The wonders of Istanbul
The Hagia Sophia is magnificent inside and out.
The wonders of Istanbul
Antonio M. Claparols (The Philippine Star) - January 12, 2020 - 12:00am

This journey begins in Istanbul, a city that spreads on both sides of the Bosphorus Strait. This city has been the capital of three major empires – from the Romans, then the Byzantines, to the Ottomans and now Turkey.

Emperor Constantine, who converted to Christianity, had all the pagan temples repaired and built the magnificent Saint Sophia Church (Hagia Sophia). Following the Ottoman conquest in 1453, the city of Constantinople was renamed Istanbul by Mehmed II “The Conqueror.” It was the cradle of Christianity then with Rome. For over a thousand years, Constantinople was the capital of the western world. 

It was our first time here and we were astonished by what we saw. The Bosphorus Strait is so strategically located because it divides Europe from Asia. It connects the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea and the Mediterranean. The Black Sea is the world’s most isolated sea, connected to the oceans via the Mediterranean through the Bosphorus, Dardanelle and Gibraltar Straits, and linked with the Sea of Azov in the northeast through the Kerch Strait.

The catchment area of the Black Sea is six times larger than its surface, with the Danube being its main tributary. The Black Sea Protection Commission is responsible for the sustainable management of the Black Sea.

Walking around the quay in Be?ikta? one sees everyone happy, playing music and fishing non-stop. How I wish our bays and lakes were this clean and the people this happy. Everyone goes fishing in the Bosphorus as the marine biodiversity is rich. There is immense national pride and the environment is pristine.

The Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sofia and the Topkapi Palace are amongst the many wonders here.

We arrived on Nov. 10, the day that commemorates Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Mustafa Kemal Pasha also known as Ataturk was born in Thessaloniki and is the founder of the Republic of Turkey. He commissioned all the teachers and linguists to make the alphabet, as the language had no alphabet. He abolished the sultanate as the Ottoman Empire collapsed after World War 1 in 1917. He was the commander of the battle of Gallipoli and defeated the British empire, the French and their allies. He gave freedom of religion and women’s rights. In 1933 he gave universal suffrage and the right to vote. 

Today, he is revered by all. Nov. 10 is his day and everyone commemorates it. At 9:05 a.m., complete silence is observed to commemorate his death. 

The Hagia Sophia is magnificent inside and out, as the author and his group discover on this journey to Istanbul.

This amazing city was destroyed and rebuilt so many times and it has become richer and more prosperous than our country. Yes, we fought Spain, America and Japan and are sadly still fighting ourselves.

Their environment is better conserved than ours. Perhaps their will is stronger. They have all our problems but they are more patriotic than we are. Our revolutionary ancestors must be weeping in their graves. We should learn from them and follow their ways. The air is clean and wellness and history abound. If selling us a pass to visit 300 museums is an indication of wealth, then they are wealthy. Historically.

The Hagia Sophia is magnificent inside and out.

Recently I have learned that History was taken away from our curriculum. “What a waste, for there is nothing new in this world but the history you do not know,” said Bernard Shaw.

National education was the first goal of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Social change can be achieved by empowering women to educate their children. We must definitely put a premium on education or we will be a country of vassals.

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