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Walking further across the Galata bridge you will see the Galata Tower. The tower was built as Christea Turris (Tower of Christ) in 1348 during an expansion of the Genoese colony in Constantinople. This is is a medieval stone tower in the Galata. Built as watchtower to help protect the city especially by spotting fires, this still remains as one of the dominating structures in the city. The cone-capped cylinder dominates the skyline and offers a panoramic vista of Istanbul. The view from the top is completely breathtaking from every angle. Seeing some of the more modern structures from the top makes one realize how diverse this old city of Istanbul is.
Hagia Sophia Museum / Church (Ayasofya)
Santa Sofia was for nearly a thousand years, the largest enclosed space in the world and is still seen as one of the world's most important monuments. It is one of Turkey's most popular attractions, people are drawn by the sheer spectacle of its size, the architecture, mosaics and art. It was built in the sixth century by the Byzantine emperor Justinian. It is closed on Monday.
The tour starts around 9.00 in the morning in Taksim Square. This square is famed for its array of restaurants, shops, and hotels. If you love shopping, you'll enjoy Taksim Square. Not just this, the Square also houses the Monument of the Republic inaugurated in 1928. You can also see the nostalgic tram that runs from the square along the avenue.
The rock of this particular area is of a kind that is malleable and easily crafted. Thus the churches as well as the Uchisar Castle rather than being erected like buildings are structures crafted out of and into the rock faces and the mountainous geography. Uchisar is the highest point in the region and the castle that has been hollowed out into the rock provides excellent views of the region below with Mount Erciyes in the background, seeing tiny holes in the rocks and also numerous fairy chimneys on the land below. Walking through the dark and cool rooms of the castle, up and down stairs cut out of rock, the castle seems like a dwarfish settlement out of one of Tolkiens books! Though erosion and decay have made many areas of the castle inaccessible, many such rooms are used as pigeon houses.
The Golden Horn (Halic) is a horn-shaped fyord on the European side of Istanbul and is fed by two small streams. It is considered to be the world’s largest natural harbour that separates the European shore of Istanbul into two. It’s a harbour where Byzantine and Ottoman fleet and commercial ships were anchored. Today, it's surrounded by parks and promenades with ancient sites around it. Its name comes from the colour of the water when at sunset it shines with a gold colour because of the reflection of the sun. The best places to observe the Golden Horn’s activity and grace are the Galata Bridge if you want ringside seats, and the Topkapi Palace or Pierre Loti Café if you prefer a bird’s-eye view.
Dolmabahce Palace was built in the 19th century. It is one of the most glamorous palaces in the world. It was the administrative center of the erstwhile Ottoman Empire when the last of the Ottoman Sultans was residing there. The Dolmabahce Palace is closed on Monday and Thursday.
Ephesus is located in Selcuk, Izmir, Turkey. It was one of the most important cities on the Aegean coast of Asia Minor in the ancient world. The history of the city goes back to 3000 BC. The city was ruled by kings until the latter half of the second century BC, when the Romans took over Asia Minor from Pergamene Kingdom. It was a harbor city and the capital of Roman Asia during the Roman period. The city was also the most important commercial and financial center in the Asian dominions of Rome. Paul made numerous conversions among both the Jews and Greeks during his two visits to Ephesus on his second and third missionary journeys. The total area of the city is nine square kilometers. The fame and prosperity of Ephesus started declining in the second half of the fourth century A.D. Severe earthquakes, which happened between 369-370 AD, devastated the whole city. The city began losing its importance after the fifth century AD because that tens of thousands of people had died in the earthquakes and the harbor was damaged and silted up by the river Kystros.
Beylerbeyi Palace was commissioned by Sultan Abdulaziz (1830-1876) and built between 1861 and 1865 as a summer residence and a place to entertain visiting heads of state. The palace, built on a pier by the sea is a two-story structure built on a high brick basement. The palace, the Harem (north) and Mabeyn-i Humayun (the southern part) consisted of offices, three innings, six large living rooms, 24 rooms and 1 bathroom. It is closed on Mondays and Thursdays.
Derinkuyu Underground City
Speaking of Dwarves and Tolkien, the Derinkuyu Underground City just might fool you into thinking you are in Middle Earth or at least in the middle of the earth. This city built possible between the 8th - 7th century BC is an underground settlement roughly 60-70 meters in depth. This city would have been home to roughly 20,000 people. It has 5 levels which are connected by a vertical staircase and it has a single ventilation shaft. The city has everything from stables, wineries to chapels. Moreover, this is not the only underground city, there are more, one of them, Kayamikli, is connected to this via an 8 KM tunnel. Even the best fantasy writers and their imagination can't beat this place.
Goreme National Park
On our fifth day of our trip in the magical land, we visited Göreme National Park in Cappadocia, an open air museum and another popular UNESCO World Heritage in Turkey with volcanic landscape sculpted by erosion forming a succession of mountain ridges, valleys and pinnacles known as “fairy chimneys”. The location of Göreme was first settled back in the Roman period. Christianity was then the prevailing religion in the region, which is evident from many rock churches that can still be seen today. There are eleven refectories within the Museum, with rock-cut churches tables and benches. Each is associated with a church. Most of the churches in Göreme Open Air Museum belong to the 10th, 11th and 12th centuries where Christians lived, worked and worshipped. What surprise me is the fact that no stone-craved cross is spotted even though cave churches are concentrated in this area. Interior of these caves are covered with beautiful frescoes whose colours still retain all their original freshness. No photo of the fresco was taken because apparently it was strictly prohibited. Sun rays making the ash and lava look like huge gold nuggets. If you think the photos are awesome, wait till you see it with your naked eyes. It was pretty gloomy and cloudy on December. Not forgetting the cold breeze too. We were pretty lucky that it was not raining or else it would be slippery climbing up these caves and we would not be able to have clear view from of the scenery at all.
The Forteleza a monument built in the narrowest section of the Bosphorus covers 30,000 square meters. In preparation for the conquest of Istanbul, the castle was built in about four months in a relatively short period. In some historical documents, it is said that 1,000 masons and workers were employed for construction.