mosque

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A door of the Suleymaniye Mosque

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Minarets of the Suleymaniye Mosque

The Subterranean Cistern in Istanbul

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The Subterranean Cistern, near the Hagia Sofia.

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Carved column in the Subterranean Cistern

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A sculpture of the Medusa, scavenged from some other site and used to support one of the cistern columns. The ISO on this image was so high because there was so little light that after lightening the image it was so grainy that I decided to apply the PS fresco filter. I rather like the effect, if I do say so myself.

The Mosaic Museum in Istanbul

There isn't a whole lot I can say about these mosaics... except WOW!!!
The Mosaic Museum, near the Blue Mosque is a must see!

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Cappadocia

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Cappadocia is a region in central Turkey that may be best known for its geology and the many dwellings that have literally been carved out of that geology.

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The underground city. Whole cities were carved deep into the ground (this one went down 55m) as a place of refuge from hostile invaders. Imagine living in this place... in the land of earthquakes... without electricity.

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A church carved out of the tufa hillside.

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A scene through the "window" of one of these tufa structures.

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A tufa church fresco. This image was digitally stitched together from three individual photos. The fresco was defaced by Islamic zealots who feel it is offensive to depict the human form. More recently it was shamelessly defaced with graffiti.
Click here to see a larger version of this image...

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Hot Air Balloons over the town of Goreme.

Konya

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Konya is the resting place of Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi (AKA Rumi or Mevlana), a highly revered Sufi poet. I only have one photo from Konya. While there is much to see in Konya, a city I recommend visiting, photography was forbidden for many of the most beautiful and interesting sights. This photo was taken at the Ceramic Museum.

Selcuk

Selcuk, is a town near the western coast of Turkey on the Aegean sea. Many ancient Greek and Roman sites are very nearby. Notably, Ephesus, the Basilica of Saint John, the final home of the Virgin Mary, Priene, Miletus, and the temple of Apollo. Saint John, to whom Jesus entrusted the care of his mother before his crucifixion, is believed to have brought Mary to this area. There is a site in the hills above Ephesus that is said to be the final home of the Virgin Mary. A beautiful site, but no photos are included here.

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Sunset from the rooftop terrace of our hotel... looking out toward Ephesus and the house of the Virgin Mary in hills.

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The Basilica of Saint John (located only two blocks from our hotel in Selcuk). Built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian, the same guy who commissioned the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul. Saint John is said to have been buried at this site, after which a church was erected at the site of his grave. Finding the church in a bad state of repair, Justinian ordered the construction of this huge basilica in 535. This is a photo of a model showing what the site once looked like.

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The Basilica of Saint John

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The courtyard of a small mosque near the Basilica of Saint John.

Ephesus

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Ephesus This is a truly remarkable place... It must have been like one of the wonders of the world in its time. This is a photo of a photo of a model. The Agora (meeting place / market place), a large open square shown in the model is mostly rubble today. Other things shown in the model are in a better state of restoration. If you have a chance to visit, be sure to give yourself at least one whole day... and be prepared to deal with hordes of tourists.

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This photo shows many of the things illustrated in the preceding model. In the model the library can be seen in the upper right corner of the image. In this photo the well preserved library is just left of center near the top of the image.

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Clay pipes, used in a sophisticated fresh water and sewage system.

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Engraved Stone... there are thousands.

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Homes of the elite. This area of Ephesus is enclosed with ongoing restoration. A system of catwalks leads you through the area, housing many beautiful frescos and mosaics.

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Fresco

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Fresco

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Mosaic

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Mosaic

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The library of Celsus

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25,000 seat amphitheater

Priene - Miletus - Didyma

Four of us took an all-day guided tour of Priene, Miletus, and the Temple of Apollo in the town of Didyma. We had the good fortune to get a retired professor of History and Archeology from the University of Istanbul as our guide. John (sorry, I don't remember his last name) was a wealth of information. These three sites are all within a one hour drive of Selcuk, and this was one of the most interesting and informative days of our trip. These sites have many of the things to be found at Ephesus, but with far fewer tourists.

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The amphitheater at Priene

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Priene

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Priene

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Priene

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Our guide, John, shows us the amphitheater at Miletus.

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The Temple of Apollo The columns in this place are gigantic!!! Notice my friend standing amongst the columns... I think there were 70+ columns, each nine feet in diameter.

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This is what an earthquake does... Notice the supports added to keep this collapsed column from moving any more in a future earthquake.

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Medusa at the Temple of Apollo

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The Temple of Apollo

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The Temple of Apollo

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The Temple of Apollo

Pamukkale

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Pamukkale's Vast Travertine Terraces I debated whether I should include Pamukkale in this photo essay... It is after all a "World Heritage Site"... A three hour bus ride from Selcuk... A very... uh, shall we say, "interesting" mixture of amazing travertine terraces, Roman ruins, and Disneyland-like food & bathing concessions. A huge site, with a relatively well preserved/restored amphitheater, a nice museum, and huge travertine terraces that allow people to wade in the natural hot water. Then there is this bizarre area that looks like a cross between a hot spring spa and a water park. This included kids running around in the usual preadolescent swimming pool behavior, men in speedos that looked like they were carrying triplets... and equivalent sized women in teensy tiny bikinis that made me want to cover my eyes.

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People wading in the hot spring water

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In the Pamukkale Museum

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In the Pamukkale Museum

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The Pamukkale Amphitheater

Things for Sale

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"Sorry we're not closed." A typical tourist shop, seen all along the back side of the Hagia Sofia.

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A typical hardware store.

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In the Grand Bazaar

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In the Grand Bazaar

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In the Grand Bazaar

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In the Grand Bazaar

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The Saturday market in Selcuk

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The Saturday market in Selcuk

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The Saturday market in Selcuk

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The Saturday market in Selcuk

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On the street in Istanbul

Mal's Pals

There are feral cats and stray dogs everywhere. There is an effort to neuter many of them but the vast majority are left to fend for themselves... A rough life. We heard about a group near Goreme that built a shelter just to provide protection to dogs during the very cold winters.

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We bid farewell...

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The Blue Mosque on our last night.

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