Turkey is a nation straddling eastern Europe and western Asia.
This country has cultural connections to ancient Greek, Persian, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires.
Throughout its history, Turkey has acted as both a barrier and a bridge between two continents.
The flag of Turkey consists of a red field with a white crescent moon and a white five-pointed star in the center. The origin of the flag dates back to the Ottoman era. The red field represents the blood shed by soldiers who lost their lives during Turkey’s War of Independence. At night when the crescent moon appeared, it reflected on the red pool of blood on the battlefield. The planet Venus, which was considered a star, created a reflection as well. The traditional star had eight points which represented the eight states of the empire. The current Turkish flag, referred to as the red banner in the national anthem, has a star with five points.
The capital city is Ankara. It is located in the country’s central Anatolia region.
A center for the performing arts, Ankara is home to the State Opera and Ballet, the Presidential Symphony Orchestra and several other national theater companies.
Overlooking the city is Anitkabir, the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the leader of the Turkish War of Independence. He was modern Turkey’s first president and he declared Ankara as the capital in 1023. Anıtkabir, is located on a hill called Rasattepe. The 700.000 square metres of land around the mausoelum, includes a Peace Park, which contains plants from all parts of Turkey and the world.
I traveled to Istanbul while teaching in Kuwait. The NESA – Near East South Asia – Teachers Convention was held here one year and I had the opportunity to present a workshop called Games in the Classroom. My sister, Harriet, flew from Nova Scotia to join me in Istanbul and following the conference, we did a short holiday in Hungary before going back to Kuwait.
Istanbul is on the Bosphorus Strait, which links the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara.
We had the opportunity to see several famous sites as we stayed in a B&B right in the heart of the old city.
Istanbul is the home of the Hagia Sophia with its soaring dome and Christian mosaics.
Hagia Sophia is the most beautiful Christian Church in the World from Byzantine Times. The Hagia Sophia was constructed in five years from 532 to 537. Emperor Justinian I ordered it be built and the designer was Isidore of Miletus.
Hagia Sophia was a Church, a Mosque and today it is a museum, honoring both the Christian and Muslim religions. The walls of Hagia Sophia represent a blend between Islamic arts and symbols of Christianity.
Hagia Sophia is a symbol of harmony, peace and tolerance in Turkey.
In the 17th-century the massive Blue Mosque was erected. We were able to tour the interior of this beautiful building. It’s is call the Blue Mosques because of the blue tiles on the walls.
Nearby is the Hippodrome of Constantinople.
This was the place where sporting events took place. Chariot races were held and the horses had to complete 7 laps of the oval track. Today it is a square named Sultanahmet Meydani. There are a few fragments of the original structure remaining. The Obelisk of Theodosius was originally erected for king Thutmose III of Egypt but was transferred to Constantinople, where the emperor Theodosius I ordered it be re-erected in the Hippodrome in 390. To learn more about the obelisk click on the link above.
One cannot visit Istanbul without experiencing the Grand Bazaar.
Here is the Entrance to the Grand Bazaar.
It was fun to walk through and see all the goods for sale.
Be sure to come back next week as Traveling Tuesdays will be going to a place starting with the letter ‘U’.