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Western Turkey 101
Tour Group Journal

Day 02  Thursday Sept.25, 2008  ISTANBUL  Submitted by Meli

Today is the longest day of the tour. We will immerse ourselves in to the long history of this fascinating city. Istanbul is the most unique city on earth. If we try to justify this statement from three dimensions, we can first look at the city  from an airplane.  You can  then see that Istanbul is built on two continents like no other city on earth. Europe and Asia are separated by a water way called Bosporus.  When walking in the streets of Istanbul, you will see that the historical monuments are not just there  displayed in the parks but the monuments are part of Istanbul. history it self is what Istanbul is. If you go to the third dimension, the  underground of Istanbul, there you can also see that the historic cultural heritage of the city is stunning and certainly is still an inseparable part of the huge metropolis. We started our day with a visit to the Byzantine Basilica


The basilica cistern was built in 532 AD to contain water that was necessary for making the bricks of Aya Sophia. Then it became the major water source of Istanbul until electricity started being used for pumping water from as far as 45 km out of Istanbul.


The pillars were all brought from nearby pagan temples which were no longer important for the citizens of Christian Constantinople.

We like to take a break at a Turkish coffee house where generally the old men hang out and have tea.

MELITOUR believes in not treating the country like an open air museum. So besides visiting and learning about the see must sites we always make sure that our guests get a chance to experience the daily life.

The Turkish Islamic Art museum gave us a nice introduction of what we will see while we are in Anatolia. The Ethnographic section of the museum has a nice display to help us understand the role of women in our society which is divided in different social- economic groups in the tents, towns villages and the big cities.

The rest of the day was in Aya Sophia and Topkapi Palace. By the end of the day we felt quite exhausted. But when we got together for our group meeting at 06:30 PM every one was enthusiastic and they knew that they were starting a wonderful travel experience!!