I hope you enjoyed reading the day to day recap of my trip with Eric around Iceland and maybe found the blogs useful to help you plan your own trip there. Once Eric and I said our goodbyes at the Iceland airport I flew to Copenhagen, Denmark. From there I caught a continuing flight to Istanbul, Turkey and today I am going to start telling you about my time in the city that merges Europe and Asia and hopefully inspire you to visit this wonderful city. I would like to start by giving you some historical background to the importance of this city, but I don’t want you to miss any future blogs so why don’t you LIKE svGuidingLight on Facebook to stay up to date?
This piece of land has been settled since before there was written history, because of the trade importance this strip of land represents. In order to get from Europe to Asia you either have to cross the Bosphorus (a straight connecting the Black Sea with Marmara Sea) here, travel all the way around the Black Sea (missing the Middle East markets), or sail on the Mediterranean Sea. Plus, it controls the only inlet to the Black Sea.
Due to this importance the Greeks established a colony here in 657 BC and named it Byzantium. By 330 AD the Roman Emperor Constantine I turned it into an imperial residence inspired by Rome itself which was called Constantinople. More or less both of these cities were situated on the European side between the Marmara Sea and the Golden Horn, which is a large natural harbor off the Bosphorus. This location was ideal and the city was heavily fortified, but that did not stop empire after empire after empire from capturing it.
This continual influx of new ethnicity is what makes up the Turkey of today and it seems like they embrace all aspects of their history from Greek and Roman paganism to Roman and Crusaders Christianity to the Ottomans Muslim which is what the majority of the population is today. The current Turkish Republic was established in 1923 when Mustafa Kemal Atatürk separated the government from religion.
With this separation, great location, and united melting pot Istanbul has become the largest city in Europe (I have to admit I would not have guessed that before I visited) and truly mixes European society with the Middle East. Most Turks in Istanbul are wearing European style clothes, but you will find some that do wear head scarfs. The food is a mixture as well since some seemed inspired by Greece and others by the Middle East (of course it could be that
Turkey inspired the others 😉 ). The city felt like any other European city steeped in history, except there were reminders you were on the edge of the Middle East with the call to prayers from the mosques, the head scarfs on some ladies, some of the food, and of course with the Arab tourist.
I had a wonderful time in this city and look forward to sharing my experiences with you over the next two weeks, so come back every day and see what I have for you from the city that bridges the west and the east.
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