Treasures of Turkey
A forum on contemporary Turkey- the riches it offers the traveler, and where it stands, culturally and politically, in the region and the world.
Join us on March 22nd for “Treasures of Turkey,” the first event in our celebration of Turkish culture and cuisine. Graham Ümit Dogan, director of the boutique tour company Treasures of Travel, will lead a slide presentation on travel in Turkey, with commentary on the country’s important art, archeological and historical sights, natural wonders, and exotic bazaars. Ümit Dogan is Turkish-American and was educated in Germany, where he received degrees in Textile Engineering and Business Management. His love of people and his knowledge of cultures, history, arts & crafts, archaeology and world affairs led him to the travel business. This background and the intimate nature of our tours have encouraged many lasting friendships.
Following the presentation, Fred Lundahl of Music for the Eyes will facilitate a panel discussion on contemporary Turkey, focusing on the country’s place on the world stage, including its role in the conflict in Syria and with the so-called Islamic State, relations with the EU and US, and whether there can be hope for reconciliation 100 years after the Armenian genocide.
To get you inspired for your Turkish travels, here’s a sneak peak at a few of the country’s great “treasures”:
Constructed by the Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian I in 537 AD, the Hagia Sophia is among Turkey’s most visited sites. Originally a Greek Orthodox patriarchal basilica, it was turned into a mosque after the Ottomans conquered Istanbul in 1453. The gigantic dome, which measures 102 feet in diameter, was for 1,000 years the world’s largest enclosed space.
The region of Cappadocia in central Anatolia is well-known for its strange rock formations, known a “fairy chimneys.” These were formed over the years as a result of wind and water eroding the areas volcanic layers – a material called “tuff” and a harder layer of basalt. Many of the fairy chimneys have been carved out to make homes, churches, and monasteries in the rock, some of which have wonderful frescoes inside.
On the summit of this 7,000-foot mountain in Southern Turkey is the tomb-sanctuary of King Antiochus I Theos of Commagene, built in 62 BC. The site was originally flanked by huge statues of the king, lions, eagles, and various Greek, Armenian, and Persian gods, some as much as 30 feet high. The heads of the statues have since fallen or been removed by iconoclasts, and now lie scattered around the site.
This natural site in southwest Turkey, named pamukkale or “cotton castle,” is a wonder of springs, travertines, and terraces built by carbonate minerals left by the flowing water. The ancient Greek city of Hieropolis was built here, on top of the white “castle,” a deposit that rises above the valley. People have bathed in the pools here for thousands of years – their temperatures range from 95 to 212 degrees.
The Sultan Ahmed Mosque, known as the Blue Mosque for the color of the 20,000 patterned tiles adorning its interior, was build in the early 1600s by Sultan Ahmed I. Still used as a mosque today, from its six fluted minarets the call to prayer echoes across the Old City of Istanbul.
The Library of Celsus, located in Ephesus in Anatolia, was built in honor of the Roman Senator Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus in 135 AD. Celsus had been consul of Asia and was quite wealthy – he paid for the library himself, and is buried in a sarcophagus beneath it. Originally, the library contained 12,000 scrolls, all of which were destroyed in a fire after an earthquake struck the city in 262 AD.
Join us on March 22nd at 4:00pm to learn about these and many more of the treasures Turkey has to offer. Admission is by donation at the door. See our website for more details, and to purchase tickets for the following week’s “Language of Food: Welcome to Turkiye,” our celebration of Turkish food and culture.