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Turkey

11/5/95 - I drove to JFK Airport from my home in Lincoln Park, NJ to park my trusty Isuzu Trooper in the long term parking lot and begin what I was afraid would be some sort of "march of stupidity" through Turkey. From my first organized tour of Italy in 1963, I have held these nasty little bus and hotel packages in the lowest possible esteem, but I could not understand a word of Arabic, I was having my first experience of an Islamic country, and I had been persuaded into playing it safe by bundling up with fellow Americans. In the words of Rick Steves these trips are often a "self imposed hostage crisis." We put ourselves in the control of the tour guide and never meet anybody except those who want to make money off us. After landing in Istanbul I was directed to the gate where I was to board a continuation flight to the Turkish capital of Ankara in the center of the Anatolian Plateau in what had been ancient Galatia. My only awareness of Ankara's place in history was a remembrance that very early in the ascendance of the Ottomans, on July 28, 1402, a sultan named Bayezid had been defeated and taken prisoner by the Mongols under Tamarlane. It's one of the driest places in Turkey and was originally settled before 1200 BCE by the Hittites who called it Ankuwash. It is surrounded by Hittite, Phrygian, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman archaeological sites. Most Americans have known of it only since 1923 when Ataturk declared it the capital of the new republic of Turkey.

Istanbul Airport Ankara Airport Hotel Dedeman Ankara Hotel Dinner Setting

11/6/95 - In the late afternoon we were driven from the Ankara airport in a truly luxurious tour bus to one of the finest new five star hotels that I could hope to imagine. After a sumptuous buffet dinner, I wandered around the hotel grounds with a borrowed video camera trying to capture what I thought that the worried folks back home would never believe was possible in this dangerous, fanatical, and supposedly backward country. We really are quite odd in our preconceptions of this country and our delusions about our own cultural superiority. I might be a tour hostage but my trap was very tender indeed.

The hill which overlooks the city is crowned by the ruins of the old castle, which adds to the picturesqueness of the view, but only a few historic structures surrounding the old citadel have survived to the present day. There are, however, many finely preserved remains of Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine architecture, the most remarkable being the Temple of Augustus and Rome (20 BC) which is also known as the Monumentum Ancyranum.

Turkey Trot

11/7/95 - Next morning after a hearty buffet breakfast we were driven to the Museum of Anatolian Civilization in the historical Alpazan district of Ankara. The museum is housed within two buildings, the Mahmut Pasa Bedesteni and the Kursunlu Han. Mahmut Pasa was a vizier of Mehmet II, the conqueror of Constantinople, who constructed the Bedesteni sometime between 1464 and 1471. It has ten domes over a rectangle surrounded by 102 shops facing each other. The Han serves as the main museum building and it is a typical Ottoman caravanserai with a courtyard and an arcade in the middle surrounded by 30 rooms on the ground floor and 28 on the first. The artifact collection may very well be the best of its kind in the world.

Museum of Anatolian Civilizations Museum Interior Rhyton Jug Ramshead Goblet
Painted Pot Woman Carrying a Pitcher Mother Goddess Ceremonial Bronze Standard

After a quick photo-op at the Monumentum Ancyranum in Ankara we were reloaded onto the great bus for a short journey to the edge of the city to visit the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the leader of the Turkish war of independence and the founder and first president of the Republic of Turkey.

Monumentum Ancyranum Ataturk Mausoleum Ataturk's Car Ataturk's Rower

After touring the museum we drove east out of Ankara on E88 to the ugly steel plants of Kirikale and then southeast on D765 past Keskin to its junction with D260 and on through Kirsehir to Kaseri in ancient Cappadocia where we checked into a lovely new Hilton hotel overlooking Republic Square. After dinner I took a stroll around the Republic Square in front of my hotel to look at the old city walls, the Sahabiye Medresesi, and a mosque called Yeni Camii before taking a picture of the square from my room window.

Kirikale Keskin Kirsehir Republic Square, Kayseri
Kirikale Kirikale Kirikale Kirikale

11/8/95 - After an early breakfast at the hotel in Kayseri we drove southwest on D805 to its intersection with D765 at the town of Derinkuyu with its multi-level underground city. These underground cities were carved out of a thick layer of tufa or volcanic ash from a pre-historic volcano explosion. Over 200 such cities of at least two layers deep have been found in this area between Kayseri and Nevsehir. The cities contained food stores, kitchens, stalls, churches, wine and oil presses, ventilation shafts, wells, and a religious school. Derinkuyu has at least eight levels with a depth of 85 meters and could have sheltered thousands of persons.

Chart of Derinkuyu Derinkuyu Interior Derinkuyu Derinkuyu

After a well timed walkabout in Derinkuyu, we returned to the bus for a short ride north along D765 to Nevsehir, the capitol of the Cappadocia region. The first settlements in this region date back to 3000 BCE and its oldest name is Nyssa. It seems that about three million years ago two mountains named Mt. Erciyes and Mt. Hasan exploded and covered this area with volcanic ash. The natural effects of wind, rain, and water then eroded this area into a spectacular surrealist landscape of rock caves, capped pinnacles, and fretted ravines in warm tones of red and gold interspersed with cool tones of green and gray.

Nevsehir Landscape Nevsehir Nevsehir Landscape Nevsehir Home

After gawking our way around Nevsehir we rode on to the Goreme National Park, an open air museum where we could look at the interiors of 10 Christian cave churches carved into the tufa. The signs tell me that in the fourth century Cappadocia became known as the "Land of the Three Saints" because of theologians named St. Basil the Great, his brother St. Gregory of Nyssa, and St. Gregory of Nazianzus. The churches, rectories, dwellings, and a religious school form a large monastic compound in a roughly ring shaped formation carved out of the tufa landscape. After a very knowledgeable presentation by the National Park tour guide we had dinner in Goreme and then returned for our second night in Kayseri.

Goreme Museum Goreme Entrance Goreme Museum Nunnery Goreme Nunnery
Goreme Dome Goreme Fresco Dark Church Goreme Nativity

11/9/95 - In the morning we drove out of Cappadocia and into ancient Lycaonia on the Silk Road (D300) for a pit stop/photo-op 5 km southwest of Aksaray. The guidebook says that originally Aksaray was a Roman town Garsaura that was renamed Archelaïs by Archelaos, the last Cappadocian king. The region came under the control of the Seljuk Turks after the Battle of Manzikert and the Anatolian Seljuk Sultanate they founded left important landmarks in and around Aksaray. The Arab traveller Ibn Battuta who was in the region in the 14th century was impressed by the class of Muslim traders that had emerged in Aksaray and noted the urban center as a beautiful city, surrounded by waterways and gardens, with a water supply coming right to the houses of the city.

Alexander's Macedonian army also passed along this route in the fall of 334 to spend the winter in Gordium (now Yassıhüyük) about 70–80 km southwest of Ankara. At one time the Phrygians who had occupird the city were without a king. An oracle at Telmissus (the ancient capital of Phrygia) decreed that the next man to enter the city driving an ox-cart should become their king. A peasant farmer named Gordias drove into town on an ox-cart and was declared king. Out of gratitude, his son Midas dedicated the ox-cart to the Phrygian god Sabazios (whom the Greeks identified with Zeus) and tied it to a post with an intricate knot of cornel (Cornus mas) bark. The ox-cart still stood in the palace of the former kings of Phrygia at Gordium when Alexander arrived, at which point Phrygia had been reduced to a satrapy, or province, of the Persian Empire.

In 333 BCE, while wintering at Gordium, Alexander the Great attempted to untie the knot. When he could not find the end to the knot to unbind it, he sliced it in half with a stroke of his sword, producing the required ends (the so-called "Alexandrian solution"). However, another solution is presented by Aristobulus, which indicates "he unfastened it quite easily by removing the pin which secured the yoke to the pole of the chariot, then pulling out the yoke itself." That night there was a violent thunderstorm. Alexander's prophet Aristander took this as a sign that Zeus was pleased and would grant Alexander many victories. Once Alexander had sliced the knot with a sword-stroke, his biographers claimed in retrospect that an oracle further prophesied that the one to untie the knot would become the king of Asia.

Like many of our photo-ops this one also offered opportunities to purchase carpets along the exterior wall of a caravanserai designed and built in 1229 by the architect Muhammed bin Havlan el Dimiski for Sultan Alaeddin Keykubad I. The state built these caravansaries and also compensated merchants who were attacked or robbed, providing a sort of insurance system. Entry is by a large gate with stalactite niches. Under the arches on the left are the rooms occupied by the merchants and their servants, shops, and a hamam.

Aksaray Akasay Bahce Aksaray Sultanhani Caravaserai

We then continued our long trek along the Silk Road to the city of Konya. The city came under the influence of the Hittites around 1500 BC. These people were in turn overtaken by the Indo-European Sea Peoples around 1200 BC. The Phrygians established their kingdom in central Anatolia in the 8th century BCE. In the fifth century BCE Xenophon described Iconium, as the city was called, as the last city of Phrygia. The region was overwhelmed by Cimmerian invaders c. 690 BCE. It was later part of the Persian Empire, until Darius III was defeated by Alexander the Great in 333 BCE. Alexander's empire broke up shortly after his death and the town came under the rule of Seleucus I Nicator. During the Hellenistic period the town was ruled by the kings of Pergamon. As Attalus III, the last king of Pergamon, was about to die without an heir, he bequeathed his kingdom to Rome. Under the rule of emperor Claudius, the city's name was changed to Claudioconium, and during the rule of emperor Hadrianus to Colonia Aelia Hadriana.

Most people visit Konya to see the Mevlana Museum which shelters the tomb of Jelaleddin Rumî (1207-1273), known to his followers as Mevlana (or Rumî), a Muslim Shi'ya Sufi poet and mystic and one of the great spiritual thinkers and teachers of all time. This mausoleum continues to draw pilgrims from all parts of the Muslim and non-Muslim world, mainly because, although Mevlana was a philosopher and mystic of Islam, he was not a Muslim of the orthodox type. While he was a devout Muslim, his doctrine advocates unlimited tolerance, positive reasoning, goodness, charity and awareness through love. To him and to his disciples all religions are more or less truth. Looking with the same eye on Muslim, Jew and Christian alike, his peaceful and tolerant teaching has appealed to men of all sects and creeds.

Mausoleum Approach Mevlana Cemetery Mevlana Mausoleum Mevlana Detail
Mevlana Glass Konya Dervishes Mevlana Sarchophagi Mevlana Sarcophagus

After leaving the Mevlana Mausoleum we stop on the nearby Selimiye Mosque for a quick look at the interior before going on to the Karatay Ceramics Museum. The museum was originally a medrese, meaning a school with a frequently but not absolutely religious focus. It was built in 1251 by the Emir of the city, Celaleddin Karatay, serving the Seljuk sultan. Since 1955, the building serves as a museum for Seljuk tiles, while artifacts in stone or in wood are on display in Ince Minaret Medrese. The collection of the Karatay Museum was particularly enriched by the finds collected in the 1970s in Kubadabad Palace, a royal summer residence on Lake Beyşehir.

Selimiye Mosque Karatay Ceramics Museum Karotay Interior Karatay Dome
Karatay detail Karatay Detail Karatay Detail Karatay Detail

The Ince Minare Medrese (Seminary of the Slender Minaret) was built in 1267 as a Muslim theological seminary. It has been restored and is now a Museum of Wooden Artifacts and Stone Carving. It's grand portal, heavily and completely carved with Seljuk decoration and Kur'anic inscriptions, is among the finest of all Seljuk grand portals. The minaret, partially destroyed by a lightning strike in 1901, was exceptionally tall and finely decorated with typically Seljuk sky-blue tiles.

Ince Minaret Medrese Ince Grand Portal Ince Interior Ince Detail

After lunch in Konya we drove D330 to the southwest about 80 miles to make a stop in what had been the ancient capitol of Pisidia and is now called Beysihir on the southeastern shore of Lake Beysihir. Artefacts from the area mark the city as the furthest edge of the Hittite Empire. After the fall of the Seljuks who called the city Viranşehir, it was re-named for a time as Süleymanşehir in honor of one of the Beys of the region's ruling dynasty, the Eşrefoğlu, who made the town into his capital. Since the Beys of Eşrefoğlu resided here, the present name of Beyşehir was gradually adopted for the town. The Great Mosque of Beyşehir built by the dynasty between 1296-1299, also called the Eşrefoğlu Mosque, is considered one of the masterpieces of the intermediate period of Anatolian Turkish Beyliks between the Seljuk and Ottoman architecture styles.

Our tour of the beautiful wooden Eşrefoğlu Mosque was much to short but I managed to get a few photographs before reboarding the bus to travel on to Antalya in ancient Pamphylia.

Esrefoglu Exterior Esrefoglu Interior Esrefoglu Detail Esrefoglu Column Capital

11/10/95 - In my first of two mornings in Pamphylia I reluctantly left my comfortable bed to join my tour group for breakfast and then trooped with them onto our bus for about a 30 mile drive east on D400 just past Serik to the ruins of the ancient Pamphylian city of Aspendos. From my trusty guidebook I learned that the city had been founded in about 1000 BCE by Greeks who may have come here under the leadership of Mopsos from Argos. The wide range of its coinage throughout the ancient world indicates that, in the 5th century BCE, Aspendos had become the most important city in Pamphylia. At that time the Eurymedon River was navigable as far as Aspendos, and the city derived great wealth from a trade in salt, oil, and wool.

The theater was built in 155 BCE by the Greek architect Zenon, a native of the city, during the Roman rule of Marcus Aurelius. It was periodically repaired by the Seljuks who used it as a caravanserai and in the 13th century, the stage building was converted into a palace by the Seljuks of Rum. In order to keep with Hellenistic traditions, a small part of the theater was built so that it leaned against the hill where the Acropolis stood, while the remainder was built on vaulted arches. The high stage served to seemingly isolate the players from the rest of the world. The scaenae frons or backdrop, has remained intact. The 27 ft sloping reflective wooden ceiling over the stage has been lost over time. Post holes for 58 masts are found in the upper level of the theater. These masts supported a velarium or awning that could be pulled over the audience to provide shade.

With a little extra time on my hands I climbed to the top of the Acropolis where I was able to find some archways and an old basilica indicating that the city had still been occupied during Rome's christian period. Just as I was beginning to explore for some camera angles I heard the blast of the tour bus horn gathering the hostages to proceed on to lunch and a pretty photo opportunity along the Eurymedon River. In 467 B.C. the Greek statesman and military commander Cimon, and his fleet of 200 ships, destroyed the Persian navy based at the mouth of the river Eurymedon in a surprise attack. In order to crush the Persian land forces, he tricked the Persians by sending his best fighters to shore wearing the garments of the hostages he had seized earlier. When they saw these men, the Persians thought that they were compatriots freed by the enemy and arranged festivities in celebration. Taking advantage of this, Cimon landed and annihilated the Persians. After lunch I wandered along the river to look at an old Ottoman bridge and the remains of a Roman Aqueduct.

My Antalya Room Aspendos Aspendos Scaenae Frons Aspendos from the Acropolis
Aspendos Arch Ottoman Bridge Aspendos Aqueduct Apendos Aqueduct

Rejoining my tour group we drove about halfway back toward Antalya for a stop at ancient Perge. The city was founded in around 1000 BCE by a large wave of Greek migration and was situated about 13 miles inland as a defensive measure in order to avoid the pirate bands that terrorized this stretch of the Mediterranean. Its ruins include a theatre, a palæstra, a temple of Artemis and two churches. The very famous temple of Artemis was located outside the town. Mathematicians know Perge as the home of a celebrated ancient inhabitant, the mathematician Apollonius (c.262 BC – c.190 BC). Apollonius was a pupil of Archimedes and wrote a series of eight books describing a family of curves known as conic sections, comprising the circle, ellipse, parabola and hyperbola.

We entered ancient Perge through what is called the Roman Gate to distinguish it from the older Hellenistic Gate. The main gate and the walls that stretch off from it on either side were built in the fourth century CE after Perge had expanded beyond its original walls which enclosed a smaller area under the flat topped hill to the north. The shattered round towers of the Hellenistic gate can be seen in the portal of the late Roman gate as we approach the entrance to the city. The inner and outer gateways were connected by curtain walls, with the east wall ending at the agora. During the reign of Septimus Severus (193 - 211) a nymphaeum and a propylon were built on the west curtain wall, with the latter leading into the Roman baths of the city. On the right there is an apsidal structure that served as a church in the early Byzantine period. The inner gateway, with its two splendid round towers is all that remains of the original ring walls of the Hellenistic city. Inside the gateway is a magnificent courtyard of horseshoe shape, from which you could enter the inner city via a two storied gateway. with three portals, a structure that Plancia Magna built for Perge in 120 - 122. Niches and pedestals around the periphery of the courtyard supported statues of Roman emperors and empresses and of the city's founders.

The courtyard within the inner gateway opens onto the beginnings of a colonnaded way that was the main thoroughfare of the ancient city; its marble paving still shows the ruts of wagon wheels. The street is divided by a water channel with a series of cascading pools, fed by the nymphaeum at its upper end. The street was flanked by statues and its sidewalks opened onto arcaded shops. There were also shops in the outer arcade of the agora, a large market-place 213 ft. square, built in the fourth century probably at the same time as the outer walls. This street and the one that crossed it near its upper end divided the city into two pairs of unequal quarters. Within the southwestern corner are the remains of the apsidal basilica that served as the bishopric of Byzantine Perge; and on the lower side of the quarter above it is the palestra dedicated to the emperor Claudius. The ruins on the acropolis hill above the city on the north are from the Byzantine period, built on the foundations of the original prehistoric settlement founded by the 'mixed multitudes' after the fall of Troy.

Perge's Roman Gate Hellenistic Gate Perge Stadium Perge Stadium
Roman Baths Perge Agora Perge Perge Cascades and Nymphaeum

We return to the Talya Hotel for dinner and after a few beers I decide that I must escape my tender trap and get into town for some night pictures. I snapped a record shot from my balcony and then hurried up the beach to where the hotel could fit into my lens and took a picture while there was still a little remaining light. The harbor turned out to be further away than I thought it would be so it took me nearly an hour to get to it and then I didn't think that there was enough ambiant light to take the picture but it gives a little bit of the feel of this quiet beautiful place after night falls.

Sunset from Talya Talya Hotel Antalya Harbor Nigt in Antalya

11/11/95 - The day is mine to deal with in whatever way I choose so I head again for the harbor of Antalya. Antalya was founded in the second century BC by a king of Pergamon, Attalus II. He needed a harbor in the South and had to found a new city since all the other harbors were under Roman protection. The city fast outgrew the nearby Side in importance. In 67 Pompeius used it as a basis for his fight against pirates. In 130 emperor Hadrian visited the city, and for the occasion a great arch was erected. Hadrian improved the cities defences and made it the capital of a new province. In 1207 the Seljuks conquered the city, and used it as a winter residence. Murat II integrated it into the Ottoman empire in the late 14th century.

Antalya Harbor Antalya - Hadrian's Gate Antalya Antalya

11/12/95 - We rose early and made our way up out of Antalya on E87 toward the town of Korkuteli. High in the Taurus Mountains we made a stop at a roadside encampment of some Turkmen tribespeople who were selling jewelry and carpets. There were many little children laughing and crying their way through the tents as we shopped for carpets that were wonderfully hand made by their mothers. My guide was trying to explain to me that the principal Turkmen tribes are the Tekkes of Merv and Attok, the Ersaris, the Yomuds, and the Gokluns, all speaking varieties of a Turkic language and descended from the Mongol invaders who swept across Asia in the 13th century. I was ill at ease with our voyeurism but could not resist buying a small carpet as a souvenir of these amazing survivalists.

Dosemealti Carpet Dosemealti Carpet Dosemealti Dosemealti Carpet

After parting with some of our dollars we climbed back into our bus to continue on our way to the town of Denizli and the nearby Pammukale meaning "cotton candy" in Turkish. The tectonic movements that took place in the fault depression of the Menderes river basin triggered frequent earthquakes, and gave rise to the emergence of a number of very hot springs. The water from one of these springs, with its large mineral content — chalk in particular — created Pamukkale. Pammukale is also the site of ancient Hierapolis, the Sacred City, so named because of the many sanctuaries that stood there in ancient times. The only shrines that remain today are a Temple to Apollo and its associated cave sanctuary to Pluto, god of the underworld. These date from the Hellenistic period, probably from the original foundation by Eumenes II.

Pamukkale Pammukale Pamukkale Pamukkale Detail

From Pammukale we continued to drive along the valley of the Maeander River to Geyre in ancient Caria to visit the ruins of Aprodisias. The first systematic excavations at the site were begun in 1961. These excavations concentrated on the city's central monuments, with spectacular results. In addition to the Temple of Aphrodite, major areas of investigation included the Bouleuterion or Council House, the Theater, and the Sebasteion or Sanctuary of the Emperors. Other important public buildings are the Hadrianic Baths, and the Stadium; the latter seated 30,000 people, and is the best-preserved of all ancient stadia.

Aprodisias seems to have been a very ancient shrine of Ishtar, the fertility goddess of Nineveh ad Babylon, who was one of the predecessors of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. The earliest Greek sanctuary of Aphrodite on this site dates to the sixth century BCE. The city of Aphrodisias became famous in the late archaic period, and during the next four centuries the cult of Aphrodite spread throughout the Graeco-Roman world from thi shrine. She was the mother of Aeneas, the legendary founder of Rome, and her sanctuary here acquired the status of a national shrine among the Romans within half a century after it became part of the Province of Asia. Aphrodisias also became a famous artistic center, and its sculptors exported their works to Rome and elsewhere in the classical world. The Tetrapylon is an elaborately sculptured monumental gateway that originally had four rows of four columns each. Part of the pediment is still in place between a pair of spirally fluted monoliths. This handsome gateway was erected in the mid-second century CE, and was probably part of a processional way to the Temple of Aphrodite.

The propylon of Aphrodite's temenos is some 160 yards west of the Tetrapylon, with the east front of the temple 50 ft. beyond it. Construction of the temple was begun in the first quarter of the first century BCE and completed except for its precinct wall during the reign of Augustus. The precinct wall was completed during the reign of Hadrian. It is a pseudo-dipteral temple with eight columns on its end and fifteen along its sides. Fourteen of the columns are still standing, all but one of them complete with their Ionic capitals, and two groups continue to support fragments of the architrave. The temple was converted into a church in the late fifth century CE, when the edifice was made into a basilica. The foundations of the Hellenistic Temple of Aphrodite have been unearthed within the nave.

There is a large complex of structures on the south side of the temenos including an elegant little theater or Odeum with nine rows of seats divided into nine sectors, the ends of the tiers adorned with lion heads. The Oeum seated 1,700 and would have been used for cultural events as well as meetings of the senate and town council. The floor of the auditorium was covered with mosaic pavement and the stage building was adorned with sculptured reliefs and statuary. A backstage corridor opened ono a porticoed square lined with portrait studies of prominent Aphrodisians. Adjoining the odeum to the northwest is a circular heroum dedicated to an unknown hero, whose ornate sarcophagus is in the museum.

Aphrodisias Tetrapylon of Aphrodisias Temple of Aphrodite Aphrodisias Theater
Temple of Aphrodite Hadrianic Baths Odeum of Aphrodisias Stadium

From Aphrodisias we continued on E87 through ancient Caria on our way to Kusadasi where we checked into the Imbat Hotel for a two night stay and enjoyed a hearty dinner. My room overlooked the hotel swimming pool and provided a good view of the sun setting over the Aegean with the Greek Island of Samos in the distance toward the south.

11/13/95 - Officially this was a rest and lie around the swimming pool day and most of my tour mates were happy for a non-travel day. They were satisfied sleeping late and shopping in the boutiques and specialty shops of Kusadasi. I was very excited about finding a day tour that could take me to Priene, Miletus, and Didyma; all members of the Panionic League, a sort of United Nation precursor providing a common foreign and domestic policy for the ancient Ionian cities. The first stop for our little mini-bus was about 17 km south of Kusadasi at the ruins of the Panionium, the common sanctuary for the members of the Panionic League dedicated to Poseidon Helikonios. The remains of the Panionium are on the top of a small hill now known as Otomatik Tepe and within the temenos wall it is overgrown and difficult to explore.

Next we continued on along the road south passing quickly through some small villages that looked like they would be fun to explore. At Soke we had a momentary photo-op of the marketing efforts of the inhabitants as they attempt sales to Priene bound visitors. We then drove south on D525 for about 13 km to the town of Gullubahce, the nearest village to Priene.

The site is the most breathtaking of all that I have visited in Greece or Turkey. Maybe its the fact that you are so far from any modern civilization, you could hear a pin drop in the silence, the visitors are respectfully silent, the guides stay out of the way, and the surrounding geology is magnificent. I want to come back here and camp here for a week to watch the days come and go. In that time I could symbiotically absorb more of what the ancient Greeks were about than through all the books that I have laid my hands on. This was the glory that was Greece.

It is a bit of a climb up and at the crest of the old walls the view of the city explodes upon you. The backdrop is the sharply rising cliff of Mt. Mycale (Samsun Dagi) with the five 40 foot marble Ionic columns of the Temple of Athena Polias as the foreground. The temple which dates from the 4th century BCE was designed by the renowned architect Pythius, who created the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The temple had six columns on the front and rear and eleven on the sides, with a pair of columns on both its front and rear porches. This was the first Ionic temple to have a rear porch, or episthodomus, a feature that Pythius adapted from the Doric order; it was henceforth included in all large Ionic temples. The temple was begun by Pythius in 340 BCE and endowed in 334 BCE by Alexander the Great, whose name was inscribed on one of the projecting walls of the front porch.

The city was built in accordance with the "grid system" developed by the architect Hippodamus of Miletus. The E-W main streets are intersected by lanes or alleyways running N-S and which are provided with flights of steps to accommodate the steep rise. The ancient Bouleuterion which could seat 640 is well preserved as is the theater which could hold 5000 attendees. The so called House of Alexander which may have been occupied by him in 334 BCE, when he was laying siege to Miletus, was harder to figure out.

Panionium Soke Peppers Climb to Priene Temple of Athena Polias
Priene Detail Priene Bouleuterion Priene Theater House of Alexander

Reluctantly leaving Priene we drove across the valley toward the mouth of the ancient Meander to visit the somewhat disappointing ruins of ancient Miletus, especially for the seeker of Greek and Hellenistic places. When Cyrus of Persia defeated Croesus of Lydia, Miletus fell under Persian rule. In 502 BCE, the Ionian Revolt began in Naxos; and when Persia quashed this rebellion, Miletus was punished in such a fashion that the whole of Greece mourned it. A year afterward, Phrynicus produced the tragedy The Capture of Miletus in Athens. The Athenians fined him for reminding them of their loss. Miletus was considered to be the greatest of all the Greek cities in Asia Minor, not only in terms of its overseas colonies like Byzantium, but also because of its contrbutions to Greek philosophy (the first three Greek philosophers of nature, Thales, Anaximander and Anaximenes, lived here in the last century of the Archaic period), and its leadership of the revolt against Persian rule .

At this time of year the ancient agora is flooded as was the structure called the Bay of Lions. The theater was constructed in the fourth century BCE but was greatly expanded during the Roman period to have a seating capacity of 15,000. Directly across from the theater on the south side of the harbor is the gymnasium with the west agora abutting it on the southwest corner. The stadium was erected in 150 BCE and rebuilt in the Roman era. The west agora, the last to be built of the city's three market squares, dates from the same period. Just to the south of this agora are the remains of one of the oldest existing monuments in Miletus, the Ionic Temple of Athena which dates from the first half of the fifth century BCE. I also passed the remains of the the bath house of Faustina, the wife of Marcus Aurelius, and the remains of the Shrine of Apollo Delphinium before the mini-bus horn summoned me to proceed on to Didyma. The cult of Apollo Delphinium originated in the belief that Apollo, in the guise of a dolphin, guided the Ionian expeditions when they sailed to establish their overseas colonies. The oldest elements of the shrine are four altars, which date from the sixth century BCE; these were part of the archaic Delphinium, destroyed when the Persians leveled the city in 494 BCE.

Miletus Overview Flooded Agora Bay of Lions Miletus Theater Exterior
Theater Interior Miletus Gymnasium Faustina Baths Temple of Apollo Delphinium

The back road from Melitus goes down along the southernost peninsula of Ionia for some 12 miles before reaching the village of Yenihisar that surrounds ancient Didyma and the ruins of its colossal Temple of Apollo Branchidae. Its structure is complete except for its colonade, and three of its columns still stand on their lofty platform, including a pair with their Ionic capitals and an architrave still in place. The name Branchidae derives from the family who served as hereditary priests of the shrine during the archaic period, descendants of a legendary figure called Branchus who was given oracular powers when Apollo fell in love with him. It seems that the Greeks who colonized Miletus took over an ancient Carian srine at this site. The Melesians subsequently linked their city to the shrine with a sacred road flanked by larger-than-life statues of priests, priestesses, lions and sphinxes in the Egyptian style, some of which are now in the British Museum, with one solitary lion remaining on the site.

Next to Delphi, Didyma was the most renowned oracle of the Hellenic world, first mentioned among the Greeks in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo. In the sixth century BCE the spring dried up, it was reported, and the archaic oracle was silenced. Though the sanctuaries of Delphi and Ephesus were swiftly rebuilt, Didyma remained a ruin until the first steps of restoration were undertaken in 334 BC. Callisthenes, a court historian of Alexander reported that the spring began once more to flow after Alexander passed through, but there had been a complete break in the oracles' personnel and tradition. The ruins that I walk through are those of the temple rebuilt in the Hellenistic period by King Seleucus I of Syria. This Didymaion, which took five centuries to build, was designed on an even grander scale than its predecessor. It was the grandest edifice in the Greek world, surpassed in size only by the Artemisium of Ephesus and the Heraeum at Samos.

The stylobate measures 167 x 359 ft.; the crepodama is 11 ft. in height and has 7 steps all the way round except the east front where the front porch is approached by a flight of 14 steps. The temple is of the Ionic order and is of the type known as dipteral decastyle, that is, having a cella surrounded by a double colonnade with ten columns at the ends; the side colonnades each have 21 columns; and the deep eastern pronausis is of the tetrastyle with two more sets of four columns behind the front row. Between the front porch and the cella is an antechamber with two Corinthian columns, which served as the chresmographeion or oracle room. This chamber can only be approached by a broad flight of steps leading up from the cella, which is accessible only through a pair of tunnels flanking the stairway. These descending, vaulted structures (among the earliest examples of the Greek use of the vault) give the design an interesting theatricality for those approaching the inner sanctuary would first pass through the Stygian darkness of one of these tunnels before emerging into the blazing light of the sun-trap cella. Inscriptions, including inquiries, responses, and literary testimony record Didyma's role as an oracle, with the "grim epilogue" of Apollo's supposed sanction of Diocletian's persecution of Christians, until the closing of the temples under Theodosius I.

Didyma Sacred Way Didyma Medusa Lion Didyma Overview
Didyma Temple Didyma Detail Didyma Overview Didyma Oracle

11/14/95 - After breakfast in the morning we drove up and away from the coast to the ruins of ancient Ephesus. We were held captive by the tour guide as we sat in the ancient Bouleuterion near the north edge of the city while he explained the area's history.The city of Ephesus was founded as an Attic-Ionian colony in the 10th century BC on the Ayasuluk Hill, three kilometers from the center of antique Ephesus. The mythical founder of the city was a prince of Athens named Androklos, who had to leave his country after the death of his father, king Kadros. According to legend, he founded Ephesus on the place where the oracle of Delphi became reality ("A fish and a boar will show you the way"). Androklos drove away most of the native Carian and Lelegian inhabitants of the city and united his people with the remainder. He was a successful warrior and, as king, he was able to join the twelve cities of Ionia together into the Ionian League. During his reign the city began to prosper. He died in a battle against the Carians when he came to the aid of Priene, another city of the Ionian League. Androklos and his dog are depicted on the Hadrian temple frieze, dating from the second century. Later, Greek historians such as Pausanias, Strabo, the poet Kallinos, and the historian Herodotus however reassigned the city's mythological foundation to Ephos, queen of the Amazons.

I tried to keep listening to the tour guide's talk but while he was intense and intelligent, his accent was very pronounced and it was hard to understand him so I snapped a shot from the upper edge of the Bouleuterion and began to walk through the city on my own. I had to wait quite a long time before I could photograph the Roman public toilet without any tourists sitting on the seats for snapshots. As I walked down the harbor road toward the Celcius Library I passed the Hadrian temple, the Fountain of Trajan, and then reached the library itself which has been lovingly restored from damage done by an earthquake long ago.

Ephesus Bouleuterion Ephesus Curetes Street Varius Baths Public Toilets
Hadrian's Temple Celsius Library Ephesus Agora Ephesus Theater

According to inscriptions in Latin and Greek on the wings of the front steps, the Library was erected in CE 110 by the Consul G.J.Aquila for his father, G.J. Celisus Polemaeanus, formerly Roman Consul and governor of the Asian province.The library was completed in AD 135 by his heirs. Its façade was two-tiered; the interior consisted of a single large hall, measuring 10 × 16 m, comprising the Celsius library itself. The burial chamber under the floor contains the marble sarcophagus of Celsius in an excellent state of preservation

We took seats in the stadium and listened to our tour guide explain about how In the 1st century CE, the Apostle Paul spent over three years in Ephesus preaching the Gospel. It seems that the silversmiths of the city saw some falloff in their sales of Artemis statuettes and called the Christians to task in what was known as the "riot of the silversmiths." According to tradition, Paul delivered a sermon condemning pagan worship in this theater. Sometimes new pardigms are not necesarily good for business as we have seen with the reluctant acceptance of NAFTA by displaced American workers.

Our bus picked us up at the South end of Ephesus so we could be terrorized by a spiraling ride up Ayasoluk Hill in the center of the Turkish town of Selcuk. Here at last was a site that had everything including a Basilica of St. John constructed by Justinian in the 6th century to mark the believed burial site of St. John, who is identified as the apostle, evangelist (author of the Fourth Gospel) and prophet (author of Revelation). Legend had it that John wrote his gospel in Ephesus at the request of other disciples, then died in the church named for him on Ayasoluk Hill. Later legends developed that he was not really dead, but sleeping, and dust could even be seen moving above his grave as he breathed.

I tried to quickly get a picture of a statue of Artemis from her temple, and then ran to where I could get a shot wide enough to encompass a column of the Artemis Temple, the Isa Bey Mosque built by the Seljuk Turks, and the the Ottoman fortress on the crest of the hill. Next stop was the so called House of the Virgin Mary also dating from the 6th century. The Roman Catholic Church has never pronounced on the authenticity of the house, for lack of scientifically acceptable evidence. It has, however, from the blessing of the first pilgrimage by Pope Leo XIII in 1896, taken a very positive attitude towards the probability the house was actually the last home of the Theotokos (Mother of God). Pope Pius XII, in 1951, following the definition of the dogma of the Assumption in 1950, elevated the house to the status of a Holy Place, a privilege later made permanent by Pope John XXIII.

St. John's Basilica Artemis Three Eras Mary's Digs

Removing ourselves from all of this holiness, we hoped back on our bus for a relatively short ride to Izmir (Smyrna) where we were again well fed and properly housed in the waterfront Kilim Hotel.

11/15/95 - On our first morning in Izmir I asked the desk clerk for directions to the old Hellenistic agora so that I could take some pictures in morning light. He put me in the care of another staff member who drove me to a street where I could climb up onto the acropolis of the Hellenistic city. Ancient Smyrna is by far the oldest city on the Aegean coast and rivals even Troy in its antiquity. Virtuaqll nothing is known of the pre-Hellenic inhabitants of Smyrna except that they may have been Anatolian people whom the Greeks called Lelegions. Smyrna was first settled by Hellenic people at the beginning of the first millenium BCE in the Aeolian migration. Excavations have unearthed houses dating from the ninthe to the seventh centries BCE as well a a archaic Temple of Athena which ranks with the temple at Neandria aong the earliest Greek sanctuarie in Asia Minor. Duing the classical period the city was little more than a collection of villages, abandoned altogether at the beginning of the Hellenistic periodwhen the city was rebuilt on a new site on Mount Pagus, the flat-topped hill that rises above modern Izmir.

The ruined acropolis of the Hellenistic city, the "crown of Smyrna," had been on a steep peak about 1250 feet high, which overhangs the northeast extremity of the gulf. Modern Izmir was constructed atop the later Hellenistic city, partly on the slopes of a rounded hill the Greeks called Pagus near the southeast end of the gulf, and partly on the low ground between the hill and the sea. The beauty of the Hellenistic city, clustering on the low ground and rising tier over tier on the hillside, was frequently praised by the ancients and is celebrated on its coins. From the citadel two parallel defense walls extended down to the port to enclose the lower city.

Smyrna is shut in on the west by a hill now called Deirmen Tepe, with the ruins of a temple on the summit. The walls of Lysimachus crossed the summit of this hill, and the acropolis occupied the top of Pagus. Between the two the road from Ephesus entered the city by the Ephesian gate, near which was a gymnasium. Closer to the acropolis the outline of the stadium is still visible, and the theatre was situated on the north slopes of Pagus. Smyrna possessed two harbours, the outer, which was simply the open roadstead of the gulf, and the inner, which was a small basin, with a narrow entrance partially filled up by Tamerlane in 1402 AD.

The streets were broad, well paved and laid out at right angles; many were named after temples: the main street, called the Golden, ran across the city from west to east, beginning probably from the temple of Zeus Akraios on the west slope of Pagus, and running round the lower slopes of Pagus towards Tepecik outside the city on the east, where probably stood the temple of Cybele, worshipped under the name of Meter Sipylene, the patroness of the city. The plain towards the sea was too low to be properly drained and hence in rainy weather the streets of the lower town were deep with mud and water.

View from Smyrna Acropolis Izmir Agora Agora Detail Izmir Detail

At 11:00 AM a mini-bus picked me up at the hotel for a 54 mile ride on E96 along the Hermus River valley (Gediz Cayl) to Manisa and Sart (ancient Magnesia and Sardis). The modern city of Manisa is very nicely located and quite handsome with many buildings made from the native stone. History lies strewn about the whole area as if it were a half-uncovered battlefield of nations. By southern foothills, beyond Byzantine walls, a Hittite road winds toward Ephesus through vines and brambles, and shows a depiction of a thick-set Hittite warrior, with bow and spear, carved on a cliff about 1,280 BCE--the century of Troy. The battle between East and West was fought here in 189 BCE, known as the Battle of Magnesia, when the Romans defeated the Seleucid king Antiochus, fifth in descent from one of Alexander's generals. His realms extended from Babylonia to India, and this collision, which opened Asia to the West and laid Alexander's world in ruins, should be given due importance among the decisive engagements of the world. The hellenistic supremacy of the Mediterranean was cut forever; the Greek civilization in Asia, so fragile and so recent, henceforth transformed itself in poverty and chaos; and most of the astract things we live by, conquered but undefeated, were gradually carried by the Roman victors to the West.

The ruins of Magnesia were rather disappointing except for a stop to see the so-called Niobe Rock high on a promontory nearby with her face trickling with springs that feed her tears. According to the Greek myth, Niobe boasted of her superiority to Leto because the goddess only had two children, the twins Apollo and Artemis, while Niobe had fourteen children (the Niobids), seven male and seven female. By using poisoned arrows, Artemis killed Niobe's daughters and Apollo killed Niobe's sons, while they practiced athletics, with the last begging their lives. According to some versions, at least one Niobid was spared, (usually Meliboea). Their father Amphion, at the sight of his dead sons, either killed himself or was killed by Apollo for having sworn revenge. A devastated Niobe fled to Mount Sipylus and was turned into stone and, as she wept unceasingly, waters started to pour from her petrified complexion.

Sardis was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Lydia which reached its peak under the dynasty of the Mermnadae beginning with the reign of Gyges in 680 - 652 BCE who was apparently the first to exploit the gold washed down by the Pactolus tributary of the Hermus River. The kingdom of Lydia ended in the reign of Croesus (560-546 BCE), when he warred with King Cyrus of Persia. Liberated from the Persians by Alexander the Great in 340 BCE, Sardis became a Greek city with an impressive Temple of Artemis. Ancient Sardis had a very large and prosperous Jewish community, which produced the largest ancient synagogue outside of Palestine. The synagogue occupied a large apsidal area area in the gymnasium south of the palestra and adjoining the highway. The size and grandeur of the ancient synagogue are a testimony to the prosperity and eminence of the Jews in Sardis during the years 220-250 CE with renovations as late as the fifth century. Evidence of a much older synagogue comes from the Jewish historian Josephus, writing in the first century CE, who quotes decrees of Julius Caesar and Augustus guaranteeing the religious freedom of the Jewish community in Sardis, who had apparently possessed this right since the early Hellenistic period.

South of the modern village a road along the east bank of the Pactolus leads to the ruins of the Temple of Artemis. The original shrine of Artemis/Cybele is a large sandstone altar just to the west of the temple on its longitudinal axis. This dates from the fifth century BCE and is called the Lydian Building. Early in the third century BCE, under the Seleucid kings, construction began on the first phase of a east-facing Ionic temple dedicated to Artemis, incorporating the altar at its west end. This was a long and narrow structure with a front porch one-third of the length of the inner sanctuary and with a very shallow rear porch. The cella of this temple was covered with a roof and supported by walls and an internal colonnade in two rows. During the second building phase, which lasted from 175 - 150 BCE. work was begun on the erection of the outer colonnade, which was to have 8 columns on each of the ends and 20 along the sides, with 6 columns outside its front and rear porches. At that time only 17 columns were erected at the east end of the temple, including the 6 columns in the rear porch. The colonnade and the additions were completed (almost) in the third and final phase of construction during the reign of Antoninus Pius. The cella wa divided into two almost equal halves by an intenal cross-wall, with the western half still sacred to Artemis, but the eastern (rear) half dedicated to the late empress Faustina I, wife if Antoninus Pius, who was deified after her death in 141 CE. The row of columns on the west front of the temple was never erected except for one at the southwest corner.

Niobe of Magnesia Sardis Columns Temple of Artemis Artemis Detail
Artemis Detail Gymnasium Sardis Baths Sardis Synagogue

We departed Izmir on E87 past Karsayaka to Menemen where our guide explained that there had once been what is known to Turkish history as the "Menemen Incident." It seems that on December 23, 1930, Dervish Mehmed, a Sufi and self-proclaimed prophet, arrived in Menemen with six followers in an attempt to incite rebellion against the secular government and reestablish Islamic law. Mehmed and his enthusiastic supporters overwhelmed the local army garrison and killed the commander who's severed head was put on a pole and paraded through the town. The army soon regained control, killing Mehmed and several of his followers.

We drove on through Allaga and around Candarli Bay to turn inland toward Bergama and the ruins of the ancient city of Pergamum. The city of Pergamum was created by the newly- founded royal dynasty in the mid-third century BCE. As we climb up to the Acropolis, the guide struggles to explain that the remains that we are seeing on the left hand side are the monumental tombs or heroons built for the kings of Pergamum during the Hellenistic period. Shops are situated at their side. When we enter the Acropolis, the remains seen at our left side, are the foundations of Propylon (monumental gates) which were constructed by Eumenes II. When we pass to the square surrounded with three stoas of the Doric order our attention is called to the ruins of the temple of  Athena, built during the time of Eumenes II in the 3rd century BCE. It's just above the theater. The famous Library of Pergamum which contained 200,000 books, was situated north of the square. Antonius gave all the books of the library to Cleopatra as a wedding gift. The remains near the library, are some houses from the Hellenistic period. Leaving the guide I climb up the stairs to what my book says are the remains of the palaces of Eumenes II and Attalos II. Inside the Acropolis there are houses, military barracks and military warehouses called "Arsenals". The building that has been restored at present, is the Temple of Trajan. Trajan started it but after his death Emperor Hadrian (117-138) finished the temple in Corinthian order and it was placed upon a terrace with dimensions of 68 x 58 m. After a short walk we arrived at the Asclepion, said to be the world's most famous ancient medical center. Founded by a man named Archias, the Asclepion of Pergamum became famous under Galen (131-210 AD), a local physician who pursued his medical studies in Greece and Alexandria (Egypt) before settling here as doctor to Pergamum's gladiators.

Temple of Trajan Pergamon Detail Pergamon Theater Asclepion

All of this area north of ancient Smyrna was known as Asian Aeolis by the Greeks. The first people to move here were the Aeolians who moved here in about 1,100 BCE from their homes in Thessaly, Phocis, Locris, and Boeotia. They first settled on the islands of Lesbos and Tenedos, and a little later crossed over to Anatolia, where they founded settlements in the Troad (the land of Troy). Twelve of these settlements formed a confederation called the Aeolian League.

Returning to E87 we continued north along the Aegean toward Ayvalik. The town was occupied by the Greek Army on 29 May 1919 in order to protect the Greek Christians from the wholesale slaughter by the Muslim Turks, and taken back three years later by Turkish forces under the command of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk on 15 September 1922. Following the Turkish War of Independence, the Greek population was forcibly expelled and all Christian males were said to have been exterminated in the slave labor camps under Turkish control. The forcibly expelled peoples in the town were replaced by a Muslim population from Greece and other formerly held Ottoman Turk colonies under the 1923 agreement for the Exchange of Greek and Turkish Populations. Today the little seaside town looks through an archipelago of off offshore islands to the eastern side of the Greek island of Lesbos that seems to rise directly out of the turquoise Aegean.

We then continued along the Bay of Edremit to Burhaniye and then turn at Edremit to pass south of Mt. Ida on the northern edge of the Bay of Edremit to the little town of Ayvacik where we turn right to visit the Turkish town of Behramkale where the acropolis of the ancient Aeolian city of Assos towers over the little port city. The most illustrious period in the history of Assos came in the years 355-341 BCE when it was the capital of the Mysian pricpality ruled by Hermias, the Tyrant of Atorneus. Hermias had been a student of the Platonic Aademy in Athens, and when he came to power in Assos he founded a new philosophical school there. After Plato's death in 348 BCE, Hermias was joined in Assos by several members of the Academy including Aristotle, Theophrastus, Callisthenes, and Xenocrates; and thus for a brief period, the city became one of the most brilliant centers of culture in the Greek world.

We then continue on to the village of Gulpinar where we visit the ruins of an Ionic temple in ancient Chryse. All that remains of the temple are its stylobate (the upper step or platform) and some columns but it has been identified as a sanctuary of Apollo Smintheus, the Mouse God, whose ancient shrine is known to have been in Chryse. The Smintheum of Chryse is referenced five times in the first book of the Iliad, for this was the home of Chryseis, the captive mistress of Agamemnon, whose kidnapping from Apollo's sanctuary brought down upon the Greeks the awesome anger of the Mouse God.

In the Iliad, the Achaeans set up their camp near the mouth of the river Scamander (presumably modern Karamenderes), where they had beached their ships. The city of Troy itself stood on a hill, across the plain of Scamander, where the battles of the Trojan War took place. The site of the ancient city is some 5 kilometers from the coast today, but the ancient mouths of the alleged Scamander, some 3,000 years ago, were about that distance inland, and poured into a large bay which formed a natural harbour which has since been filled with alluvial material. The most important monument still existing at Troy is the Temple of Athena, whose ruins are in the northeast quarter of the mound. A temple of Athena is memntioned by Homer in the Iliad, but it is just a literary invention, for the Homeric siege of Troy is set some five centuries before the first Greek setlement on the site. The Temple of Athena is also referenced by Herodotus, who in book VII of his Histories records that Xerxes made a pilgrimage there before he crossed the Hellespont, sacrificing a thousand oxen as an offering to "the Trojan Athena".

It is recorded that Alexander the Great visited Troy immediately after he crossed the Hellespont, at the beginning of his invasion of Asia in the spring of 334 BCE. Strabo writes that Alexander vowed to rebuild the Temple of Athena at Troy, and that the promise as fulfilled by Lysimachus. The new temple was built in the Doric order, as demonstrated by fragments found by Schliemann in the debris of the Hisarlik mound. Troy was also a place of pilgrimage for the Romans, because of the myth that Rome had been founded by Aeneas, the only surviving son of King Priam of Troy. Julius Caesar, who believed himself to be a direct descendant of Aeneas, visited Troy and gave the city immunity from taxation. The whole city of Troy was rebuilt during the reign of Augustus (27 BCE - 14 CE); at which time the entire top of the mound was leveled to to enlarge the sacred enclosure of Athena's temple. which was then completely rebuiltoce agaain but again using many architectural elements from the Hellenistic structure.

Troy Wall Entrance Ramp Troy Odeon Dardanells Sunset

From ancient Troy we returned to E87 and drove north to our Tusan Hotel and watched the sunset over the Dardanelles.

Istanbul from Satellite

11/16/95 - Next morning we drove east along the northern coast of Asia on E90 from Canakkale for about a half hour to ancient Lapseki. The town was founded by Greek colonists from Phocaea in the 6th century BC. Soon afterwards it became a main competitor of Miletus, controlling the trade roots in the Dardanelles. The modern name derives from when the city was under the rule of King Mendrom and named Pityausa. The king, who defended the colonists from the attacks of the local people, minted coins for the first time in the name of his daughter Lapseke.

We continue along E90 to pass quickly by Daryan, Cardak, Adatepe, and Sevketiye to leave the coast near Kirazlidere and drive south past Disbudak and Biga to cross the famous Granicus River (now Biga Cayi). Here at a point 15 miles from its mouth on the Dardanelles, on the third of May in 334 BCE, Alexander and his army crossed the shallow river from west to east under cover of darkness to surprise the Persian army led by a mercenary Greek named Memnon from Rhodes and various local satraps.

The Persians must have known that something was wrong when they heard the sound of the approaching phalanx. The cavalry rushed forward and there was a brief cavalry fight in which Black Cleitus saved Alexander's life. The outcome, however, was never in doubt: already during the cavalry fight, the infantry lines clashed, putting an end to Persian hopes to be able to defeat the Macedonian cavalry and attack the Macedonian phalanx from two sides. The Persian army was destroyed; the last to resist were the Greek mercenaries. They were massacred or enslaved and sent to Macedon as mine slaves to punish them for fighting for Persia. I was only able to snap a quick picture of the battlefield from the bus window.

Granicus Battlefield

We then continue our journey toward Istanbul turning onto hughway D-5 outside of Karacabey to pass by Bursa and then Gebze where my guidebook tells me that in 183 BC, Hannibal, the Carthaginian leader generally considered one of the greatest military commanders in history, committed suicide in what was then the ancient Greek port city of Libyssa. Thirty miles later we cross from Asia back to Europe across the Dardanelles Bridgeinto Istanbul where we entered the city in the early evening by driving along the city walls where I was able to snap a quick picture. I was also lucky enough to be sitting in the front seat of the bus so that I could catch a photo of the top of the Blue Mosque as we continued toward our hotel on Taksim Square

Walls of Istanbul Blue Mosque Taksim Hotel View from Hotel

11/17/95 - Next morning we boarded our bus again to drive past the Hippodrome to visit the Sultan Ahmet Camil or Blue Mosque. Our guide struggled to explain that the race-track at the Hippodrome was U-shaped, and the Kathisma (emperor's loge) was located at the eastern end of the track. The Kathisma could be accessed directly from the Great Palace through a passage which only the emperor or other members of the imperial family could use. The Hippodrome Boxes, which had four statues of horses in gilded copper on top, stood at the northern end; and the Sphendone (curved tribune of the U-shaped structure, the lower part of which still survives) stood at the southern end. These four gilded horses, now called the Horses of Saint Mark, whose exact Greek or Roman ancestry has never been determined, were looted during the Fourth Crusade in 1204 and installed on the façade of St Mark's Basilica in Venice.

The most prominent features of the Hippodrome today are the two obelisks. In 390 Theodosius the Great, brought the first obelisk from Egypt and erected it inside the racing track. Carved from pink granite, it was originally erected at the Temple of Karnak in Luxor during the reign of Tuthmosis III in about 1490 BC. Theodosius had the obelisk cut into three pieces and brought to Constantinople. Only the top section survives, and it stands today where Theodosius placed it, on a marble pedestal. The obelisk has survived nearly 3,500 years in astonishingly good condition. In the 10th century the Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus built another obelisk at the other end of the Hippodrome. It was originally covered with gilded bronze plaques, but they were sacked by Latin troops in the Fourth Crusade. The stone core of this monument also survives, known as the Walled Obelisk.

From our parking lot near the Hippodrome we walked toward the magnificent Blue Mosque of Sultan Ahmed. The design of the Sultan Ahmed Mosque is the culmination of two centuries of both Ottoman mosque and Byzantine church development. It incorporates some Byzantine elements of the neighboring Hagia Sophia with traditional Islamic architecture and is considered to be the last great mosque of the classical period. Construction on the mosque began in 1609 and took seven years. Sultan Ahmet died only a year after the completion of his masterpiece, at the age of 27. He is buried just outside the mosque with his wife and three sons. I took a picture of the Egytian obelesk with the Blue Mosque on the right and Hagia Sophia on the left as background and then, while our tour group was waiting its turn to enter the courtyard, I ran around to the north side of the mosque to snap a picture of the fountain and the mosque from the beautifully tended gardens.

As non-worshippers we entered the mosque's courtyard using the north entrance. Hanging from this gate are symbolic chains that encourage everyone, even the sultan on horseback, to bow his or her head upon entering. After walking across the vast inner courtyard, we entered through the soaring gateway and into the magically lighted interior. At its lower levels and at every pier, the interior of the mosque is lined with more than 20,000 handmade ceramic tiles, made at Iznik (ancient Nicaea) in more than fifty different tulip designs. The tiles at lower levels are traditional in design, while at gallery level their design becomes flamboyant with representations of flowers, fruit and cypresses.

Hippodrome Blue Mosque from Hippodrome Blue Mosque from North Blue Mosque Ablutions
Blue Mosque Interior Blue Mosque Interior Cascading Domes Blue Tiles

Leaving the Blue Mosque we walked across a busy street to the famous Hagia Sofia. The Church of the Holy Wisdom, known as Hagia Sophia (Άγια Σοφία) in Greek, Sancta Sophia in Latin, and Ayasofya or Aya Sofya in Turkish, is a former Byzantine church and former Ottoman mosque. Now a museum, Hagia Sophia is universally acknowledged as one of the great buildings of the world. Nnothing remains of the original Hagia Sophia, which was built on this site in the fourth century by Constantine the Great. Constantine was the first Christian emperor and the founder of the city of Constantinople, which he called "the New Rome." The Hagia Sophia was one of several great churches he built in important cities throughout his empire.

Following the destruction of Constantine's church, a second was built by his son Constantius and the emperor Theodosius the Great. This second church was burned down during the Nika riots of 532, but we were able to view and photograph fragments of it just outside of the exonarthex which was once reserved for the unbaptized members of the congregation. I was fascinated by an ancient stone font in the narthex with a snake curling around it but couldn't learn any more about it from our guide.

As we walked into the church from the west side narthex we were looking at the huge semi-circular apse on the eastern side of the interior. The magnificent dome towers over this apse flanked by semi-domes and conches with galleries over the side aisles and the narthex. On a mosaic over the Imperial Gate from the narthex to the church Leo VI, the Wise (886-912), is shown prostrated at the feet of Christ with medallions of the Virgin and an Archangel above. In another mosaic Justinian (left) presents a model of church of Hagia Sophia to the Virgin Mary while Constantine on the right presents her with model of Constantinople

Hagia Sophia Remains of Theodosis Church Hagia Sofia Exonarthex Font in Narthex
Hagia Sophia Interior Hagia Apse Imperial Entrance Mosaic Detail Contrast

Next we marched off toward the Golden Horn to visit the magnificent palace of the Ottoman sultans at Topkapi. Initial construction started in 1459, ordered by Sultan Mehmed II, the conqueror of Byzantine Constantinople. The palace is a complex made up of four main courtyards and many smaller buildings. At the height of its existence as a royal residence, the palace was home to as many as 4,000 people, formerly covering a larger area with a long shoreline.

After entering the huge entrance to the complex we grouped up around some glass cases containing models of the palace and the Seraglio area jutting out into the entrance to the Golden Horn. After that it is just bedazzlement after bedazzlement with exquisite gardens leading to porticoed palaces filled with impossibly elegant rooms that go on forever.

Seraglio Model Topkapi Entrance Topcapi Inner Courtyard Topkapi Pillars
Topkapi Interior Topkapi Interior Revan Kiosk Circumcision Room

All of that was before an elegant lunch in the Konyali Restaurant with a view over the Golden Horn to the Galata Tower on the other side of the Galata bridge. Climbing up the Galatia Tower was our first objective in the afternoon and it provided a look back across the Galata Bridge at the Topkapi Grounds and a panoramic view of European and Asiatic Istanbul.

Konyali Restaurant Galata Tower View from Galatia View from Galata

Before returning to our hotel at the end of the day, we stopped for what was much too short of a visit to the Archaeological Museum where I took some quick snaps of the few exhibits which were decently lighted including the superb Alexander Sarchophagus so named because of its portayals of Alexander at peace and war. The sarcophagus is constructed of Pentelic marble retaining traces of its polychromy, in the form of a Greek temple. The carvings on one long side of the piece depict Alexander fighting the Persians at the Battle of Issus. Volkmar von Graeve has compared the motif to the famous Alexander Mosaic at Naples, concluding that the iconography of both derives from a common original, a lost painting by Philoxenos of Eretria. Alexander is shown mounted, wearing a lionskin on his head, and preparing to throw a spear at the Persian cavalry. The "historicity" of the figures accepted by von Graeve seems to Karl Schefold to be less stressed than the mythic content of battle and royal hunt, but some scholars believe that a second mounted Macedonian figure near the center represents Hephaestion, Alexander's older close friend. A third mounted Macedonian figure is often identified as Perdiccas.

Archeolgy Museum Archeolgy Museum Entrance Archeology Museum Interior Archeology Museum
Archaelogical Museum Babylonian Duck Alexander Sarchophagus Alexander Sarchophagus

I missed my first meal of the tour while suffering the symptoms of dysentery but was later told by my tour mates that it was the best ever. I managed to call an old Prudential friend named Steve and we agreed to meet in the hotel lobby the next morning.

11/18/95 - I met Steve in the lobby and talked about his work as a missionary in Istanbul. I sort of have mixed feelings about his work that I assume has something to do with converting Muslim outliers into "decent" Christians so they can have superior rewards during the end times. While working together, Steve and I have had spirited dialogs about the matter of faith and I have much respect for the intensity that he brings to his beliefs. I am still somewhat weakened from my illness and cannot stray any great distance from a bathroom so we walk somewhat gingerly around Taksim Square and then take the world's second oldest subway to the Grand Bazaar. There are 4000 shops with most of them ranging between 2-3 sq. meters and crammed with people inside, pushing and poking while shopping like crazy.

Taksim Square Taksim Subway Grand Bazaar Taksim Square

After a very careful lunch we hop the tram again to go the edge of the Golden Horn where we could catch a ferry going up to the Black Sea. I am not so sure about riding on a heaving deck but at least there will be a bathroom aboard. While waiting for the ferry I see a beautiful little mosque nearby. It turns out to be the mosque of Rüstem Pasha (1500-1561), a Bosnian by birth, who was the son-in-law and a grand vizier of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent (1520-1566). Although competent, he is remembered in history for having plotted with Süleyman's wife, the famous Roxelana (Hürrem Sultan) to denounce Prince Mustafa, Süleyman's son and heir to the throne, as the mastermind of an army plot to dethrone the sultan. Süleyman had Mustafa beheaded, which allowed Roxelana's son Prince Selim, an incompetent drunkard interested only in the pleasures of the harem, to succeed to the throne.

As we rode up the Bosporus toward the Black Sea we were also able to see another of the former sultan's homes named the Dolmabahçe Palace. Steve explained that the Dolmabahçe Palace, a blend of various European architectural styles, was built between 1843-1856 by Karabet Balyan, the court architect of Sultan Abdulmecid. The Ottoman sultans had many palaces in all ages, but the Topkapi was the official residence until the completion of the Dolmabahce Palace.

The three-storied palace built on a symmetrical plan has 285 rooms and 43 halls. There is a 600 m long quay along the sea and two monumental gates, one of them very ornate, on the land side. Well-kept, beautiful gardens surround this seaside palace. In the middle, there is a large ballroom with a ceiling higher than the other sections. The entrance section of the palace was used for the receptions and meetings of the sultan, and the wing behind the ballroom used as the harem section.

Rustem Pasha Mosque at Eminonu Leaving Ferry Stop Galata from Ferry Dolmabahce

11/19/95 - After another sickly night in the beautiful Taksim Square Hotel and another missed dinner during which my tourmates tipped our tour guide with $100 per person, I woke from inadequate sleep to stumble onto the tour bus for the ride to the Ataturk Airport. Feeling embarrassed for not having been at the ceremonial parting dinner, I folded all of my remaining Turkish lira in the hope that the total amount would not be easily discovered and gave it to the guide as I wished him farewell.

 

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