Monday, August 31, 2009

Whirling Dervishes


Harry and I had an agreement:

I would tour all day almost every day HIS historical sights if he took me to see the infamous Whirling Dervishes.

You see... I miss Atlanta with all its cultural opportunities. At one point we were season ticket holders to the Atlanta Opera, Atlanta Symphony, and the Atlanta Ballet. With occasional tickets to the Agatha Christie Dinner Theater, Shakespeare Festival, and the annual holiday trip to see the Nutcracker. Needless to say Harry was not as thrilled as I when these tickets were purchased. And typically he slept through parts of the event.

I will never forget the 3rd row tickets for The Tempest. We had before Mexican food before followed by one of Shakespeare’s Tempest. And the temptation for Harry to fall fast and hard asleep was too great. The worst part... was he kept waking himself up with a head jerk and a snort. I think he went away with bruises that night from me nudge/ kicking him awake when the snoring was louder than the eloqui. Arughhh.... Harry and culture tend to make for a long night.

So back to Turkey..... he agreed to take me to see the Dervishes.

The rituals of the Rumi's followers (Whirling Dervishes) are among the enduring as well as the most exquisite ceremonies of spirituality. The ritual whirling of the dervishes is an act of love and a drama of faith. It possesses a highly structured form within which the gentle turns become increasingly dynamic as the individual dervishes strive to achieve a state of trans.

They simple spin and spin round and round....

The story of the creation of this unique form of dhikr is that Rumi was walking through the town marketplace one day when he heard the rhythmic hammering of the goldbeaters. It is believed that Rumi heard the dhikr, "la elaha ella'llah" or in English, "no god, but God" in the apprentices beating of the gold and so entranced in happiness he stretched out both of his arms and started spinning in a circle. With that the practice of Sema and the dirvishes of the Mevlevi order were born.

The Sema ceremony (the spinning) represents a spiritual journey; the seeker's turning toward God and truth, a maturing through love, the transformation of self as a way of union with God, and the return to life as the servant of all creation.

The music that accompanies the whirling from beginning to end ranges from somber to rhapsodical; its effect is intended to be mesmerizing. Chanting of poetry, rhythmic rotation, and incessant music create a synthesis which, according to the faithful, induces a feeling of soaring, of ecstasy, of mystical flight.

As the dervishes spun round and round... it was like a little enchanting lullaby for Harry as he drifted off to Never-never Land.

And to be completely honest.... it kind-of made me dizzy!

A whirlwind of Blessings,


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Shopping paradise

Greetings from a state of elation,


And not just any shopping, but shopping in one of the most famous bazaar's in the world.

The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with more than 58 covered streets and over 1,200 shops which attract between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily.

And I thought Atlanta's Lenox Mall was busy!

Opened in 1461, it is well known for its jewelry, pottery, spice, and carpet shops.

The covered bazaar is crowded and bustling the whole day. Shop owners insistently invite the visitors to their shops.

In the large and comfortable shops at the entrance one can find examples of all the hand-made articles produced in Turkey. The handmade carpets and jewelry sold here are the finest examples of traditional Turkish art.

Bargaining is always possible. Before you purchase, it's recommended to ask more than 3-4 shops so that you can get the best price.

Spice Bazaar built 1664 is filled with the fragrance of the exotic East. The English call it the Spice Bazaar, but its actual name is Egyptian Bazaar because it was built with the money paid as duty or taxes on Egyptian imports.

The Spice Bazaar is Istanbul's 2nd largest market.

The smell is amazing. Walking through the alleyways causes sensory overload. Too much to see and smell. The market's location, between the East and Europe serve as a center point for spices from the Orient and Egypt.

Spices, dried fruits, nuts and seeds, lokum (Turkish Delight) and other edibles fill most of the shops.

And Turkish delight.

Candy as far as the eye can see. But I did not find any chocolate?

Outside the bazaar... we saw this guy standing in front of his eatery... and I just thought it was a classic picture. It just cracks me up... no clue why. It just does.

It is a good thing we brought extra empty suitcases.... much to Harry's chargrine... I needed them!

Blessings to those finding a good bargain,


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Two Continents in a Day


With our legs and feet aching from all the walking.... we enjoyed the afternoon cruising the Borphorus.

One minute we were in Europe.... the next minute we were on the opposite banks and in Asia.

We traveled from Asia to Europe. Europe to Asia. All afternoon bouncing between two continents. Not a lot of places you can do that in the world.... actually I think Istanbul is the only city in the world encompassing 2 Continents.

The view from the ferry of Istanbul is simply amazing. It looks like other cities... just with minarets soaring high in the air.... everywhere.

Crossing the bridge... Harry was here this time last year, but on the Mount Whitney.

Another Palace.... we have more pictures, but for later.

After touring Istanbul by its waterways.... and having a nice lunch complete with a lot of Turkish Apple Tea.... I went in search of the bathroom....

.....and this is what I found.

You would be surprised the amount of leg muscles required to pop-a-squat above this.... and the balance needed. Whew... there was no way to couple that with the rocking boat.

Needless to say..... I held it!

Blessings to those accurately marking their territory,


Friday, August 28, 2009

BLue Mosque


Even though its Ramadan... we ventured into Istanbul's most famous (is that correct grammar?) mosque.

The Sultan Ahmed Mosque or Blue Mosque (for the blue tiles adorning the inside walls) has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Istanbul.

The Sultan Ahmed Mosque is the national mosque of Turkey, and is a historical mosque in Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey and the capital of the Ottoman Empire (from 1453 to 1923).

The mosque was to be built on the site of the palace of the Byzantine emperors, facing the Hagia Sophia (at that time the most venerated mosque in Istanbul) and the hippodrome, a site of great symbolic significance.

One of the most notable features of the Blue Mosque is visible from far away: its six minarets. This is very unique, as most mosques have four, two or just one minaret. According to one account, the Sultan directed his architect to make gold (altin) minarets, which was misunderstood as six (alti) minarets.

Whatever the origins of the unique feature, the six minarets caused quite a scandal, as the Haram Mosque in Mecca (the holiest in the world) also had six minarets. In the end, the problem was solved by adding a seventh minaret to Mecca's mosque.

Until recently the muezzin or prayer-caller had to climb a narrow spiral staircase five times a day to announce the call to prayer. Today a public address system is used, and the call can be heard across the old part of the city, echoed by other mosques in the vicinity. Large crowds of both Turks and tourists gather at sunset in the park facing the mosque to hear the call to evening prayers, as the sun sets and the mosque is brilliantly illuminated by colored floodlights.

Before entering the mosque worshippers perform a cleansing ritual called Wudu. Wudu, the Partial Ablution:

Declare the intention that this act is for the purpose of worship and purity.

Wash the hands up to the wrist three times.

Rinse out the mouth with water three times.

Cleanse the nostrils of the nose by sniffing water into them three times.

Wash the whole face three times with both hands—from the top of the forehead to the bottom of the chin, from ear to ear.

Wash the right arm three times up to the top of the elbow, then wash the left arm.

Wipe the whole head from the forehead to the back of the neck one time with a wet hand.

With wet fingers, wipe the inner sides of the ears with the forefingers and their outer sides with the thumbs.

Wipe around the neck with wet hands.

Wipe the two feet up to the ankles, three times, beginning with the right foot. (If shoes and socks or stockings are on and and socks or stockings have been on since last performing the ablution, it is not four hours, the socks or stockings should be removed and the feet washed.)

It is not recommended to take photos of worshippers.... so I had Harry strategically stand so I could snap a shot just to the side of him.... so some of the pictures are not focused on exactly what I wanted, but we were doing it on the sly....

Tourists must enter through the north gate and remove their shoes at the entrance (plastic bags for shoes are provided). Modest dress is required for both men and women and women must cover their heads. Wraps are provided when deemed necessary by mosque officials.

This is the entrance for Muslim worshippers... not our entrance.

More than 200 stained glass windows with intricate designs admit natural light, today assisted by chandeliers. On the chandeliers, ostrich eggs are found that were meant to avoid cobwebs inside the mosque by repelling spiders.

Again, it is recommended as respect for the worshippers to "stay out of the way". So again the pictures are a little fuzzy... I did not want to get kicked out.

The Women's Sector.... is this teeny tiny walled off partition in the very back. You can see Harry's shoulder in this picture.... poor guy, I made him stand over here then sent him over there.... I just wanted what was in the background.... Harry was not a happy camper by the time we left.

It fascinates me how women live like this. Not to mention the heat...

We made it through the experience alive and without getting kicked out or arrested....

Blessings to those enjoying the scenery,


Hagia Sophia


It amazes me that 2 emblems of very different faiths sit directly across from each other.... and relatively safe. The Agia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. We started with the Christian side.

The “church of holy wisdom” is among the world’s greatest architectural achievements. The supreme church of Byzantium time period is over 1400 years old. It was the largest cathedral in the world for nearly a thousand years.

The Hagia Sophia had been a church for 916 years, a mosque for 481 years and since 1934, a museum.

The Hagia Sofia had its beginnings in a humble looking wooden roofed basilica way back in 390 A.D. The church was dedicated to Hagia Sophia or the Divine Wisdom. The church, then known as Megale Ecclesia or The Great Church, was burnt and reduced to rubble in 404 A.D.

At its site, Theodosius built an even bigger church. This building was again destroyed in the Nika Revolt of 532 A.D against Emperor Justinian. Under his orders, and supervised by architects Anthemius of Tralles and Isidorus of Miletus, the Hagia Sophia began to be rebuilt in that year itself. The Fourth Crusade of 1204 saw the plunder of the Hagia Sophia. The iconoclastic crusaders systematically eradicated all images with religious connotations from the Hagia Sophia.

1453 was a watershed year in the already battered history of Hagia Sophia. Sultan Mehmet, after winning over Constantinople, in the year 1453, ordered the Hagia Sophia to be turned into a mosque.

Minarets, from which the summon cries for the daily prayers are issued; the Mihrab, an alcove in the wall facing Mecca and the member, which is a platform for the rendering of sermons, were the typically Islamic additions to the Hagia Sophia.

Eight wooden plates bearing Islamic calligraphy are amongst other such add-ons.

In the 16th century the sultan brought back two colossal candles from his conquest of Hungary. They were placed on both sides of the mihrab.

Seriously.... that is a really big candle stick. I wonder if it comes in citronella?

During the Sack of Constantinople in 1204, the Latin Crusaders vandalized valuable items in every important Byzantine structure of the city, including the golden mosaics of the Hagia Sophia. Many of these items were shipped to Venice. Following the building's conversion into a mosque in 1453, many of its mosaics were covered with plaster, due to Islam's ban on representational imagery.

The Synodical Letter

"To the right honourable lords our right reverend brethren and colleagues, Damasus, Ambrosius, Britton, Valerianus, Ascholius, Anemius, Basilius and the rest of the holy bishops assembled in the great city of Rome, the holy synod of the orthodox bishops assembled at the great city of Constantinople sends greeting in the Lord."

The Synod of Constantinople (A.D. 382).... The marble door.... It was used by the participants in synods, they entered and left the meeting chamber through this door.. And Harry wanted his picture taken there, but people kept getting in the way.... we stood there forever trying to find the perfect shot.

Here is the marker for Henry Dandolo.... Remembered for his blindness, piety, longevity, and shrewdness, he is infamous for his role in the Fourth Crusade which he, at age ninety, directed against the Byzantine Empire, sacking Constantinople.

The Deësis mosaic. In this panel the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist, both shown in three-quarters profile, are imploring the intercession of Christ for humanity on Judgment Day. The bottom part of this mosaic is badly deteriorated.

The Comnenus mosaic. Mary is standing in the middle, depicted, as usual in Byzantine art, in a dark blue gown. She holds Christ on her lap. He gives His blessing with His right hand while holding a scroll in His left hand.

The Empress Zoe mosaics. Christ is seated in the middle against a golden background, giving His blessing with the right hand and holding the Bible in His left hand. On either side of His head are the monograms IC and XC, meaning Iēsous Khristos. He is flanked by Constantine IX Monomachus and Empress Zoe, both in ceremonial costumes. He is offering a purse, as symbol of the donation he made to the church, while she is holding a scroll, symbol of the donations she made

Virgin and Child mosaic. This mosaic is situated in a high location on the half dome of the apse. Mary is sitting on a throne without a back, holding the Child Jesus on her lap. Her feet rest on a pedestal. Both the pedestal and the throne are adorned with precious stones.

Mary sits on a throne without a back, her feet resting on a pedestal, embellished with precious stones. The Child Christ sits on her lap, giving His blessing and holding a scroll in His left hand. On her left side stands emperor Constantine in ceremonial attire, presenting a model of the city to Mary.

It's crazy to think all of these beautiful mosaics were covered over with plaster. I guess a mosque has no use for them?

Blessings to those admiring art and architecture,


blogger templates | Make Money Online