Davis & Geeta Davis Turkey Adventure – Part 1
It was with a sense of anticipation and expectation that we planned a trip to Turkey, Austria and Hungary in May 2009 and surely we were not disappointed. Our visit to Turkey began with Istanbul, the capital city of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires still ranking as one of the most ancient living cities of the world. The city was founded during the reign of the Roman ruler Emperor Constantine who desired to build a city that would rival Rome on the site of the old Greek colony of Byzantium at the entrance of the Bosphorus. This was known in the early 4th century AD as Constantinople.
After we checked in, we were taken to the impressive Grand Topkapi Palace of the Ottoman Sultans. It is situated on a high ground from where one could have a panoramic view of the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara, separating Europe and Asia.The sections that displayed jewels, precious stones, crystals and porcelain used by former sultans housed in the highly ornate halls were spectacular.
Our visit to the 15th century Grand Bazaar was an unforgettable experience because nowhere in the world is there such a huge covered market with decorated arches leading to various shopping areas – around 4000 shops full of treasures.
Post dinner we enjoyed a traditional Turkish show that included belly dancing.
The next day included a visit to the old city Sultanahmet where the magnificent structures of St. Sophia and the Blue Mosque are located. We walked through the ancient semenax amazon Hippodrome of the Byzantine period which was the scene of games and races. There are three columns exhibited here – the obelisk, Serpentine Column and the Column of Constantine. Roman ruler Justinian left a majestic landmark – the basilica of St. Sophia, constructed around 535 AD. This is an architectural marvel when one considers the period in which it was constructed. The well-laid out garden around it was full of tulips and other flowers in full bloom which was a feast to the eyes.
Later we visited the 16th century Sultanahmet Mosque, also known as the Blue Mosque because of its breathtaking intricate designs created with blue Iznik tiles.
Of course a visit to Istanbul never ends without a cruise along the shores of the legendary Bosphorus. The waterway is lined with historic mansions and Baroque Palaces and the crowded skyline is dotted with dominating domes and tall minarets.
After Istanbul, we continued our long journey to Gallipoli along the highway overlooking the Sea of Marmara amidst the beautiful landscape. The Gallipoli Peninsula was the scene of the First World War. During the battles, thousands of soldiers from Australia and New Zealand sacrificed their lives. Even today the deployment of AZNAC troops (25th April 1915) is commemorated every year. We were engrossed with the numerous trenches, war cemeteries and a well-maintained museum. This region particularly evoked a keen interest in me since my father was a part of the Indian Army contingent which participated in the campaign.
After ferrying across the Dardanelles straits we had a comfortable stay in a spacious resort by the sea shore at Canakkale. The day ended but not the journey. Therefore we continue to explore the next day….