Renee Santz in Turkey
Renee: Hello! My head is full of facts of Istanbul. Let’s go.
The Fatih Mehmet Bridge is the link that joins two continents. The bridge was built in 1988, and spans the Bosphorus Strait, to link the two halves of Istanbul, the only city that lies in two continents; Europe and Asia.
Off in the distance, you can see Galata Tower. It may look small from here, but it’s actually 2,040 feet high, and used to being even taller. In 1453, Ottoman Turks conquered the city and shortened the tower by 22 feet.
These two minarets rising above a huge domed roof, marked the site of a new mosque. The New Mosque is one of Istanbul’s most famous landmarks, and contains the Royal Pavilion, where the Turkish sultans stayed when they came to pray in mosque.
This great city was originally known as Constantinople, named after Constantine the Great. The Roman emperor founded the city in 324 AD. Constantinople was the capital of the Byzantine Empire, and flourished for nearly a thousand years, until it became the focus of fierce battles between Christian and Muslim armies. Finally, the Ottoman Turks captured the city for good, in 1453, and renamed it Istanbul.
Off in the distance, you can see one of the architectural marvels of the world; the Blue Mosque, the only mosque in the world with six minarets. A minaret is a tower from which a Muslim crier summons the faithful to prayer.
The Hagia Sophia is the most magnificent example of Byzantine architecture ever constructed! Originally this building was a Christian church of the Byzantine Empire, but when the Ottoman Turks conquered Istanbul, the building was used as a mosque. Today, the Hagia Sophia serves as a museum.
This collection of elegant structures is the Palace of the Ottoman Sultan, who ruled Turkey from the 15th to the 19th century. The nomadic origins of the Ottoman warriors are reflected in the palace’s design, which includes many unconnected buildings.