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The Center of Western Civilization; Constantinople / Istanbul

The Western end of the Bosporus Straits; Istanbul, Turkey Copyright 2103  Andy Richards

The Western end of the Bosporus Straits; Istanbul, Turkey
Copyright 2103 Andy Richards

Originally a part of the Byzantine Empire, Byzantium, then Constantinople (so named, after the great Roman Emperor, Constantine) and finally, Istanbul, following its fall to the Ottoman Turk Empire, the city is widely thought of as the original “center” of civilization. Though not the capital city of Turkey today, it served as the capital of all three of these historic empires in its time.

Colorful Stairs lead uphill Istanbul, Turkey Copyright 2013  Andy Richards

Colorful Stairs lead uphill
Istanbul, Turkey
Copyright 2013 Andy Richards

As such, it was (and is) the showcase for some of the world’s most famous – and impressive art and architecture. Our day in Istanbul was rivaled only by the stop in Athens, as a very full (and exhausting) itinerary.

Pottery in Shop Istanbul, Turkey Copyright 2013  Andy Richards

Pottery in Shop
Istanbul, Turkey
Copyright 2013 Andy Richards

Istanbul is the best known of only a handful of cities that span 2 continents

Istanbul is perhaps the best known on a very short list, example of a city that spans two different continents. Separated by the Bosporus Strait, to the North, Istanbul lies within Europe and to the South, Asia. For us, another “milestone” in life was that on this day, we were in Asia for the first and so far, only) time. Our cruise ship sailed into the Western mouth of the Strait of Bosporus in the early morning hours and docked on the European side. Our very cute, attentive and knowledgeable private guide, Gulay, met a group of 8 of us on shore, where we boarded our van and headed into the city. We immediately crossed the bridge and into the Asian Continent. Our itinerary for the day was ambitious: Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, The Blue Mosque, The Grand Bazaar, the underground Cistern, the Hippodrome, and various other stops, including a break for lunch in one of the downtown areas (near the Grand Bazaar).

Istanbul, Turkey Copyright  2013  Andy Richards

Istanbul, Turkey
Copyright 2013 Andy Richards

The city is much like the other large, Mediterranean cities we visited, but like all cities (and countries) each has its own “signature.” Istanbul is huge, and bustling, with lots of traffic and lots of people – everywhere. Indeed, the shear numbers of people make it very difficult to get a clear shot of any of the architecture. Shooting with people in the shot, I am learning, is an art itself. They move. They don’t stand where you want them to. My hat goes off to “street photographers.” Additionally, this day, the atmospherics were not conducive to good exposures. It was a hazy and gray day and I am disappointed in the image quality of many of my Istanbul shots. But they are what they are, and it is pretty likely, the only ones I will ever make there :-).

Istanbul, Turkey Copyright 2013  Andy Richards

Istanbul, Turkey
Copyright 2013 Andy Richards

I was drawn to the various storefronts in the city. Some were very colorful, and others, almost a pastel—but nonetheless attractive and photogenic. There is a lot of fresh fish and produce sold on the streets in Europe and Istanbul was no exception. One of the things Turkey is known for is its very unique and special “Turkish Coffee.” I tried some at our lunch and it was pretty good. I like my coffee strong and this was almost muddy. But as big a thing as Turkish Coffee might be in Istanbul, in all of the European cities we visited, we were never far from the ubiquitous Starbucks :-).

Starbucks;  Istanbul, Turkey Copyright 2013  Andy Richards

Starbucks; Istanbul, Turkey
Copyright 2013 Andy Richards

Istanbul is a city that has a fair amount of elevation as its streets rise above sea level. I had planned to take a shot of the stairways up from the street we started on at sea level upon our return to the ship. However, we were very late getting back to the ship because of terrible traffic, and so the best I can offer is the slightly out of focus image here, taken though the closed window of our moving vehicle.

(Next Week:  Topkapi Palace)

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One Response

  1. Yeah. Street photography isn’t easy.:) There’s a reason that I try to work close and engage my subjects.

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