Monday, July 8, 2013

Istanbul Day One

 Our ship docked in Istanbul overnight, giving us two days to explore the city. The first evening we traveled to an underground cistern. In ancient times, aqueducts supplied the city with water, however enemies destroyed them or poisoned the water during war. Cisterns were built to store safe drinking water during times of battle. The cistern we visited is supported by 336 columns, all of which were imported from Roman structures. At the back of the cistern, two Medusa heads (one facing sideways and one upside down) serve as the bases of two columns. Certain scenes from the James Bond movie, “From Russia with Love,” were filmed there!
Down the street from the cistern lies the spice market. There, locals and tourists alike shop for fresh spices, teas, and Turkish Delight candy.  As Ramadan begins tomorrow, the market was quite crowded with locals who were purchasing spices for feasts. During Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset but enjoy feasts at night.
Then we spent an hour traveling down the Bosphorus Strait, the waterway between the European and Asian sides of Istanbul. We crossed under a large suspension bridge that connects Europe (on the left in the picture) to Asia (on the right).

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