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A Week in Istanbul – Off-Campus Study

Once I was studying about Constantinople in my tenth-grade world historical past class, I by no means in one million years thought that I’d truly step foot on this extremely historic metropolis.

And but by some means I ended up there final week! I feel it was solely barely much less stunning than if I had landed in an precise fairy story.

SIT doesn’t give college students an official spring break, however our tour took the place of a traditional break. Let me stroll you thru what made it so wonderful!

Day 1

Our flight landed within the afternoon, and nearly as quickly as we arrived on the lodge we ventured out and about! Our first go to was to Suleymaniye Mosque, a historic website situated a five-minute stroll away from the lodge. All through the remainder of the week I got here again right here at any time when I had a spare minute. The structure is beautiful, and the inside of the mosque could be very peaceable.

The domes look a bit of like a waterfall.

Day 2

A lot of sightseeing! Within the morning we visited Topkapi Palace.

After Topkapi we stood in line for what felt like years—with none lunch—nevertheless it was value it, as a result of we ended up on the Hagia Sophia!!!

We had been all drained, cranky, and hungry, however stepping inside this stunning constructing put all of our frustrations to relaxation for a couple of minutes.

The Hagia Sophia was initially constructed as a church within the first century. It was transformed to a mosque within the fifteenth century when Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Empire. In trendy instances it has been a museum, though in 2020 Turkey made the choice to transform it again right into a mosque.

Which means that visiting the Hagia Sophia now requires the identical guidelines of respect as visiting any mosque. Guests ought to costume modestly and take away their footwear earlier than stepping contained in the constructing. Ladies ought to cowl their hair. Since individuals are praying inside, it is rather hushed and never a whole lot of conversations are occurring.

Turkey’s transfer to show the Hagia Sophia again right into a mosque was very controversial, however other than the politics of the choice, I appreciated the sacredness of this area. Within the silence, barefoot, with the ornate dome stretching excessive above, I contemplated the other ways wherein we try to achieve God. A lot battle has taken place over such a lovely, peaceable area.

Day 3

After attending a lecture about refugees and migration in Turkey within the morning, within the afternoon we explored the Asian aspect of Istanbul!

Istanbul stretches between the continents of Asia and Europe, so it has parts of each cultures. To me it felt very European compared with Amman (although, granted, I’ve by no means truly been anyplace else in Europe).

Essentially the most attention-grabbing a part of today for me was visiting Çamlıca Mosque. It is a brand-new mosque, which opened in 2019. It’s the largest mosque in Turkey and the thirteenth largest mosque on the earth. And it was designed by two girls! Lady energy!

Inside of the mosque Exterior of the mosque: photos can not do justice to how enormous this constructing is. These delicate stripes on the carpet present worshippers the place to face and kneel for prayer. And so they’re additionally heated!

Day 4

Within the morning we met with employees on the Syrian media group Enab Baladi. It was tremendous attention-grabbing to listen to their tales of survival and resistance. It was additionally surprisingly comforting to listen to individuals talking Arabic once more! Identical to Jordan (and in contrast to Turkey), Syria is an Arab state, so the 2 international locations share cultural similarities.

Within the afternoon we visited Taksim Sq., a vacation spot central to the European aspect of Istanbul. We had a number of hours to wander round, so my buddies and I went memento buying, performed with the make-up at Sephora, and petted each stray cat we may discover.

Later we visited a lovely Orthodox church.

Day 5

That is the day after we went to the Princes’ Islands. They obtained their title as a result of that is the place the Sultan’s brothers had been put in exile in the event that they turned too threatening. These days they’re beautiful, nature-filled islands with no gasoline-powered autos allowed. I used to be having a lot enjoyable that I took no photos on today, so simply think about Mackinac Island however with Turkish ice cream as an alternative of fudge and also you’ll get the vibe.

Day 6

We went to the archeological museum! It was completely wonderful! Outdated artwork is so cool!

Day 7

Our final day in Istanbul was a free day. Within the morning I visited the Jewish Museum of Turkey, which tells the story of Jewish communities in Turkey from historic instances to the current. It additionally homes a synagogue, which meant that in my time in Istanbul I used to be capable of go to locations of worship for all three of the Abrahamic faiths.

Within the afternoon, I visited a small neighborhood referred to as Balat. This neighborhood was traditionally inhabited by Istanbul’s Greek inhabitants. It was an excellent place to poke round and discover; we additionally obtained to speak to a pleasant Kurdish store proprietor about her expertise rising up when it was unlawful to talk Kurdish. To today Kurds in Turkey face discrimination and human rights violations.

The museum had outdated newspapers revealed within the Ladino language, and it was fascinating to notice the similarities and variations with Spanish. In my view, each cafe ought to embody crocheted tablecloths and napping cats.

And similar to that, it was time to fly again to Amman. Thanks for journeying with me.


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