May 27, 2009

istanbul diptychs : walking along the bosphorus

you will be told by someone sooner or later... the bosphorus is NOT a river, it is a strait which connects the black sea to the sea of marmara (which connects onwards to the mediterranean sea).

May 26, 2009


"Pale sunlight,
pale the wall.

Love moves away.
The light changes.

I need more grace
than I thought."

*from Coleman Barks' translation in "The Essential Rumi"

May 25, 2009

whirling dervishes

thanks to munir akdogan i was able to attend a sema (a whirling prayer cermenony) at the yenikapi mevlevihanesi. the mevlevi order is the continuation of the spiritual teachings and practices of jelaluddin rumi.

read more about the mevlevi order here

May 24, 2009

istanbul university

of the founding year it says on the big gate, "MCDLIII"
decode the roman numerals in less than 5 minutes (without going to the internet)
and you still classify as being young of mind !

May 18, 2009

onur yigit

thinker, engineer, cartoonist, product designer, couchsurfer, closet vegetarian...
an artist at heart !

onur introduced me to some fantastic vegetarian turkish food... something i would have surely missed in a land overpopulated with kebab and doner shops

May 13, 2009

the magnificent Hagia Sophia

from the greek, Ἁγία Σοφία, "holy wisdom"

the current building was constructed in 537 a.d. as a patriarchal church in the byzantine empire.
in 1453 when the ottoman turks captured constantinople (istanbul) it was converted into a mosque.
in 1935 it was converted to a museum by the republic of turkey.

"magnificent" - adjective - impressively beautiful, elaborate or extravagant, striking

the dome was under renovation

May 12, 2009

istanbul in the spring : erguvan trees

Erguvan is also known as the Judas Tree or as European Redbud.

Not only the tree, but also its flowers and the reddish-purple colour of those flowers are called “erguvan” in Turkish.

The Judas tree had white flowers in the beginning. But its flowers turned into reddish-purple because of the shame that the tree felt for Judas hanging himself on a Judas Tree after betraying Christ. And also the reddish-purple of judas trees was the colour of Byzantine royal family; only members of the Byzantine royalty could wear clothes which had the colour of flowers of Judas Trees, and the heirs of Byzantine Empire were all born in a room which was coloured as such, because it was believed that the Byzantine Empire was founded on the day when the Judas Trees bloomed.

It is said that Theodora, Empress of the Byzantine Empire, declined the advise of fleeing from rioters of Nika riots by saying, “The most beautiful shroud is erguvan coloured cape.”