ILoveMyCamera.com

Turkey, like so many countries in the Mediterranean area, is a wonderful blend of old and new cultures. You can explore the past in buildings and archaeology and also enjoy the vitality of the people living there now.

It has an amazing history -- having been ruled by Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Turk, and a number of other cultures over the centuries.

Some quick facts from the official tourism website for Turkey:

  • Capital: ANKARA
  • Language: Turkish (uses Latin Alphabet)
  • Location: Eastern Mediterranean. Located on two contitents Europe and Asia. The European part of Turkey is called Thrace, while the Asian part is called Anatolia or ( Asia Minor )
  • Religion: 99 percent of the population is Muslim. Turkey is a secular state that assures complete freedom of worship to non-Muslims.
  • Government: Turkey is democratic, secular and social state governed by the rule of law
  • Population: 67.8 million (as of 2000)
  • Currency: New Turkish Lira
  • Area: 814,578 Km2 (314,500 square miles)
  • National Anthem: "Istiklal Marsi"
One of the prominent cities in Turkey is Istanbul. It sits on 2 continents -- Asia and Europe. Over the centuries its name has been changed from Byzantium to Constantinople (named after Roman emperor Constantine I ) to Istanbul. The name changes reflect shifts in rule, culture and religion.

Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque

In Istanbul, make sure to visit the Blue Mosque.

The Blue Mosque was founded by Sultan Ahmet I. He ordered Architect Mehmed Aga to begin constuction in 1609 and the whole complex was completed in 1616.

There are many fascinating facts about this building on the guideistanbul web site.

Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque Interior

Here's a shot of the interior of the Blue Mosque. The dome is 77 feet in diameter and 140 feet high.

The amazing thing inside is the sheer immensity of the building. The stained glass is beautiful and the size of the interior is breathtaking. I took these shots with 35mm slide film and then scanned them in. There is a bit of dust on the pictures, but I didn't take time to clean it up.

Ephesus

Ephesus, Turkey. Until recent decades, this was a city long buried and forgotten. It is probably the most-well preserved ancient city in this region, primarily because it was only dug up a few years ago. This was an important coastal gateway to the Eastern cities, and is mentioned in the Biblical book of Revelation as one of the seven churches of Asia.

You can still walk on the same streets that Paul the Apostle walked on as well as stand in the same theater where he confronted the angry crowd as they chanted "Great is Diana of the Ephesians."

Entrance to Ephesus

Entrance to Ephesus

This is the road leading into Ephesus. You can see many of the columns still standing that once supported homes and commercial establishments of various kinds.

Ephesus Foundations

Ephesus Foundations

Here are some foundations of first century (A.D.) homes. You can still see the engraving on many of the stones. This was a very advanced culture.

Ephesus Doorway

Ephesus Doorway

Here is a double doorway that is still intact. Above the inner opening, you can see the figure of what looks to be one of the Roman gods of merriment (Bacchus, perhaps?). These folks were always paying homage to their deities.

Via in Ephesus

Via in Ephesus

View down a street ("Via") in the ancient city of Ephesus.

Ephesus Latrine

Ephesus Latrine

This somewhat corny shot is actually taken in the bathroom of the ancient city of Ephesus. The subject in the picture (Dr. Charles Farah from ORU) is sitting on one of the commode openings much as someone did long ago (sans pants, of course).

As you can see, this was a community bathroom with little sense of privacy. During Roman times, there was actually running water under the toilets that would carry away the waste. Quite sanitary !

Ephesus Theater

Ephesus theater

These next few shots are of the magnificent theater in Ephesus. It was carved right into the hillside (as all Greek theaters of the time were). As you can see, the seats and stage area are still there -- extremely well preserved for a 2000 year old structure.

Ephesus Theater

Ephesus Theater

Here is the theater from the top row. Looks like it held several thousand spectators. Even though it is quite high up, you can still hear people talking in a normal voice on the stage area below. The acoustics are really phenomenal.

You can read more about the theater and the riot that happened here when Paul tried to tell the crowd about Christ. The story is in the Bible, Book of Acts, chapter 19, starting in verse 23.

Stage

Stage

Here's a closer view of the stage. Just picture a Greek tragedy being played out here.

Ephesus

Way to the sea

Behind the theater lies the "Way to the Sea." This road actually led to the port that Ephesus had in Roman times. Today the port is long since silted up and the sea lies several miles away.

Wonder if the roads we are building today will be around in a couple of thousand years like this one is?

Pergamum

Pergamum Altar

One last stop in Turkey -- the ancient city of Pergamum. This was another major city in western Asia Minor in the first century. It had temples, library and medical facilities and a beautiful theater that looks to be a bit bigger than the one at Ephesus.

This is a shot of the remains of the pagan altar in Pergamum. It stood where the tree in the middle is now growing. The archaeologist that dug the site took the actual altar away to the British Museum in London (?). He planted the tree to mark the spot where the altar originally was.

Jesus, in the Book of Revelation, Chapter 2 calls this the place "where Satan has his throne." That is no doubt a reference to the worship of foreign gods here on this altar. Pergamum was also the official center of emperor worship in Asia.

McAfee SECURE site