Turkey

RAIDERS OF NOAH'S ARK

Hasan Baba has stuck to the same daily routine for the past 23 years. When he wakes up in his little room at the information centre near Durupınar, he looks out through his window and sees the eternal snow cap of Mount Ararat. Then he makes tea. He tidies up the exhibition room, cleaning the modest collection that includes pictures, drawings, newspaper clippings, fossils and mysterious chunks which, according to the labels, are petrified wood dating from the time of the “Great Flood”. The elderly Kurd always stops in front of one framed letter. It came all the way from the United States.

Fri, 08/01/2008 - 15:42
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A KIND OF PARADISE, TO BE DISCOVERED

Anyone who has ventured as far south as Rezovo on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast has one tantalising memory: the enormous, completely empty beach seen from Rezovo's self-styled village square. It is huge, the sand looks extremely fine, and there is no one in sight: just the type of thing you could experience in Bulgaria before the Great Construction Boom of the mid-2000s. You don't get beaches like that in Europe anymore, you catch yourself thinking. They belong to Southeast Asia or the Caribbean, don't they; yet this one is right in front of you, within an arm's length's reach.

Sun, 06/01/2008 - 14:15
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THE SUNKEN PALACE

The forces of Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II – whose victory over the Byzantines earned him the epithet “The Conqueror” – finally broke through Constantinople's fortress walls on 29 May 1453 and flooded through the streets of the defeated city. Swarming into the square in front of the Hagia Sophia Church, they battered down its doors, driving out the Byzantines who had sought refuge inside like a herd of terrified sheep. Only a few metres away and beneath the surface where these dramatic events were taking place, all was quiet.

Fri, 02/01/2008 - 12:38
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THE TASTE OF ISTANBUL

“If one had but a single glance to give the world, one should gaze on Istanbul.” Two hundred years later Alphonse de Lamartine's words still ring true – especially when talking about food. Istanbul is the nearest place you can take refuge from the kebabcheta experiments in Bulgar restaurants, the heartburn caused by underbaked bread and doughy pastry, the Shopskas with tomatoes that taste like apples, the yoghurt with preservatives and the depressing yet inevitable absence of sea food.

Tue, 05/01/2007 - 16:53
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MAGNIFICENT HAGIA SOPHIA

To enter the naos of the church, referred to as the Great Church by citizens of Constantinople when it was first built, visitors have to pass through the narthex and one of its nine arched doors. Most people choose to enter through the middle door, the largest, above which is a mosaic depicting Emperor Constantine the Great and Emperor Justinian offering the Virgin Mary and young Jesus small-scale models of Constantinople and the church.

Thu, 02/01/2007 - 09:37
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BY THE WAY

In 1784, Kurdish warlord Ishak Pasha chose a high plateau on the side of the mythical Mount Ararat in present-day eastern Turkey as the location for his palace. The site had a great strategic significance; the Silk Road passed through the valley below, and Ishak Pasha collected the tolls.

Sun, 10/01/2006 - 15:16
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