Raderstorf World Wide Adventure

Friday, April 08, 2005

Istanbul, World's Coolest City - by Ben

Istanbul has to be one of the coolest cities on the planet. It certainly is the only one that spans two continents. The history here is unmatched anywhere in the world. We stayed in a hotel directly across the street from Aya Sofya. Originally a catholic church, Aya Sofya was built by the Romans in the 6th century A.D. The entire reason for its construction was the emperor wanted to build the largest building in the world. When the Byzantine Empire fell, it was converted to a mosque. Now it serves as a museum, and is still the fourth largest religious building in the world.

Another of Istanbul’s amazing sites is the massive, underground Basilica Cistern. It was built in 532 by Emperor Justinian to hold water in case the city fell under siege. The floor area is almost 10,000 square meters. The vaulted ceiling is supported by 336 columns. When full, it could store 80,000 cubic meters of water.

We also visited the Blue Mosque (built to rival Aya Sofya), the Grand Bazaar, and the Tokapi Palace, home of the Sultans. We also took a cruse up the Bosphorus, the straight separating Asia from Europe. It was cool to get on the boat in one continent and get off in another. It seems that Istanbul’s main industry is carpets. Everyone we met ether sold carpets or wanted us to buy one from their brother’s shop. The very first day we were ambushed and had no choice but to purchase three of them, even though we didn’t want them. Not only is Istanbul geographically where Europe and Asia meet, but culturally as well. It is the perfect balance between West and East, I guess that’s why we all liked it so much.

To see the Pics : http://www.flickr.com/photos/raderstorfwwa/sets/241975/

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