Reliving Constantinople: Touring Istanbul

Much of a place’s past is written in books. However aside from books, there are also other ways of knowing about the history of a place and that is by looking at the ancient structures and remains. In Istanbul, much of these things are still there, telling their stories to all people who visit the city and them.

Istanbul: The City of Palaces

With the number of palaces in Istanbul, it may be safe to say that Istanbul is indeed a city of Palaces. For one, there is the Tekfur Palace, which accordingly dates back to the Byzantine era. This Palace may seem like rubbles and ruins, but traces of Byzantine architecture can still be seen in the wall tiles and even the arcs and columns still standing today. There is also the Beylerbeyi Palace, situated in the Anatolian Side of the area. It is a magnificent structure that is pretty much a mix of Turkish Motifs and Western ornament style on the interiors. This palace is well preserved and taken-cared of, as its age, which is over 100 years old, is barely visible when you look at it. Arguably one of the most beautiful palaces in the city and the whole world is the Dolmabahce Palace, which was constructed sometime in the middle of the 1800s. There are the ornate carvings and delicate designs in the walls and facades, and graceful arcs that lavish the entrances. The whole palace becomes dramatically beautiful as lamps shine on them when the dark settles.

Ancient Monuments

Since Istanbul is one of the oldest cities in the world, it is but natural that you will find various antiques around the town, like old statues and monuments. One of the most famous is the Monument of Republic, a towering sculpture depicting the foundation story of the Turkish republic including the War of Independence. The sculpture by the way was created in the late 1920s. Another famous landmark is the over 25 metre tall obelisk – authentic and genuine, transported from Egypt in the 4th century AD. There are other pillars and structures which are just as old, like the Snake Pillar (brought from Greece by Constantine) and the Milyonbar where three hundred thousand stones were braided together in an iron pillar.

Castles and Fortresses

There are also several castles and fortresses that can be found in Istanbul. First is the Anadoluhisari or the Anatolian Fortress, which was built in the 14th century and is presently an open air museum. The construction took place on the grounds where a Byzantine Temple dedicated to Zeus once stood. This fortress by the way is located in the Asian shores of Istanbul. On the other hand, its counterpart, the Rumelihisari, stands in the European shores, and was built a little over 50 years after the Anadoluhisari in preparation for the final attack on Constantinople. There is also the Yedikule Hisari or the Seven Towers Dungeons. Originally, this was built as a safe for the sultan’s treasures, but was later turned into dungeons to serve as the prison cells and sometimes execution grounds. Presently, the fortress is now an open air museum where you can watch concerts during summer.

Istanbul has always been one of the most famous places in then and now. Fortunately, much of the structures that bore witness to the great empire still stand today for us to enjoy. Of course, as you are galavanting throughout the history of this magnificent city, you’ll want to keep in touch with your friends back home. Make sure you both download the Talkzilla app to keep in touch. It’s a great new app I found with the cheapest international calling rates around, a must-use for a long trip through Turkey.

Photo by bispham2 on Flickr