Trips & Pictures Turkey, June 2006

Turkey, 10-21 June 2006

(Click on pictures for full-size image)


Views of the Golden Horn, Sultanahmet, and the Bosphorus from Galata Tower

Aya Sophia

The Blue Mosque

The "sunken palace cistern" near Aya Sophia

The Grand Bazaar (pictures don't convey the pandemonium, and all of the touts trying to lure you into their shops to sell you things!)

The conference held a banquet in the Esma Sultan Mansion, a ruined shell of a building on the shore of the Bosphorus in which they built a glass-walled structure suitable for large events. The evening view was spectacular, and some of the performance as well (including a performance by a group of "whirling dervishes")

The gate of the Dolmabahce Palace

On one of the days we took a cruise up the Bosphorus to the entrance to the Black Sea. The first picture shows Galata Tower, from which we took some of the earlier pictures.

One of the forts used to block the Bosphorus and blockade Constantinople back in the 1400s

Ruins of an ancient Genovese castle used to guard the entrance of the Black Sea

View of the Black Sea from the castle - it was fun in general watching the big ships going through the Bosphorus

The interior of Aya Sophia - the scaffolding they built for restoring the dome was *very* impressive

There were cats all over the place, including in Aya Sophia. This character wanted our lunch, and was not shy about it!

Some of the tile work was amazing, especially in the Topkapi (Sultan's) Palace...

... which was huge, so it was nice to relax on a ledge and watch some more ships/ferries go by on the Bosphorus.

Dawn from the rooftop of our hotel in Sultanahmet - many of the hotels served the included breakfast on a roof terrace, and the views were a treat.

Side-trip to Cappadocia

Cappadocia is known for its volcanic formations and the caves hollowed-out in them to be used for housing and churches. While still somewhat touristy and warmer, this region was much more peaceful and relaxing than Istanbul, and great for wandering/hiking.

These people put a lot of work into hollowing out living space - the large outcropping had seven levels of rooms and connecting tunnels...

I couldn't help thinking "it's much easier to build kitchens out of snow than rock..." I could have taken some snowcamping at this point, it was hot! (although the caves were pleasantly MUCH cooler).

There were many monasteries in Cappadocia, and dozens (hundreds?) of churches carved out of the rock from the 3rd century on. Due to the lack of light in some of the caves, some frescoes were remarkably preserved.

The locals also built vast underground cities in the region - during invasions, they could live underground for 6 months, until winter rolled around and the invaders departed. This city (Derinkuyu) had ~8 levels (and tunnels with very low ceilings to assist in repelling attackers).

We took a day-tour to check out some of the local sites (including the underground city), but then a large group from the tour (7 out of 11) decided to skip some of the more touristy stops to hike a longer section in the Ihlara Valley - this got us off of the tourist path, and turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip.

The Selime Monastery - quite an impressive set of rooms and tunnels. If you look closely you can see some windows carved high up in the rocks. Several of the pictures also show one of the three volcanoes in the region in the background.

A caravansary (stopping-point) used in the past along the silk road to China

"Fairy Towers" of Cappadocia

Our "cave room" - many of the local B&Bs renovate original cave rooms to provide modern-day comfort.

Carpet-shopping - we really liked some of the carpets that we saw. The prices were much better in Cappadocia than in Istanbul, so we tried our hand at bargaining, and ended up buying two (including the first one below). We're very curious to see what actually shows up! :P (they were too heavy to lug along, so we had them shipped)

The landscape in Cappadocia felt somewhat Californian (along with a couple of volcanoes)

Back to Istanbul for one last day

The spice market

There were always lots of locals fishing from the bridges and along the Bosphorus and Sea of Marmara

I had been curious about a ship-wreck that happened in the vicinity a few years back, but it didn't seem to be there any more - these may have been remnants, though. (a picture of the original wreck is here) Trips & Pictures Turkey, June 2006