capitol of multiple empires, the city that is now Istanbul
is truly one of the world's great ancient cities. The area around
the Bosphorus has been inhabited for at least 3,000 years and evidence
suggests habitation going back nearly 10,000 years. Legend states
that the current city was founded in the 7th century BC, when a
Greek king named Byzas consulted the Oracle of Delphi on where to
establish a new city. The oracle told him to found a city "opposite
the blind". Byzas sailed to the mouth of the Bosphorus, only
three kilometers away (and on the opposite shore) from the existing
town of Chalcedon. He decided that the oracle's cryptic words meant
that the founders of Chalcedon were blind for having missed this
superior location. Since city founders are rarely modest, he named
his new settlement Byzantium, after himself. The area later came
under Roman rule as that empire expanded. By the time the Roman
emperor Constantine made it his capitol in 306 AD, the city - now
known as Constantinople - was already 1,000 years old. As the Western
Roman empire faltered, the eastern capitol of Constantinople became
one of the world's great cities.
the 5th century, the western empire had been overrun by barbarians
and essentially faded away but Constantinople, - now Europe's largest
city - would last another 1,000 years. Though the city would suffer
occasional setbacks, the walled fortifications built by the emperor
Theodosius during that period would not be brought down till the
advent of heavy artillery. On May 29, 1453 (after eight weeks of
siege) Constantinople fell to Mehmed II "the Conqueror".
The last of the Roman emperors, Constantine XI was killed during
the siege. Thus began the life of Istanbul as the capitol of the
Ottoman empire. Istanbul itself would also be an exceedingly powerful
city right up until the empire's ill-advised allegiance with the
Austro-Hungarian Empire during WW I. Interestingly, the name of
the city would not be officially changed to Istanbul for almost
500 years though it had been known by that name since its fall to
the Turks. The name was not officially changed until 1930. By this
time the Ottoman empire had fallen and the president, Mustafa Kemal
Atatürk, (a name you will become intimately familiar with should
you ever visit) had moved the capitol of a new Turkish republic
to the city of Ankara.
city with far too much history to cover here, Istanbul is a place
I had wanted to visit for many years. When the opportunity came
to visit Turkey for a month-long study abroad presented itself,
I had no choice but to go. I only spend about a week here but it
did not disappoint. I fully plan to return.
city founded during the Mycenaean era, Ephesus
was built on what was probably the ruins of the ancient Hitite city
of Apasa around 1,000 BC. In myth the city was founded by an Athenian
prince who was forced to flee Athens after the death of his father.
It was one of many cities who's location was supposedly prophesied
by the Oracle of Delphi. Ephesus was the location of the Temple
of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the world. The temple would
be burned to the ground in 356 BC by a lunatic named Herostratus.
city came under Roman rule in the 2nd century BC and became a major
Roman port city and regional capitol. It is said that Anthony and
Cleopatra walked the streets of Ephesus. For centuries it was one
of the most important cities of the Byzantine empire, second only
to Constantinople. It was also a major center of early Christianity
and the apostle Paul taught here. Over time however, the harbor
silted up and the city lost importance. By the time the Seljuk Turks
conquered Ephesus in 1090, it was not much more than a village.
Today it actually lies about a mile from the ocean and is in ruins.
The ruins are remarkably well preserved however, and the city is
real treat for anyone who enjoys ancient history and/or architecture.
ancient Greek city of Halicarnassus (now known as Bodrum)
is located on the southern coast of the Bodrum Peninsula. Founded
in the 7th century BC, Halicarnassus was overrun by the Persians
in 546 BC eventually becoming a semiautonomous part of the Persian
empire. King Mausolus ruled here from 404 BC to 358 BC. Upon his
death, his widow/sister (not an uncommon arrangement at the time)
had the Greek architects Satyros and Pythis construct a magnificent
tomb. One of the seven wonders of the world - the tomb of Mausolus
is the original "mausoleum".
city fell to Alexander in 334 BC and never quite recaptured its
former status. Warships were built here under the rule of the Egyptian
Pharaoh Ptolemy II in the 3rd century BC. In 1402, the knights St.
John built a castle here and presided over the area until the Ottomans
took it in 1522. The city took on the name Petronium (derived from
Peter) from which the name Bodrum was later derived.
days, bodrum is a tourist mecca - sort of a Cancun for British and
German tourists. Its great beaches, Mediterranean climate and proximity
to wealthier parts of Europe have made it very attractive. Much
of the oceanfront property is private and not accessible to locals.
The Bodrum Peninsula is also home to several municipalities besides
Bodrum: Turgutreis, Ortakent, Türkbükü, Yalikavak,
Gümüslük, Bitez, Konacik, Mumcular and Yali (a merger
of Çiftlik & kizilagaç). I was here for about
three weeks. The Yali municipality had just been formed and the
powers that be were very interested in developing tourism, but did
not want to become another Bodrum. We completed an urban planning
studio to help develop responsible tourism for the Yali municipality.
This was a working project that was actually presented to the city
council at a public meeting. Whether they adopted any of our suggestions,
I do not know. What was certain however, is that they truly appreciated
our presence and our input. I can honestly say that it was a cathartic
experience in my life.