11.07.2010 85 °F
My first weekend a friend and I went for a walk along the Bosporus to Emirgan Park to see the tulips.
There were young girls wanting to practice their English.
The tulips are also in beds along the streets. This was my view as I caught the bus each morning.
A local man who is a teacher and interested in the Byzantine history of Istanbul organized a walk to see the few sites that are visible from that period. The Byzantine city walls remain, but Topkapi Palace was build on the site of Constantine's Palace and over the years most of the Byzantine structures are buried with modern construction on top. It was a nice introduction and we were able to see what many local businessmen have done to preserve the history that they have found as they expanded their buildings and found churches and cisterns in the basement! I was also introduced to a book Strolling through Istanbul, by author, John Freely which will be delightful to use in my walks.
Link for models of Byzantine buildings in 1200AD...
Pictures of the ruins of Constantine's Palace.
One of the men working in the office is in Turkey on assignment from Netherlands to be a project manager. He has a beautiful apartment with a terrace with wonderful views. In May, my friend Deronda and I spent an afternoon enjoying the sun and the view.
The International Music Festival is in June and they have many concerts in the Haghia Eirene (Holy Peace), one of the few Byzantine churches that was not converted to a mosque. It was originally build of wood on the ruins of a temple to Aphrodite and is thought to be the oldest site of Christian worship in Istanbul. The second Ecumenical Council was held here in 381. Fire and earthquakes caused several rebuildings. The current structure is from the 6th Century. Some unique features include the syntbromm, the five rows of built-in seats hugging the apse, which were occupied by clergymen officiating during services. Above this looms a simple black mosaic cross on a gold background, which dates from the iconoclastic period when figurative images were forbidden.The acoustics are outstanding. I was fortunate to see the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir as well as performances by some chamber orchestras.
Additional information http://www.istanbul.info.tr/area-by-area-istanbul/historical-places/77-churches/134-haghia-eirene.html
Walking after the concert the wall and gates of Topkapi were lit as well as the Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom).
I also went to a concert celebrating Turkey's application to join the EU. It was held in a wonderful concert hall, a short walk from where I live.
The University of Alabama has an annual trip with graduate students to Istanbul and a Turkish businessman who is a graduate of U of A hosts them at his offices in a reconstructed summer house on the Bosporus. Another friend who is also on the International Business Advisory Board of U of A and I were invited to join them for the afternoon. It was wonderful to visit with everyone and enjoy a spring afternoon on the Bosporus.
A popular form of entertainment is for a group to rent a boat and DJ for a cruise on the Bosporus. I joined a hiking club for their outing with a friend from work. There was a lot of Latin music and some dancers that did a great cha cha worthy of Dancing with the Stars! There was also traditional Turkish music and dancing, half circle with arms on shoulders and spirited foot movements! Great weather and beautiful moon that evening.
The American Consulate had a 4th of July party and a friend who received an invitation invited me as his guest. The Consulate was moved a few years ago and is now some distance from the center of the city on a hill all to itself.
Security concerns prompted the selection of the site. The British Consulate was bombed a few years ago. There were more Turkish businessmen than Americans much to my surprise. Many prominent people were there. We were treated to American fast food. Pizza Hut, Burger King, Chili's (just opened in Turkey), Krispy Kreme, KFC, Taco Bell, Starbucks. Other sponsors included Hilton, Ritz Carlton, UPS, HP, and Avon.
There is an active club for International Women in Istanbul and one subgroup is for North American Professional Women. They have monthly meetings, social events, and are a great network of information. Linkedin also has several groups for business people and a small group of us met for coffee one evening to discuss the business environment in Istanbul. It was an interesting group of Australian, British, Turkish and American.
I was invited by a friend at work to visit her summer house on the Black Sea. It is an hour drive if the traffic is not too bad. It is a development of 50 houses build as second homes. They have a lovely pool and private beach. We enjoyed spending the day on the beach and in the water, which was warmer than I expected it to be.
July is the International Jazz Festival with music in a variety of venues around the city. The concert I attended was in the courtyard of the Archaeological Museum. A most pleasant summer evening with a nice breeze and cool temperatures with great music and an appreciative crowd.
I went to a service at the Cathedral of Saint Esprit. It was build in the late 1800's and is a beautiful church. They have services in French and English. There are many African immigrants that are members and today at the French service the Congolese choir sang. Quite a treat!
July 25, 2010 Each borough of Istanbul has outdoor concerts during the summer. On Saturday evenings Sultanahmet has Ottoman military music. Ottoman military bands are thought to be the oldest variety of military marching band in the world. They were first mentioned in the 13 C. The notion of a military marching band, such as those in use even today, began to be borrowed from the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century. The sound associated with the mehterân also exercised an influence on European classical music, with composers such as Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig van Beethoven all writing compositions inspired by or designed to imitate the music of the mehters.
Below is a painting of a Mehterhane, Military Band, 1839 and a photo of a recent appearance of a marching band.
Also video of a portion of the performance this evening.
Earlier in the month, I saw the traditional music performance. People from the audience came to the stage and danced. There were some very attractive young women and men who got up to dance. There was an older woman in the audience that I could see near the stage who was enjoying the music. They tried to get her to get on the stage but she refused and then she changed her mind. Below is video of some of her dance.