I want to see history in Istanbul
More than Two Thousand Years of History!
Oh how I would love to visit Istanbul!
Istanbul is a mega-city, the largest city in Turkey and 5th largest city in the world. I can't imagine a city with a population of 12.8 million, more than half the number of people who live in the entire continent of Australia.
But it's the magnificent architecture that draws me to Turkey, and the rich, romantic past of Istanbul.
Tales from History
I first heard of the great city of Constantinople in a translation of Snorri Sturluson's In this collection of tales about the Norwegian kings, I was delighted to find the saga of Harald Sigurdsson. Heimskringla: The Chronicle of the Kings of Norway
Harald,(1015-1066) who later became King Of Norway as Harald Hardrada (the tough boss) was the commander of the emperor's personal bodyguard in Constantinople, called the Varangian Guard..
When Harald, after many years service, planned to go home, Emperor Constantine refused.
Harald escaped the 'foolproof' chain across the harbour with a bit of Viking boldness. When his rowboat reached the chain that protected the harbour he ordered everyone that wasn't rowing to the back of the boat and the rowers rowed for their lives. When they had rowed the ship up on the chain he ordered everyone forward. The ship tipped forward and slid off the chain.
Now there's ingenuity for you!
The Last of the Vikings
The amazing true story of the great Viking who changed the course of English history.
The turbulent life and savage death of Harald Hardradi, the last great Norse warrior-king.
Strong, ribald language and lots of action paint a gripping picture of the 11th century.
The many names of Istanbul
Greek colonists founded the city of Byzantion in 667 BCE and, much later, the name Byzantium was used to refer to the Eastern Roman Empire. The Greeks chose this spot where a Thracian city had been standing for at least 500 years.
Constantinople ("City of Constantine") was the name in honour of Constantine the Great who made the city the new eastern capital of the Roman Empire in the early part of the fourth century. I love this stunning bust of Constantine in the Capitoline Museums
Constantinople was the most commonly used name in the West for 1600 hundred years until Turkey became a Republic in 1923.
Istanbul is the correct name for this magnificent city.
It's Istanbul not Constantinople
My mother used to sing this, and it's one of these melodies that stick in my head (when I least want it).
I'll need a Travel Guide
A fully illustrated, pocket-sized travel guide with handy pull-out maps marking all the major sights.
The Terminus for the Orient Express
The Sirkeci Terminal of the Turkish State Railways (TCDD), is the end of the line on the European side and the main connection node of the Turkish railway network with the rest of Europe.
So I could travel to Istanbul on the train! I love train journeys!
I love Train Travel
Three Great Train Journeys of the World
You just can't beat a train holiday. The romance and sheer relaxation of it all is superb. Why go through the hassles involved with driving your car around ...
Where would I start in Istanbul?
There are just so many places I want to see in Istanbul. Where would I start?
Firstly, I would have to visit the Hagia Sophia, surely a wonder of the world
Mosaic of Constantine in Hagia Sophia
The Wonder of Hagia Sophia
Just looking at pictures of Hagia Sophia takes my breath away. As if the the megacity of Istanbul isn't exciting and mysterious enough!
Haga Sophia stands on the first hill of Istanbul at the tip of the peninsula, surrounded on three sides by water - the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn. (The Golden Horn had the chains across the harbour).
This is the epitome of Byzantine architecture and was the largest cathedral in the world for nearly a thousand years, until Seville Cathedral was completed in 1520. The current building was originally constructed as a church between 532 and 537 on the orders of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian and was the third Church of the Holy Wisdom to occupy the site.
The Turkish Bath
The steam room at the local gym is my idea of a Turkish Bath, but the Hamam is the origin of the name.
In Western Europe, the Turkish bath was immensely popular during the Victorian era. The process involved in taking a Turkish bath is very like that of a sauna, but more closely related to ancient Greek and ancient Roman bathing practices.
Sounds good to me!
Hamam of Roxelana
The Roxelana baths
The Roxelana baths are named for the Ukrainian wife of of Suleyman the Magnificent of the Ottoman Empire.
The story of Roxelana, the woman who made Suleyman laugh, is a fascinating one and far too long to be told here. To summarise, she was captured as a child, sold into slavery and ended up in the Sultan's harem where she caught the eye of .Suleyman. He later gave her freedom and married her - so Roxelana, now known as Khurrem, became his legal wife.
Images of IstanbulClick thumbnail to view full-size
How about you?
Would you like to see Istanbul?
© 2010 Susanna Duffy