Yıldız Park and Çırağan Palace

Istanbul has the largest population of calico cats I've ever seen.
Istanbul has the largest population of calico cats I’ve ever seen.

I’m enjoying the lovely fall weather and getting lots of exercise. This week I logged several miles visiting some sites. The Yıldız Park and Çırağan Palaces are lovely and right on the water. They are located in the Beşiktaş district of Istanbul, home of one of the most important football teams of the city.

The Çırağan Palace is now a hotel, so I couldn't go in to see it. Behind the guard, is the Bosphorus.
The Çırağan Palace is now a hotel, so I couldn’t go in to see it. Behind the guard, is the Bosphorus.
The old Çırağan Palace is located right on the water. It is the last that was built and is smaller than most. It was built between 1863 and 1867
The old Çırağan Palace is located right on the water. It is the last that was built and is smaller than most. It was built between 1863 and 1867.
In 1989, the ruined palace was bought by a Japanese corporation, which restored the palace and added a modern hotel complex next to it in its garden. Today, it serves as luxury suites for the five-star Kempinski hotel along with two restaurants that cater to guests. The Palace was renovated again during the first quarter of 2007, now resembling the authentic palace with the baroque style and soft colors.
In 1989, the ruined palace was bought by a Japanese corporation, which restored the palace and added a modern hotel complex next to it in its garden. Today, it serves as luxury suites for the five-star Kempinski hotel along with two restaurants that cater to guests.
The Palace was renovated again during the first quarter of 2007, now resembling the authentic palace with the baroque style and soft colors.
Another grand entrance gate. The palace was an unlucky place. According to Wikipedia: The construction and the interior decoration of the palace continued until 1872. Sultan Abdülâziz did not live long in his magnificent palace - he was found dead inside on May 30, 1876, shortly after he was dethroned. His successor, his nephew Sultan Murad V, moved into Çırağan Palace, but reigned for only 93 days. He was deposed by his brother Abdülhamid II due to alleged mental illness and lived there under house arrest until his death on August 29, 1904.
Another grand entrance gate. The palace was an unlucky place. According to Wikipedia: The construction and the interior decoration of the palace continued until 1872. Sultan Abdülâziz did not live long in his magnificent palace – he was found dead inside on May 30, 1876, shortly after he was dethroned. His successor, his nephew Sultan Murad V, moved into Çırağan Palace, but reigned for only 93 days. He was deposed by his brother Abdülhamid II due to alleged mental illness and lived there under house arrest until his death on August 29, 1904.
One of the old gates into the Çırağan Palace.
One of the old gates into the Çırağan Palace.
The Sultan’s Suite, billed at US$15,332 per night, is ranked number 14 on World's 15 most expensive hotel suites compiled by CNN Go in 2012.
The Sultan’s Suite, billed at US$15,332 per night, is ranked number 14 on World’s 15 most expensive hotel suites compiled by CNN Go in 2012.
A beautiful marble bridge connects the Çırağan Palace on the Bosphorus to the Yıldız Palace on the hill behind and now located in a park. A very high garden wall protects the palace from the outer world.
A beautiful marble bridge connects the Çırağan Palace on the Bosphorus to the Yıldız Palace on the hill behind and now located in a park. A very high garden wall protects the palace from the outer world.
It is one of the largest public parks in Istanbul. Yıldız Park is a steep hillside, so it is roughly terraced and the lower retaining wall is as street level, near the Bosphorus. The photos on the retaining wall depict the life of Ataturk.
It is one of the largest public parks in Istanbul. Yıldız Park is a steep hillside, so it is roughly terraced and the lower retaining wall is at street level, near the Bosphorus. The photos on the retaining wall depict the life of Ataturk.
The park is very steep, but the views are awesome.
The park is very steep, but the views are awesome.
Always construction!
Always construction!
According to Wikipedia: Yıldız Park was once part of the imperial garden of Yıldız Palace. Extending down the slopes from the palace, this walled park was reserved only for palace dwellers during the reign of Sultan Abdulhamid II. The area of Yıldız used to be a forest in Byzantine times. Starting during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent, the sultans made it their hunting grounds. In the next centuries, it remained as a grove behind the seaside palaces. The neighbourhood began to flourish in the wake of construction of the palace in the 19th century. It took its name from the first pavilion, namely Yıldız Kasrı, commissioned by Selim III in early 19th century. The 25-acre (0.10 km2) of the palace's external garden were surrounded by high walls and detached from a grove during the reign of Abdulhamid II in the 19th century. A small artificial lake, pavilions, summer houses and a porcelain factory were established in this section.
According to Wikipedia: Yıldız Park was once part of the imperial garden of Yıldız Palace. Extending down the slopes from the palace, this walled park was reserved only for palace dwellers during the reign of Sultan Abdulhamid II.
The area of Yıldız used to be a forest in Byzantine times. Starting during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent, the sultans made it their hunting grounds. In the next centuries, it remained as a grove behind the seaside palaces. The neighbourhood began to flourish in the wake of construction of the palace in the 19th century. It took its name from the first pavilion, namely Yıldız Kasrı, commissioned by Selim III in early 19th century.
The 25-acre (0.10 km2) of the palace’s external garden were surrounded by high walls and detached from a grove during the reign of Abdulhamid II in the 19th century. A small artificial lake, pavilions, summer houses and a porcelain factory were established in this section.
Currently Yıldız Park is a garden complex with many flowers, plants and trees, gathered from every part of the world dating from the Ottoman era. Park grounds offer panoramic views of the Bosphorus. The park is a popular picnic place.. Two beautiful old pavilions,  Çadır and Malta pavilions, are operated as cafes.
Currently Yıldız Park is a garden complex with many flowers, plants and trees, gathered from every part of the world dating from the Ottoman era. Park grounds offer panoramic views of the Bosphorus. The park is a popular picnic place.. Two beautiful old pavilions, Çadır and Malta pavilions, are operated as cafes.
This is a neat idea, but the execution is kinda creepy.
This is a neat idea, but the execution is kinda creepy.

Yildiz Park, Istanbul, Nov 2015, 13 Yildiz Park, Istanbul, Nov 2015, 14 Yildiz Park, Istanbul, Nov 2015, 17

Çadır Pavilion
Çadır Pavilion

Yildiz Park, Istanbul, Nov 2015, 23

A WWII statue. The area is now frequented by skaters.
A WWII statue located near the Tramway station I took to get to the park. The area is now frequented by skaters.

Chora Church

Cora church, Istanbul, Nov 2015, 6I had been to this church in 2008 when I was on a tour of Turkey, but wanted to return for a closer look. Unfortunately, the extensive renovations meant that I really didn’t get to see much of the building, perhaps half. Still, the mosaics alone are incredible and the frescoes better than you would expect for the age. The reconstruction work may take years, so I may never see it complete.

Cora church, Istanbul, Nov 2015, 7According to Wikipedia: The Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora (Turkish: Kariye Müzesi, Kariye Camii, Kariye Kilisesi — the Chora Museum, Mosque, or Church) is a former Byzantine church, later Ottoman mosque, and current museum in the Edirnekapı neighborhood of Istanbul.[1] The neighborhood is situated in the western part of the municipality (belediye) of the Fatih district. In the 16th century, during the Ottoman era, the church was converted into a mosque, before becoming a museum in 1948. The interior of the building is covered with the original Byzantine-era mosaics and frescoes unearthed after its secularization.

My guidebook focuses on the mosaics that describe the life of Mary, but I remember our guide (the best tour guide I have ever met) telling us more about the life of Joseph, which I found fascinating at the time. Now, those mosaics are in an area that is off limits.

Cora church, Istanbul, Nov 2015, 10 Cora church, Istanbul, Nov 2015, 11 Cora church, Istanbul, Nov 2015, 14 Cora church, Istanbul, Nov 2015, 16

Across from the church entrance. Bache means garden.
Across from the church entrance. The sign roughly reads “Kiosk for family, Tea Garden restaurant and cafe.” See? My Turkish is improving!
This is the neighborhood beside the church. You can't get a good look at the church from the outside now because of scaffolding.
This is the neighborhood beside the church. You can’t get a good look at the church from the outside now because of scaffolding.
The church is built just inside the old city walls.
The church is built just inside the old city walls.
I got there on the metro.
I got there on the metro.
Even the art in the metro is nice.
Even the art in the metro is nice.
They really spend a lot of time on landscaping here. Public spaces are very beautiful.
They really spend a lot of time on landscaping here. Public spaces are very beautiful.

Istanbul Archaeology Museum, redux

English Time isn’t keeping me busy during the week, so I’m using the time to get some exercise and enjoy the amazing Fall weather. With my roommate, Monique, I returned for a visit to the Archaeology Museum last week. Just a few quick photos.

The museum, like most of Istanbul, has a family of cats. I love how they lounge among the ruins.
The museum, like most of Istanbul, has a family of cats. I love how they lounge among the ruins.
I think this must have been the base of a column. It would be easier with more English descriptions, but there's enough for an enjoyable and enlightening visit. The museum is still in major renovation mode. This is an older section, but some of the newer ones are completely translated.
I think this must have been the base of a column. It would be easier with more English descriptions, but there’s enough for an enjoyable and enlightening visit. The museum is still in major renovation mode. This is an older section, but some of the newer ones are completely translated.
All this just to house a dead body!  The word sarcophagus means "flesh-eating."
All this just to house a dead body! The word sarcophagus means “flesh-eating.”
OK, so it doesn't look like much, but this is all that remains of the three bronze heads that once protruded from a column on the hippodrome. According to Wikipedia: To raise the image of his new capital, Constantine and his successors, especially Theodosius the Great, brought works of art from all over the empire to adorn it. The monuments were set up in the middle of the Hippodrome, the spina. Among these was the Tripod of Plataea, now known as the Serpent Column, cast to celebrate the victory of the Greeks over the Persians during the Persian Wars in the 5th century BC. Constantine ordered the Tripod to be moved from the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, and set in middle of the Hippodrome. The top was adorned with a golden bowl supported by three serpent heads. The bowl was destroyed or stolen during the Fourth Crusade. The serpent heads were destroyed as late as the end of the 17th Century, as many Ottoman miniatures show they were intact in the early centuries following the Turkish conquest of the city. Parts of the heads were recovered and are displayed at the Istanbul Archaeology Museum. All that remains of the Delphi Tripod today is the base, known as the "Serpentine Column".
OK, so it doesn’t look like much, but this is all that remains of the three bronze heads that once protruded from a column on the hippodrome. According to Wikipedia: To raise the image of his new capital, Constantine and his successors, especially Theodosius the Great, brought works of art from all over the empire to adorn it. The monuments were set up in the middle of the Hippodrome, the spina. Among these was the Tripod of Plataea, now known as the Serpent Column, cast to celebrate the victory of the Greeks over the Persians during the Persian Wars in the 5th century BC. Constantine ordered the Tripod to be moved from the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, and set in middle of the Hippodrome. The top was adorned with a golden bowl supported by three serpent heads. The bowl was destroyed or stolen during the Fourth Crusade. The serpent heads were destroyed as late as the end of the 17th Century, as many Ottoman miniatures show they were intact in the early centuries following the Turkish conquest of the city. Parts of the heads were recovered and are displayed at the Istanbul Archaeology Museum. All that remains of the Delphi Tripod today is the base, known as the “Serpentine Column”.
You can read more here. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hippodrome_of_Constantinople  Also, I photographed the items remaining along the old hippodrome's spina, now part of Sultanahmet Meydani.
You can read more here.  Also, I photographed the items remaining along the old hippodrome’s spina, now part of Sultanahmet Meydani. http://wanderforlife.com/hippodrome-constantinople/

archeology muse, Istanbul, Nov 2015, 10

My new museum pass means that I can visit many museums for free.

The House of Flowers, Belgrade

Our guide, Srdgan Ristic and Kathy hamming it up for the camera beneath a larger than life statue of Tito. Speaking of ham, I had pork for almost every meal in Belgrade. Oh bacon, I've missed you sooooo.....
Our guide, Srdgan Ristic and Kathy hamming it up for the camera beneath a larger than life statue of Tito. Speaking of ham, I had pork for almost every meal in Belgrade. Oh bacon, I’ve missed you sooooo…..

11/7/2015
Today, another post about Belgrade, which I visited last month. I met my dear friend, Kathy, there and she arranged for an all day tour of this wonderful city with guide Srdjan Ristic, owner of Explore Belgrade! One of the many sites he took us to was the House of Flowers, the mausoleum of Josip Broz, better known as Tito. He was the former head of Yugoslavia and can probably be best described as a benevolent dictator.

Entrance to the House of Flowers https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Flowers_%28mausoleum%29
Entrance to the House of Flowers
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Flowers_%28mausoleum%29
I no longer take English signage for granted.
I no longer take English signage for granted.
These were gifts to Tito, used in symbolic relay races. They are on display at the House of Flowers. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relay_of_Youth
These were gifts to Tito, used in symbolic relay races. They are on display at the House of Flowers.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relay_of_Youth
Here's one of his suits. He was surprisingly short.
Here’s one of his uniform. He was surprisingly short.
Tito's mausoleum is set in the middle of the house of flowers, below the skylight.
Tito’s mausoleum is set in the middle of the house of flowers, below the skylight.

Of course Yugoslavia is long gone, now broken into several countries–and the borders are still under dispute.

Later that evening, Kathy and I joined Mary Ann for a pasta dinner, something I've craved. Tasty food and good conversation make for a perfect evening.
Later that evening, Kathy and I joined Mary Ann for a pasta dinner, something I’ve craved. Tasty food and good conversation make for a perfect evening.
Our waitress did not let the language barrier get in the way--she brought us a chocolate mousse to share!
Our waitress did not let the language barrier get in the way–she brought us a chocolate mousse to share!
How can you resist this?
How can you resist this?

Belgrade, Church of Saint Sava

The outer structure of of the impressive white church is complete, but there is still much work to be done. It stands on a hill, in a Belgrade neighborhood. I felt honored to have such an amazing tour guide show me this work of art. Srdjan Ristic is the owner of Explore Belgrade and my dear friend Kathy had arranged for a private, all day tour with him. This was near the end of the tour and we felt like old friends by then.
The outer structure of the impressive white church is complete, but there is still much work to be done. It stands on a hill, in a Belgrade neighborhood. I felt honored to have such an amazing tour guide show me this work of art. Srdjan Ristic is the owner of Explore Belgrade and my dear friend Kathy had arranged for a private, all day tour with him. This was near the end of the tour and we felt like old friends by then.

11/6/2015
I’ve been battling illness for almost a week. I had a few drugs, which helped a lot, but ran out yesterday. Today I went to a pharmacy. Supplied with the correct Turkish words I asked for medicine for diarrhea and also something for a headache. I mimed the last part by holding my head, but the pharmacist repeated the words in English for me (I take it that my Turkish pronunciations were pretty bad). Then he whisked behind the counter to get the medications. While I was waiting, a woman who worked there asked, in broken English, to help me. She had seen me mime a headache. “Hair loss?” She says.

Wow. How sick do I look?

Seriously, I’m not in bad shape. It’s all new bugs and viruses when you travel and my immune system occasionally gets overwhelmed. This too shall pass. Pun intended, Michael.

I’m posting a few more photos of Belgrade, which I visited last month.
This is the Church of Saint Sava. According to Wikipedia:

In 1594, Serbs rose up against Ottoman rule in Banat, during the Long War (1591–1606) …….though the uprising was quickly suppressed. The rebels had, in the character of a holy war, carried war flags with the icon of Saint Sava. …. Ottoman Grand Vizier Sinan Pasha ordered that the sarcophagus and relics of Saint Sava located in the Mileševa monastery be brought by military convoy to Belgrade. ….The relics were publicly incinerated by the Ottomans on a pyre on the Vračar plateau, and the ashes scattered, on April 27, 1595.

The Serbs never forgot the humiliation. This amazing church now stands on that same plateau, dominating Belgrade’s cityscape, but it wasn’t an easy rise.

Srdgan was a very personable and funny guide, but he was very serious about the Church of Saint Sava. He was raised and continues to live in the neighborhood of the church. As a child, he played in the construction site, which was virtually abandoned at the time and full of trees and bushes. Now, though still under construction, it is one of the largest Orthodox churches in the world and ranks among the largest church buildings in the world.
Srdgan was a very personable and funny guide, but he was very serious about the Church of Saint Sava. He was raised and continues to live in the neighborhood of the church. As a child, he played in the construction site, which was virtually abandoned at the time and full of trees and bushes. Now, though still under construction, it is one of the largest Orthodox churches and ranks among the largest church buildings in the world.
Inside, is still mostly concrete, but it is permeated with the smell of incense. The church is dedicated to Saint Sava, the founder of the Serbian Orthodox Church. According to Wikipedia: "In 1895, three hundred years after the burning of Saint Sava's remains, the Society for the Construction of the Church of Saint Sava on Vračar was founded in Belgrade. Its goal was to build a cathedral on the place of the burning. A small church was built at the future place of the Cathedral, and it was later moved so the construction of the Cathedral could begin. In 1905, a public contest was launched to design the church; all five applications received were rejected as not being good enough. Soon, the breakout of the First Balkan War in 1912, and subsequent Second Balkan War and First World War stopped all activities on the construction of the church. After the war, in 1919, the Society was re-established. New appeals for designs were made in 1926; this time, it received 22 submissions. Though the first and third prize were not awarded, the second-place project, made by architect Aleksandar Deroko, was chosen for the building of the Cathedral."
Inside, is still mostly concrete, but it is permeated with the smell of incense. The church is dedicated to Saint Sava, the founder of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
According to Wikipedia: “In 1895, three hundred years after the burning of Saint Sava’s remains, the Society for the Construction of the Church of Saint Sava on Vračar was founded in Belgrade. Its goal was to build a cathedral on the place of the burning. A small church was built at the future place of the Cathedral, and it was later moved so the construction of the Cathedral could begin. In 1905, a public contest was launched to design the church; all five applications received were rejected as not being good enough. Soon, the breakout of the First Balkan War in 1912, and subsequent Second Balkan War and First World War stopped all activities on the construction of the church. After the war, in 1919, the Society was re-established. New appeals for designs were made in 1926; this time, it received 22 submissions. Though the first and third prize were not awarded, the second-place project, made by architect Aleksandar Deroko, was chosen for the building of the Cathedral.”

Forty years after the initial idea, construction of the church began on May 10, 1935, 340 years after the burning of Saint Sava’s remains. Construction was interrupted by WWII. The occupying German army used the unfinished church as a parking lot. The Red Army later did the same. The Society for Building of the Cathedral ceased to exist. But the idea did not die and finally in 1984 Branko Pešić was chosen as new architect.  He redesigned the church to use new materials and building techniques. Construction of the building began again on August 12, 1985. The walls were erected to full height of 40 meters. The greatest achievement was lifting of the 4,000 ton central dome. It was first built on the ground and lifted onto the walls, which took forty days.

The building of the church structure is being financed exclusively by donations. Seen here is a table selling candles. You can see huge sheets of plastic behind to protect the ornately carved marble. The carvings remind me of the Haiga Sophia. One of the men behind the table with his hands outstretched, seemed to know our guide. They exchanged looks and I suddenly saw the man nod his head to the side with a questioning look. Our guide smiled and nodded yes. We were let to a cordoned off stairway, The polished marble stairs down to the basement were intricate and lovely. I thought we were just being shown the stairs. I was surprised when we were allowed to descend!
The building of the church structure is being financed exclusively by donations. Seen here is a table selling candles. You can see huge sheets of plastic behind to protect the ornately carved marble. The carvings remind me of the Haiga Sophia.
One of the men behind the table with his hands outstretched, seemed to know our guide. They exchanged looks and I suddenly saw the man motion his head to the side with a questioning look. Our guide smiled and nodded yes. We were let to a cordoned off stairway. The polished marble stairs down to the basement were intricate and lovely. I thought we were just being shown the stairs. I was surprised when we were allowed to descend!
The photos can't do it justice. It was dark in the basement of Saint Sava, but everything is marble and gold. The chandeliers are huge. The final decorations are in progress--a kind of new type of fresco on the ceiling.
The photos can’t do it justice. It was dark in the basement of Saint Sava, but everything is marble and gold. The chandeliers are huge. The final decorations are in progress–a new type of fresco on the ceiling, plus gold leaf and a few mosaics.
Srdjan says he remembers, from his childhood, that there is an under-basement, perhaps a place for a crypt.
Srdjan says he remembers, from his childhood, that there is an under-basement, perhaps a place for a crypt.

Belgrade, St. Sava, Oct 2015, 14 Belgrade, St. Sava, Oct 2015, 15

There was scaffolding for the artists working on the ceiling. I thought of Michelangelo working on the Sistine Chapel ceiling.
There was scaffolding for the artists working on the ceiling. I thought of Michelangelo working on the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

Belgrade, St. Sava, Oct 2015, 17

You can see some of the strips hanging for the edges of the painting--part of the process in painting the ceiling. It's described as a new style of fresco.
You can see some of the strips hanging for the edges of the painting–part of the process in painting the ceiling. It’s described as a new style of fresco.