Indian Summer in Istanbul

IMG_065711/27/2015

I’ve had a lot of free time, so I’ve been walking a lot. Atakoy is the next neighborhood across the E5 and the flowers have been particularly lovely in the cool, but sunny weather. There’s a surprising number of roses (gul). It’s been my favorite weather so far. Yesterday, the rain moved in and it looks like more on the way. That will likely ruin the blooms, but I took a few photos to remember them by.IMG_0654 IMG_0649 IMG_0653

The Theodosian Walls

The 5th-century city walls built by Emperor Theodosius II stretch for 6.5 km (4 miles) from Istanbul's Golden Horn to the Sea of Marmara.  I initially thought this woman was foraging, but when I got closer I realized she had a garden. Most of the area in front of the walls seems to be produce!
The 5th-century city walls built by Emperor Theodosius II stretch for 6.5 km (4 miles) from Istanbul’s Golden Horn to the Sea of Marmara.
I initially thought this woman was foraging, but when I got closer I realized she had a garden. Most of the area in front of the walls seems to be produce!

4/4/2015

The tulips were in bloom!
The tulips were in bloom!

Today was Saturday, my only full day off, so I decided to spend a few hours walking in the bright sunshine of spring in Istanbul. My path? To follow the remains of the old city walls—known as the Theodosian Walls. They are one of the most impressive remains of the Byzantine past, and they held off invaders for more than 1,000 years! I walked from Topkapı Metro  (Pronounced: Top Kap Uh. That final letter isn’t an “I” it’s the vowel pronounced uh) south to the Marmara Sea. I walked around the sea park, investigated a few old city gates and cemeteries, and walked back. Probably 4 miles in all. I’ll sleep well tonight! I do a lot of walking here in Istanbul, so I’m glad I’m in fair shape.

Most of the walls are in pretty poor shape. I walked along side, but my guidebook was very clear that climbing the walls was unsafe in every way. There's the danger of falling and of being accosted by thieves. Many homeless and questionable characters hang out here.
Most of the walls are in pretty poor shape. I walked along side, but my guidebook was very clear that climbing the walls was unsafe in every way. There’s the danger of falling and of being accosted by thieves. Many homeless and questionable characters hang out here.

It was cool and breezy, but the sun shone all day—perfect walking weather. The tulips are in bloom and (my favorite) daffodils. It is spring in the city of cities!

Cats everywhere around the ruins--I see them all over the world.
Cats everywhere around the ruins–I see them all over the world.

With 11 fortified gates and 192 towers, this double walled enclosure sealed in the landward side of the old city of Constantinople. The length of the wall is about 4 miles (6km), so I saw approximately half of it today. It extends from the Sea of Marmara to the Golden Horn, enclosing an area of about 2.5 square miles. As with many important old Roman cities, the “walls” are actually three layers, each taller and thicker than the one before. A thick inner wall had 60 foot towers that gave a view of any approaching enemy, by land or sea. The outer wall was lower, 26 feet high, with additional towers, offset and between the inner wall towers, creating unblocked line of sight. Both walls were made of alternating limestone blocks and red tile brick. This arrangement is attractive and helped them to withstand earthquakes. Between the walls was a 50 foot terrace, used to move military troops easily. (in many cities, this area is where the bazaar is) A second terrace ended in a short crenelated defense wall. In front of it all was a moat (which may or may not have had water) which was 60 feet across and 20 feet deep. Even dry, the moat would have kept large artillery from coming too close.

The walls were built between AD 412-422 (dates vary), mostly during the reign of Emperor Theodosius II (408-50). At the time, they were half a mile outside the city’s original Walls of Constantine, extending the city’s protected area. Though the older Constantine Walls were still standing when the Theodosian Walls were built, nothing remains of them today. In 447 an earthquake destroyed 54 (some reports say 57) of the towers and much of the sea wall. The timing could not have been worse as Attila the Hun was already in the Balkans and on his way to take over the city. For 60 straight days and nights, the population labored to repair the walls.

This park is clearly dedicated to TULIPS. There is even a statue of two tulip bulbs. But, I preferred the daffodils at the far entrance.
This park is clearly dedicated to TULIPS. There is even a statue of two tulip bulbs. But, I preferred the daffodils at the far entrance.

Ultimately the city finally fell from sheer weight of numbers of the Ottoman forces in May 1453 after a six-week siege. According to Wikipedia, “The walls were largely maintained intact during most of the Ottoman period, until sections began to be dismantled in the 19th century, as the city outgrew its medieval boundaries. Despite the subsequent lack of maintenance, many parts of the walls survived and are still standing today. A large-scale restoration program has been under way since the 1980s.”     

Just inside this city gate is a mosque and cemetery (turbesi).
Just inside this city gate is a mosque and cemetery (turbesi).
The headstones look like turbans.
The headstones look like turbans.
A simple marble area to wash before entering the mosque. Of course, only the men can expose their feet to make the ritual ablutions before prayer. The women all crowd the bathrooms.
A simple marble area to wash before entering the mosque. Of course, only the men can expose their feet to make the ritual ablutions before prayer. The women all crowd the bathrooms.
My guidebook calls the neighborhood just inside the walls "working class." I think that's pretty diplomatic.
My guidebook calls the neighborhood just inside the walls “working class.” I think that’s pretty diplomatic.
The wall has several openings--formerly city gates. Most were narrow since they might be walled up in case of attack. I have no idea how the cars get through, though. This is two way traffic and there is only room for one car width. Visibility is nil through the wall. Eeek.
The wall has several openings–formerly city gates. Most were narrow since they might be walled up in case of attack. I have no idea how the cars get through, though. This is two way traffic and there is only room for one car width. Visibility is nil through the two layers of wall. Eeek.
This end of the wall is at the Sea of Marmara and is part of a park. It was a lovely day and lots of barges were on the water.
This end of the wall is at the Sea of Marmara and is part of a park. It was a lovely day and lots of barges were on the water.
It was lovely seeing families picnic along the Marble Tower, the end of the wall. This tower was once actually in the sea.
It was endearing to see families picnic along the Marble Tower, the end of the wall. This tower was once actually in the sea.
This tower is at the end of the wall, at the Sea or Marmara, now a park.
This tower is at the end of the wall, at the Sea or Marmara, now a park.

A rainy day in Gülhane Park, Istanbul

From a wall above the park you can see all the footpaths and landscaping. If you could see over the buildings on the right, you'd get a glimpse of the Bosphorus Strait. The tulips and other bulbs were just pushing through the pansies and the daffodils were ready to pop open.
From a wall above the park you can see the footpaths and landscaping. If you could see over the buildings on the right, you’d get a glimpse of the Bosphorus Strait. The tulips and other bulbs were just pushing through the pansies and the daffodils were ready to pop open.

Gülhane Park, or “Rosehouse Park,” is an historic urban park in the Eminönü district of Istanbul, Turkey. It used to be part of the Topkapı Palace. The south entrance of the park sports one of the larger gates of the palace. It is the oldest and one of the most expansive public parks in Istanbul. I found it a lovely, peaceful expanse of trees, flowers, benches and walkways–an escape from the busy, over-crowded city. I loved it, even if it drizzled the entire visit. It will be even more beautiful in April and May with flowers in bloom. It has it’s own tram stop (Tramvey).

Gulhane Park, Istanbul, March 2015, 2

This was such an unusual fountain. The water sprayed out and moved from right to left, like a turning page.
This was such an unusual fountain. The water sprayed out and moved from right to left, like a turning page.
The first statue of Atatürk in Turkey was erected in the park in 1926, sculpted by Heinrich Krippel.
The first statue of Atatürk in Turkey was erected in the park in 1926, sculpted by Heinrich Krippel.
I was looking for the Goth's column, but it turns out this isn't it. The park's Goths Column (Turkish: Gotlar Sütunu), dating from Roman times, commemorates a Roman victory over the Goths. I'm not sure what this is. Anyone? This (from the internet, so you know it's true. LOL) According to an article I read, this is "the ruins of what appears to be an early Byzantine structure, consisting of a series of small rooms fronted by a rather irregular colonnade. These ruins have never been thoroughly investigated and their date and identity have not been established."
I was looking for the Goth’s column, but it turns out this isn’t it. The park’s Goths Column (Turkish: Gotlar Sütunu), dating from Roman times, commemorates a Roman victory over the Goths. I’m not sure what this is. Anyone? (from the internet, so you know it’s true. LOL) According to an article I read, this is “the ruins of what appears to be an early Byzantine structure, consisting of a series of small rooms fronted by a rather irregular colonnade. These ruins have never been thoroughly investigated and their date and identity have not been established.”

 

No idea what this is, except adorable.
No idea what this is, except adorable.
This is one of the walls of the park, formerly of the medieval palace. Notice the lines of brick between the stone. This isn't just decorative. It allows the walls to move slightly in an earthquake. A ridged structure would likely break. Yes, I am a wealth of almost completely useless information!
This is one of the walls of the park, formerly of the medieval palace. Notice the lines of brick between the stone. This isn’t just decorative. It allows the walls to move slightly in an earthquake. A ridged structure would likely break. Yes, I am a wealth of almost completely useless information!
This is the most unusual fountain I've seen yet. There are many fountains throughout the city of various designs. Some dating back to Roman times. But, unlike the fountains you find in Italy, these are not for drinking. They are for washing before prayers. The tap water is not recommended for drinking unless it is at least boiled. So far, I've stuck to bottled water.
This is the most unusual fountain I’ve seen yet. There are many fountains throughout the city and they are of various designs. Some date back to Roman times. But, unlike the fountains you find in Italy, these are not for drinking. They are for washing before prayers. The tap water is not recommended for drinking unless it is at least boiled. That’s what happens when you have a city of 20 to 30 million people. So far, I’ve stuck to bottled water.
It's not quite spring--but this daffodil (my favorite flower) is set to bloom on the first warm day.
It’s not quite spring–but this daffodil (my favorite flower) is set to bloom on the first warm day.
Gülhane Park was once part of the outer garden of Topkapı Palace (the original Ottoman Palace) and mainly consisted of a grove. A section of the outer garden was planned as a park by the municipality and opened to the public in 1912. The Museum of The History of Science and Technology in Islam is located in the former stables of Topkapı Palace, on the western edge of the park. It was opened in May 2008. The museum features 140 replicas of inventions of the 8th to 16th centuries, from astronomy, geography, chemistry, surveying, optics, medicine, architecture, physics and warfare. I'll check that out someday.
Gülhane Park was once part of the outer garden of Topkapı Palace (the original Ottoman Palace) and mainly consisted of a grove. This park was planned opened to the public in 1912, though it’s gone through several renovations. The Museum of The History of Science and Technology in Islam is located in the former stables of Topkapı Palace, on the western edge of the park (those are the buildings you see in the distance). It was opened in May 2008. The museum features 140 replicas of inventions of the 8th to 16th centuries, from astronomy, geography, chemistry, surveying, optics, medicine, architecture, physics and warfare. I’ll check that out someday.

According to Wikipedia: “The namesake of the park, the Gülhane (“Rosehouse”) present on the grounds, was the place where the 1839 Edict of Gülhane (Turkish: Tanzimât Fermanı or Gülhane Hatt-ı Şerif-î) was proclaimed. The edict launched the Tanzimat reforms in the Ottoman Empire, which modernized the empire and included changes such as the equalization of all Ottoman citizens, regardless of religion, before the law. The proclamation was made by Grand Vizier Mustafa Reşid Pasha, a leading statesman, diplomat, and reformer in the Empire.”

This is why I hike

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When you reach the top sometimes this is what you get to see….

Sure it can be hard walking uphill with all your gear on your back. Yup, sometimes it rains. No, there won’t be a shower and the running water is a stream. But it’s so breathtaking. Here are a few photos from my trip last weekend along the Appalachian Trail.

 

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Just follow the white blazes…..
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Flame azaleas, one of the few native azaleas of the area.
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Wild rose
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Spiderwort
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My morning coffee—but the view was spectacular! (see the first photos at the top of the page)
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Millipede

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