Monday, June 19, 2006

TURKEY - Istanbul / Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar (Kapalıçarşı in Turkish) in Istanbul (at 41°0′38.09″N, 28°58′4.56″E) is one of the largest covered markets in the world with more than 58 streets and 4000 shops in it, and has 250,000-400,000 visitors daily. It is well-known for its jewelry, pottery, spice and carpet shops. Many of the stalls in the bazaar are grouped by type of good, with regions for leather coats, gold jewelry and the like. The bazaar contains two bedestens, or domed masonry structures built for storage and safe keeping, the first of which was constructed in 1464 by the order of Mehmed II. In 1894, it underwent major restoration after an earthquake.

TURKEY - Istanbul / Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia (Church of Holy Wisdom), now known as the Ayasofya Museum, is a former Eastern Orthodox church converted to a mosque in 1453, converted into a museum in 1935, in the Turkish city of Istanbul. It is universally acknowledged as one of the greatest buildings of the world and sometimes considered the Eighth Wonder of the World. Its conquest by the Ottomans at the fall of Constantinople is considered one of the great tragedies of Christendom by the Greek Orthodox faithful.
The name comes from the Greek name Αγία Σοφία, a contraction of "Ναός της Αγίας του Θεού Σοφίας" (Church of the Holy Wisdom of God). It is also known as Sancta Sophia in Latin and Ayasofya in Turkish

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TURKEY - Swissotel Bosphorus

Location : Istanbul - Besiktas
Telephone : +90 212 326 11 00
Fax : +90 212 326 11 22
E-mail :
Web :

* In city center within 65 acres of gardens.
* Adjacent to Dolmabahce Palace, the last residence of the Ottoman Sultans.
* Large variety of dining options incl Japanese, Swiss, Turkish and International
* Extensive Wellness facilities are free of charge
* Excellent Executive Floor Lounge and business facilities
* Total 497 rooms

TURKEY - Istanbul / Blue Mosque

The mosque was built between 1609 and 1616 by order of the Sultan Ahmed I, after whom it is named. He is buried in the mosque's precincts. It is located in the oldest part of Istanbul, in what was before 1453 the centre of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire. It is next to the site of the ancient Hippodrome, and a short distance from the great Christian Church of the Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia).
It is within walking distance of the Topkapi Palace, residence of the Ottoman Sultans until 1853 and only a short distance from the shore of the Bosphorus. Seen from the sea, its domes and minarets dominate the skyline of the old part of the city, as was its builders' intention.
The mosque was deliberately sited to face Hagia Sophia, to demonstrate that Ottoman and Islamic architects and builders could rival anything their Christian predecessors had created. The two buildings thus comprise a unique historical and architectural precinct.
Today Hagia Sophia is a museum, but the Mosque of Sultan Ahmed is still a place of Islamic worship. Visitors are expected to dress modestly and women to cover their heads. (As is the case in most Istanbul mosques, visitors can for a nominal fee rent cloth wraps at the entrance to cover their heads or bare limbs.) Shoes must be removed before entering. Although admission is free, all visitors are asked to make a donation on leaving to support the maintenance of the mosque.
The mosque became known in the west as the Blue Mosque because of the predominantly blue colouring of paintwork of the interior. However this blue paint was not part of the mosque's original decor so it is being removed. Today the interior of the mosque does not strike the visitor as being particularly blue.
The architect of the Sultan Ahmed, Sedefhar Mehmet Aga, was given a mandate to spare no expense in creating the most magnificent and beautiful place of Islamic worship in the world. The basic structure of the mosque is almost a cube measuring 53 by 51 metres . As is the case with all mosques, the cube is aligned so that when worshippers perform the Salah (Islamic prayers), they are facing Makkah (Mecca), with the mihrab or prayer niche in front of them.

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Monday, June 12, 2006

TURKEY - Istanbul / Topkapi Palace

Topkapı Palace (Topkapı Sarayı in Turkish, literally the "Cannongate Palace" - named after a nearby gate), located in Istanbul (Constantinople), was the administrative center of the Ottoman Empire from 1465 to 1853. The construction of the Topkapi Palace was ordered by Sultan Mehmet II in 1459. It was completed in 1465. The palace is located on the Seraglio Point between the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara in Istanbul, having a splendid view of the Bosphorus. (41.00'43.09" N, 28.59'00.55"E) It consists of many smaller buildings built together and surrounded by four courts.
The First Court (or Alay Meydanı) spans over the entire Seraglio Point and is surrounded by high walls. The main gate is called Bab-ı Hümayun, simply the Imperial Gate. Apart from the Topkapı Palace, the First Court also contains the old imperial mint (constructed in 1727), the church of Hagia Eirene, the Archeology Museum (constructed during the 19th century) and various fountains (including the Fountain of the Executioner), pavilions (for example the Çinili Pavilion) and gardens (including the Gülhane Park, the old imperial rose garden). The huge Gate of Greeting (Babüsselam) leads into the palace and the Second Court (Divan Meydanı). This court is a park surrounded by the palace hospital, bakery, Janissary quarters, stables, the imperial Harem and Divan to the north and the kitchens to the south. Through the Gate of Felicity (Babüssaade) is the Third Court which is the heart of the palace, a lush garden surrounded by the Hall of the Privy Chamber (Has Oda) occupied by the palace officials, the treasury (which contains some of the wonderful treasures of the Ottoman age, which include the Sacred Trusts), the Harem and some pavilions, with the library of Ahmet III in the center. The Fourth Court was more of a private garden of the Sultan and consists of a number of pavilions, kiosks (köşk), gardens and terraces.
In 1853, Sultan Abdulmecit decided to move their residence to the newly built and modern Dolmabahçe Palace. Today the Topkapı serves as an museum for imperial era, and is one of Istanbul's greatest tourist attractions.
Comparing to its other contemporary royal residences like Schönbrunn Palace or the ultimately extravagant Versailles, Topkapı Palace distinguishes itself with its human proportions, sensible interiors and prudent layout, despite having housed once the rulers of one of mightiest empires of the world.
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ITALY - Pisa / The Leaning Tower of Pisa

The Leaning Tower of Pisa (Italian: Torre pendente di Pisa or simply La Torre di Pisa) is the campanile, or bell tower, of the cathedral of the Italian city of Pisa. It is situated behind the Cathedral and it is the third structure in Pisa's Campo dei Miracoli (field of Miracles).
The tower is famous for its noticeable lean. It was intended to stand vertically, to serve as a bell tower, but began leaning soon after construction started in 1173.
The height of the tower is 55.86 m (183.27 ft) from the ground on the lowest side and 56.70 m (186.02 ft) on the highest side. The width of the walls at the base is 4.09 m (13.42 ft) and at the top 2.48 m (8.14 ft). Its weight is estimated at 14,500 tonnes. The tower has 294 steps.

TURKEY - Istanbul / Yerebatan Palace

The Basilica Cistern, also called the Yerebatan Sarayı or Yerebatan Sarnıcı, is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that still lie beneath the city of Istanbul, former Constantinople, Turkey, at 41°0′29.15″N, 28°58′40.11″E.
This cathedral-sized cistern is an underground chamber of 143 by 65 metres, capable of holding 80,000 cubic metres of water. The large space is broken up by a forest of 336 marble columns each 9 metres high. The bases of two of these columns reuse earlier blocks carved with the head of a Medusa.
The cistern, located in the historical peninsula of Istanbul, was built by the Greeks during the reign of emperor Justinianus in the 6th century, the age of glory of Eastern Rome, also called the Byzantine Empire. The cistern is surrounded by a firebrick wall with a thickness of 4 meters and coated with a special mortar for insulation against water. The cistern's water was provided from the Belgrade Woods—which lie 19km north of the city—via aqueducts built by the emperor Justinianus.
The cistern was used as a location for the James Bond film From Russia with Love.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

ITALY - Venice / The City

Venice, the "city of canals", is the capital of the region of Veneto and of the province of Venice in Italy. Its population is 271,663 (census estimate January 1, 2004). The city is included, with Padua (Padova), in the Padua-Venice Metropolitan Area, population 1,600,000. The city stretches across numerous small islands in the marshy Venetian Lagoon along the Adriatic Sea in northeast Italy. The saltwater lagoon stretches along the shoreline between the mouths of the Po (south) and the Piave (north) Rivers.The population estimate of 272,000 inhabitants includes the population of the whole Comune of Venezia; the historic city of Venice (Centro storico) inhabitants are around 62,000, while approximately 176,000 people live in Terraferma (literal dry land, it means the extra-lagoon areas) and 31,000 live in other islands of the lagoon.
The Venetian Republic was a major sea power and a staging area for the Crusades, as well as a very important center of commerce (especially the spice trade) and art in the Renaissance.

ITALY - Rome / Vatican City

Vatican City Coordinates: 41°54′10″N, 12°27′9″E — formally State of the Vatican City, or Vatican City State (Italian: Stato della Città del Vaticano, Latin: Status Civitatis Vaticanae) — is a tiny sovereign state whose territory consists of a landlocked enclave within the city of Rome, Italy. The entire state is about 44 Hectares (108.7 acres) and thus is a European microstate. It is the smallest independent nation in the world. Since it is governed by the Bishop of Rome (the Pope), its government can be described as ecclesiastical and the highest state functionaries are in fact clergymen. It is the sovereign territory of the Holy See (Latin:Sancta Sedes) and the location of the Apostolic Palace—the Pope's official residence—and the Roman Curia. Thus, although the principal ecclesiastical seat of the Holy See (Basilica of St. John Lateran) is located in Rome itself, the Vatican City can be said to be the governmental capital of the Catholic Church of both East and West

ITALY - Rome / Colosseum

The Colosseum or Coliseum, originally known as the Flavian Amphitheatre (Latin: Amphitheatrum Flavium), is the largest amphitheatre built in the Roman empire. Originally capable of seating 50,000 spectators, it was once used for gladiatorial combat. It was built in the 70s AD.
Construction of the Colosseum began under the rule of Emperor Vespasian in AD 72. It was completed by his son, Titus, in 80, with later improvements by Domitian. It was built at the site of Nero's lake below his extensive palace, the Domus Aurea, which had been built covering the slope of the Palatine after the great fire of Rome in 64. Dio Cassius recounts that 10,000 wild animals were killed in the one hundred days of celebration which inaugurated the amphitheatre opening.
The Colosseum was in continuous use until 217, when it was damaged by fire after a lightning strike. It was restored in 238 and gladiatorial games continued until Christianity gradually put an end to those parts of them which included the death of humans. The building was used for various purposes, mostly venationes, until 524. Two earthquakes (in 442 and 508) caused massive damage to the structure.

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Saturday, June 10, 2006

FRANCE - Paris / Notre Dame

Notre Dame de Paris was one of the first gothic cathedrals, and was built throughout the Gothic period. Its sculptures and stained glass show the heavy influence of naturalism, giving them a more secular look that was lacking from earlier Romanesque designs.
Notre Dame de Paris was among the first buildings in the world to use the flying buttress. The building was not originally designed to include the flying buttresses around the choir and nave. However, after the construction began and the thinner walls (popularized in the Gothic) grew ever higher, stress fractures began to occur as the walls pushed outward. The buttresses were added to prevent further deterioration. For many years, the buttresses were reviled as it was said they looked "like scaffolding" someone had forgotten to remove and gave the cathedral an "unfinished" look.

FRANCE - Paris / The Grand Arch

The Grande Arche de la Fraternité is a monument in the business district of La Défense to the west of Paris. It is usually known as the Arche de la Défense or simply as La Grande Arche.
An international design competition was launched at the initiative of French president François Mitterrand. Danish architect Johann Otto von Spreckelsen (1929-1987) designed the winning entry to be a 20th century version of the Arc de Triomphe: a monument to humanity and humanitarian ideals rather than military victories. The construction was begun in 1982. After Spreckelsen's death in 1987, his associate, French architect Paul Andreu, completed the work in 1989/90.

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FRANCE - Paris / The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower stands 300 m (986 ft) high, which is about 75 stories. Including the 24-m (72-ft) antenna, the structure is 324 m (1058 ft) high which is about 81 stories. At the time of its construction in 1889, the tower was the tallest structure in the world, a title it retained until 1930, when New York City's Chrysler Building (319 m/1046 ft tall) was completed (although the tower was still taller if the respective spires of the two structures were excluded). The tower is the second-highest structure in France, after the 350-m Allouis longwave transmitter, built in 1939. It is the highest structure by far in Paris; the second-highest structure in Paris, and the fourth-highest in France, is the Tour Montparnasse (Montparnasse Tower), at 209 m. It is also famous among architects for being one of the few tall structures in the world that is perfectly vertical.
The structure was built between 1887 and 1889 as the entrance arch for the Exposition Universelle, a World's Fair marking the centennial celebration of the French Revolution. Three hundred workers joined together 18,038 pieces of puddled iron (a very pure form of structural iron), using two and a half million rivets, in a structural design by Maurice Koechlin. The risk of accident was great, for unlike modern skyscrapers the tower is an open frame without any intermediate floors except the two platforms. Yet because Eiffel took good care of his workers with movable stagings, guard-rails and screens, only one man died, during the installation of Otis Elevator's lifts.
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Video of Turkey #2



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Friday, June 09, 2006

Video of Istanbul #1


Video of Turkey #3


Video of Istanbul #2


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Tuesday, June 06, 2006


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