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TheGuardian Writes “Why I love Turkey?”

Istanbul
Greatest city of Turkey, no need to write more...
Anakara, Anitkabir
Capital of turkey Ankara, Anıtkabir is the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
Cappadocia
Fairy Chimneys, a hoodoo is a tall, thin spire of rock that protrudes from the bottom of an arid drainage basin or badland
Nemrut
Large statues are erected around what is assumed to be a royal tomb from the 1st century BC
Mardin
It is known for the Artuqid (Artıklı or Artuklu in Turkish) architecture of its old cit
Hagia Sophia
Orthodox Christianity Church converted into a Mosque in 1453

Kevin Gould who is a writer at Saturday Travel Section of TheGuardian posted his sights about beauties of Turkey. Below, you can find this writing, but before let us give a brief information about him.

Who is Kevin Gould?

Kevin writes Eat Like A Local for the Guardian’s Saturday Travel section. Having been a chef, a grocer, a restauranteur and a caterer, he and his stomach now travel the world meeting food producers, and looking for where the tourists don’t eat. Kevin’s favourite place is right here, right now; his favourite food is parsley.

From www.guardian.co.uk;

I fell in love with Turkey 28 years ago. Denim jeans were a rare western luxury then and every time the politicians got uppity the army rolled in, imposing swingeing curfews and outlawing anything cultural that seemed vaguely fun. How times change – yet it’s Turkey’s culture and history that makes her so attractive today. Nearly 2.5million Brits will holiday in Turkey this year. The face she shows most of us is thoroughly modern – sort of like Italy, but with moustaches and headscarves. Outside of the eurozone but with Mediterranean, Aegean and Black Sea coastlines, the country offers everything the fun-hungry all inclusive traveller wants. But a step away from the tourist areas is a Turkey of such original beauty that you’d need a thousand lifetimes to spend here, and there’d still be more to discover.

I’ve spent nearly 30 years travelling in luxury coaches, dodgy taxis, Dolmus buses, army helicopters, by boat and on foot and never fail to be thrown by the sheer diversity of a country that’s more like a continent.

Hip, cultural Istanbul is where many travellers start their voyages of discovery. Like New York isn’t America, Istanbul isn’t really Turkey, but a state in it’s own right. Unlike New York, Istanbul has 3,000 years of civilisation to inspire herself with. On the same latitude as Rome (and also built on seven hills), this was the perfect capital for the Emperor Constantine to establish the Eastern Roman empire from, just when old Rome was tearing itself to pieces.

The Byzantines came next. They were Greek-speaking Christians that were nonetheless mullah’d by thuggish crusaders, who carried off her many treasures (check out the golden lions in St Mark’s Square, Venice, for example), leaving the door open to the (Muslim) Ottomans, whose empire stretched from the gates of Vienna all the way round the Med to Mauritania. Istanbul is still the headquarters of the Greek Orthodox church. Awe-inspired pilgrims thought Haghia Sofia’s great dome was suspended from heaven by a golden chain as even you might today. Gorgeous churches, chapels and synagogues are yours to happen upon in her huddled quarters.

Check out the sixth-century Kuçuk (or, Little) Haghia Sofia around the corner from the crowds at the Blue Mosque. Properly known as the church of St Sergius and St Bacchus, its fresco’d and mosaic’d saints look so sharp and fresh, they could have been dressed by Vivienne Westwood.

Boating 10 minutes over to Asia for a cup of tea, or taking the slow ferry to the traffic-free, bougainvillea-crazy Princes’ Islands for a seafood lunch or hilltop picnic you may well be the only British traveller, but you’ll still be amongst friends, for the Turkish welcome is as genuine as it is legendary.

A meander up the Bosphorous brings you to the Black Sea with its shoals of anchovies and wild waves. Within an hour of Istanbul you’re in an Alpine land of tea gardens, hazelnut coppices and Laz-speaking, line-dancing locals who trace their roots back to Jason and his Argonauts.

Turkey’s north east, bordering Georgia and Armenia, is little visited, but the Kaçkar mountains are the intrepid walker’s paradise, with lost valleys, endless vistas and rare wildlife. The village of Yaylayar is home to 130 types of butterfly alone. Englishwoman Kate Clow has previously established two spellbinding walking trails in the Taurus Mountains; her latest is here in the Kackars.

Inland from here is Ankara with its art deco embassies, established by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk as Turkey’s modern capital; from here Çatalhüyük, is an easy drive. This is where wheat was first cultivated: Neolithic people lived here in organised towns about 9,500 years ago.

At school, I was rubbish at history but in Turkey, history is easy to read, and worn on everyone’s face. Turk’s ancestors were once subject to those great colonising, civilising empires, so you see pale-skinned Slavs; ginger-haired Syrians; grizzly Alpine mountain villagers; oval-eyed horse-riding farmers; triangular-faced Mongolian steppe-dwellers; flashing Arabs; proud beautiful Kurds; faded, haunted Thracians; boat-bound Aegean islanders. You see history also in every town and village.

Cappadocia is established on the tourist trail, but its pastel-painted underground churches are definitely worth the visit. Cut from the soft tufa rock, this is where early Christians hid from marauding Romans – a case of true faith made concrete.

Van, near where Turkey meets Iran, was the capital of the Urartu people in the ninth century BC, and is also famous for its swimming cats. Further south is Upper Mesopotamia, where the great Tigris and Euphrates rivers rise. Urfa is by legend where Abraham was born and Job learned his patience. Gaziantep is where baklava was invented, and Malatya is where your supermarket’s dried apricots come from. In Mardin, people speak Aramaic, just as Jesus did, and if you carry on west to the Mediterranean, you fetch up in ancient Antioch and Tarsus, where St Paul was born.

Turkey’s coastlines are beautiful, and her waters, er, turquoise. The Datça peninsula is as rocky, bird-loud and gorgeous as anywhere in the Med. As you follow the Aegean north, there’s Ephesus, of course, which is beautiful in the late afternoon after the tour buses have left. Meryem Ev is where the Virgin Mary is said to have spent her last days, and when the sun’s setting over these graceful Grecian ruins, you might want to stay here forever, too.

Izmir is olive oil and wine country – Turkey is one of the world’s largest grape producers, and Turkish wines can now take their place with the best of the New World. Even if they’re really from the Ancient one.

Before you hit Troy there are the tiny Aegean islands of Bozcaada and Gökçeada, famous in Greek mythology and also as where Allied troops waited before wasting their lives at Gallipoli. Gallipoli, like neighbouring Trakya (Thrace) is wild, weird and possessed of a hauntingly empty beauty. This is where the Persian king Xerxes had the Dardanelle Straights whipped because their currents would not obey his majesty when he so badly wanted to invade Greece. This is also where I love to eat garlicky clams and salads of sea vegetables, and drink cold Truva beers.

Along the Marmara Sea you’re back in Istanbul, having travelled thousands of miles and through ten thousand years of history. Turkey’s climate ranges from snowy Alpine through wind-whipped steppe, waterless desert and balmy Mediterranean. You’ll have eaten some of the most delicious food in the world, and the Turks you’ve met will have treated you with kindness and joy. The truth is, Turks just love having visitors.

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Ayasofya (Haghia Sophia) Museum

Inlay Mosaic
Virgin and Child flanked by Justinian-I and Constantine-I
Candles
Central dome candles of the museum
Angles
Angle picture in the historic museum
Hagia Sophia Museum
Panoramic view of Hagia Sophia Museum
Inside View
Inner panoramic view of the Hagia Sophia museum
General View
South inlet panoramic view of the Hagia Sophia

Haghia Sophia Museum is located in Sultanahmet across from Sultan Ahmed Mosque. Considered one of the finest architectural works in the world, it was originally built as a church. Construction began during the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Constantine 1, but was only completed in AD 360 during the reign of Constantine II.

The first Haghia Sophia was partially burnt during an uprising. It was repaired by Theodosius II and opened to worship in 415, but was burned to the ground during another public uprising in 532.After the revolts, Emperor Justinian determined to build an unparalleled place of worship and entrusted two architect-engineers from Anatolia, Isidoros and Anthemios, with the task. Building materials were brought in from all the Mediterranean countries. In addition, the columns of a number of Pagan temples in Anatolia, including the Temple of Artemis, were dismantled and used in the building. The construction lasted five years, and Haghia Sophia was once again open to worship. The structure standing today is that which was built as a church by Justinian. Haghia Sophia was occasionally damaged, but was repaired and additions were built. Despite the changes, its essence remains untouched.

Haghia Sophia experienced its darkest days during the Latin occupation, it was looted, damaged and a number of its valuable furnishings were removed and taken to the churches of Europe. When the city once again passed into the control of the Byzantines, the church was in terrible condition. Using limited resources, efforts were made to restore it. It was then badly damaged in the earthquake of 1344 in which parts of it, including a section of the dome, collapsed. The increasingly impoverished Byzantines were unable to repair it and it remained closed for a period. Through the levy of special taxes and collection of donations, the church was once again repaired in 1354. Despite these efforts, Haghia Sophia was not to return to its full glory after the Latin occupation until the conquest of Istanbul. Immediately following the conquest of the city, Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror went directly to Haghia Sophia. But it was in ruins. He decided on that day to convert the church to a mosque, and thus a new period began for Haghia Sophia.

From the first day it became a mosque, Haghia Sophia became a place of enormous significance for Muslims living within the borders of the Ottoman Empire, as well as others. For hundreds of years it has symbolized and been a reminder of the conquest of Istanbul.

The Conqueror created various pious foundations with the aim of ensuring revenue and constructed a mihrab (mosque niche), minaret and medrese. Haghia Sophia was shown special attention after the conquest, and the additions built on its grounds turned it into a great ‘kulliye’ or religious complex. One minaret was added by Sultan Beyazit II and a second by Sultan Selim II. Sultan Mahmud I added a reservoir for ablutions, a primary school, a soup kitchen, a library, a chamber for sultans and a mosque niche. The mosaics were completely plastered over, previously, only the faces had been covered. During this period a number of sultans and members of royalty were buried in the complex. They include: Sultan Selim II, Sultan Murad III, Sultan Mehmed III, Sultan Mustafa I and Sultan İbrahim. Haghia Sophia underwent minor repairs during the Republican period, but was left relatively alone during the war years. American scientists obtained permission from the Turkish government to uncover the mosaics in 1932. While these works were underway, Haghia Sophia was changed to a museum in 1934 and opened to the public in 1935. Haghia Sophia presently functions as a museum.

The dome of the Haghia Sophia, believed to represent the infinity of the cosmos, is most impressive. To think that this dome was built in the 530s contributes even more to the importance of the mosque. Despite being damaged, the mosaics found within Haghia Sophia are among the most precious in the world. The additions of the Ottomans, far from spoiling its original beauty, have only reinforced its magnificence. The calligraphies, on plates 7.5 meters in diameter, the stone work, which gives it a lace-like appearance, and the glazed tiles are all priceless. The primary school, tombs, fountains and reservoir which make up the complex are also of major significance from an architectural standpoint.

Nowadays, Hiaghia Sophia has also gained interest from readers of Dan Brown who is the famous author of the worldwide best-seller “The Da Vinci Code”. At his last novel named with “Inferno” begins in Italy’s Florence, then moves on to Sienna and ends in Istanbul, with approximately 100 pages devoted to ancient sites in Sultanahmet including Hagia Sophia, the Basilica Cistern, the Galata Tower and the Spice Bazaar.

Ever since the novel’s release, Istanbul’s appeal and draw to the writer has been mentioned regularly in the world press. “Inferno picks three of the world’s most strategically significant, antiquity-rich cities as its settings, and Langdon makes a splendid tour guide and art critic throughout,” writes The New York Times.

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