Turkey is probably one of my favorite destinations ever. I spent a month here for an urban planning studio while in graduate school. We spent a week in Istanbul and the rest of the time in Bodrum. What a marvelous experience.

City Views Hotel Legend Blue Mosque Hagia Sophia The Grand Bazaar Spice Market Yeni Cammi
Topkopi Palace
Museum of Turkish Art
Hurrem Sultan Hamami
Sulleymaniye Taksim Aqueduct of Valens Theodosian Wall
Cistern The Bosphorus The Golden Horn Semsi Pasa Cami The Hippodrome    

The 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.

By 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.

A beautiful 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.

The Brothel Celcus Library Curetes Way Fountain of Trajan Gate of Agustus Great Theater

Hadrian's Gate & Temple

Harbor Way & Lower Agora
Men's Toilets
Museum of Memmius
The Odeon Terraced Houses Upper Agora More from Ephesus

A Greek 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.

The 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.

The Bodrum Peninsula
Bodrum Aktur/Bitez St. Peters Underwater Museum Gümüslük
Ortakent Turgutreis
The Peninsula
kizilagaç Yali Sea Garden Club Med
Studio Studio Project Blue Voyage        

The 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".

The 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.

Now 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.

All photos on this page are originals by & copyrighted by Daren Willden, unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved.