Thursday, September 15, 2011

Istanbul, Night One

In 1453, Sultan Mehmed II used a 50-day siege and had to blast through walls to get here. Four hundred years of Ottoman rule created most of the eye candy for Mark Twain’s visit in the 1860s. After arriving by ship from Athens during his grand tour, Twain remarked upon the “handsomest city we have seen,” with its dense array of homes, gardens, domes and countless minarets arising from water’s edge. We arrived from Amsterdam on a Boeing 737-800, looking down upon the Europe-Asia nexus where over 13 million live. 20 hours after leaving our home, we arrived at the Sarnic Premier Hotel, with its peak-a-boo view of the Blue Mosque, in old Stamboul.

Of course, James Bond was in Istambul, spying on the Russians from the underground cistern, built in the 6th century. In 1987, it opened to public view. Here's the view.

This eastern part of the Roman empire lasted centuries after the fall of Rome. Among its other public works projects was St. Sophia Church, which became a mosque, and is now a museum, also built in the 6th century.

Cruise ships still park on the Bosphorous, which divides Europe and Asia, and from which Mark Twain offered his thought on the view. (His thoughts on the city, itself, were not as complimentary.)

No comments:

Post a Comment