Sunset in Istanbul, January 11, 2015. Historic peninsula.

Sunset in Istanbul

These photos are not new – I took them exactly three years ago. But today, Facebook reminded them to me. I was going to a concert on the Anatolian side and crossing the Bosphorus by vapur. It was a nice January evening, and the sun was setting. In fact, sunset in Istanbul is always beautiful.

Sunset in Istanbul, January 11, 2015
Sunset in Istanbul, January 11, 2015. A seagull is flying close to the vapur. The seagulls always follow vapurs, because people throw them food from the vapur – especially pieces of “simit”. Simit (or gevrek) is often described as the Turkish bagel but this is an inaccurate description. It is a circular bread, typically encrusted with sesame seeds or, less commonly, poppy, flax or sunflower seeds, found across the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire, and the Middle East.
Sunset in Istanbul, January 11, 2015
In this photo, you can see the Galata tower in the background. The Galata Tower (Galata Kulesi in Turkish) — called Christea Turris (the Tower of Christ in Latin) by the Genoese — is a medieval stone tower in the Galata/Karaköy quarter of Istanbul, Turkey, just to the north of the Golden Horn’s junction with the Bosphorus. One of the city’s most striking landmarks, it is a high, cone-capped cylinder that dominates the skyline and offers a panoramic vista of Istanbul’s historic peninsula and its environs. The nine-story tower is 66.90 meters tall (62.59 m without the ornament on top, 51.65 m at the observation deck), and was the city’s tallest structure when it was built. The elevation at ground level is 35 meters above sea-level. The tower has an external diameter of 16.45 meters at the base, an 8.95 meters diameter inside, and walls that are 3.75 meters thick.
Sunset in Istanbul, January 11, 2015. Historic peninsula.
Sunset in Istanbul, over the historic peninsula. You can see the Topkapı Palace, the Hagia Sophia, and the Blue Mosque in the background. The mosque’s real name is the Sultan Ahmed Mosque. Its popular name, the “Blue Mosque” comes from the blue tiles adorning the walls of its interior. It was built from 1609 to 1616, during the rule of Ahmed I. Hagia Sophia is a former Christian patriarchal basilica (church), later an imperial mosque, and now a museum (Ayasofya Müzesi in Turkish). From the date of its construction in 537, it was used as a church for 916 years but, following the conquest of Istanbul by Fatih Sultan Mehmed in 1453, it was converted into mosque. Then it converted into a museum in 1935. Its name comes from Ἁγία Σοφία in Greek, meaning, “Holy Wisdom”; Latin: Sancta Sophia or Sancta Sapientia; Turkish: Ayasofya. And Topkapı Palace is a large palace located on the Seraglio Point (Sarayburnu), a promontory overlooking the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara, with a good view of the Bosphorus from many points of the palace. It was the one of the major residency of the Ottoman sultans for almost 400 years (1465–1856) of their 624-year reign.

“Vapur” is a special word for “ferry” in Turkey it is widely used in especially in Istanbul and Izmir. It comes from the French equivalent of “steamboat”, “bateau à vapeur”. Vapour means “steam” and bateau means “boat”. The first private steam ferry or “bateau à vapeur” crossed the Bosphorus in 1837. The first ferries were wooden paddle boats and were later replaced by iron and steel screw ships. The city authorities took over the fleet and formed a Şirket-i Hayriye (boat company) in 1945. The “vapur” is not just a transportation method – it also a huge influence on the Turkish culture. There are many songs and poems about vapur.

A Vapur in Istanbul
A vapur. In the background are Topkapı Palace, Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque in Istanbul.


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