When I was growing up I heard nothing about the beauty and wonders of Istanbul. I heard a lot about the wonders of Paris and Rome, but nothing positive about Istanbul. And I am a voracious reader of newspapers and magazines. Istanbul was the city of Midnight Express, a one-sided depiction of pure violence, and occasionally a political story would appear about a coup or a new government.
Imagine my surprise when I went to Istanbul to discover:
1. A museum that was the largest cathedral in Christendom for a thousand years, Hagia Sophia, which displays many of most important Byzantine artworks and mosaics ever created. This building influenced mosques everywhere and inspired millions. This is simply one the most important buildings in the world. Everyone should see this.
2. A palace, Topkapi, containinig Moses’ rod, original harem buildings, a treasury containing an 86-carat pear-shaped diamond, perhaps the most beautiful in the world, priceless art and artifacts and a view over the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn that thousands died for their masters to possess.
3. A Grand Bazaar and Spice Market, a vision of ages past, one of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world dating from early Ottoman times.
The list goes on too, the remains of a Roman Hippodrome, gigantic fortified Byzantine city walls and palaces, and mosques that are as beautiful as any in the world. The views everywhere in the city make Istanbul perhaps the most beautiful city in Europe and certainly one of the most beautiful in the world.
So why have all these treasures been ignored, and why do we rarely see mention of the beauty of Istanbul anywhere? Is it simply that many people just haven’t been there? I believe so. And I hope you enjoy Istanbul as much as I do if you go there.
Before you go though, one last treasure must be mentioned. The vast majority of Istanbulers are among the friendliest and kindest people in the world. Perhaps they are its greatest treasure.
To go to the 6th puzzle click here.