East Meets West

Hagia Sophia Andrea here. As you may have noticed, some of the Wenches have recently been gallivanting around the globe, as the world begins to open up to exploration. I’m adding to the exotic travelogue, as I’ve just returned from an amazing journey through the ancient treasures of the Mediterranean, starting in Istanbul and ending in Athens.

Istanbul has always been at the top of of my To-Do List, as its exotic allure of East meets West, and its place as  such a special crossroads of history have always fascinated me. So I’m going to talk a little bit about the city, and my whirlwind impressions, though that won’t begin to do justice to the rich tapestry of its past and present.

One of the pleasures about taking a cruise on a Viking ship (the modern-day cruise line, NOT the longboat of one of Pia's fabulous heroes!) are the resident historians, who give evening talks on Astrolabeach destination. One of the basic points our professor made was that the city’s has three distinct “personalities,” reflected in its three different names throughout history. Though the site has been inhabited since Neolithic times, the first great city was said to be founded by by a Greek king named Byzas around 660 BC and became known as Byzantium. (Its acropolis was on the site of today’s Topkapi Palace. (Left: Hagia Sophia; Right: Islamic astrolabe from the Museum of Islamic Arts.)


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