NAME THAT COUNTRY

For about 400 years, from the mid-15th century, Topkapi Palace was the residence and administrative center of the Ottoman Empire. The sprawling complex occupies the end of a peninsula bordered by 3 bodies of water – the Marmara Sea, the Bosphorus Straight and the Golden Horn. In 1924, the palace became a museum open to the public and is among the most visited sites in our mystery country.

 

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NAME THAT COUNTRY Episode 126

The so-called Green Mausoleum is located in the city of Bursa, in the northwest of our mystery country, across the Sea of Marmara from the country’s largest and most famous city. Bursa was the first capital of the Ottoman Empire and the Green Mausoleum is the tomb of the fifth Ottoman sultan Mehmed I. The city is known for its Ottoman architecture, including a number of beautiful mosques.

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NAME THAT COUNTRY Episode 116

The Chora Museum (originally a church, then a mosque) is a wee bit removed from the most famous sites (i.e. Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace…) of our mystery country’s largest city, but well worth the effort to visit. The existing 11th-century structure was built on the remains of a 4th-century Byzantine church. When the original church was built, it was outside the city walls, hence the name Chora, which means “country” in ancient Greek. Most of the frescos and mosaics are from the 14th century. After the Ottoman conquest, the church was converted to a mosque and the figurative art, not allowed in Islam, was covered in plaster. Restoration of the mosaics and frescos began in the 1940s.

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NAME THAT COUNTRY Episode 107

Even with only about 15% uncovered, Ephesus is one of the most extensively excavated Greco-Roman sites in the world. The city was established as a Greek colony in the 10th century BCE. By the Roman period, Ephesus was the 2nd largest city in the empire, with a population of 250,000. After Alexandria, it was the 2nd largest port in the eastern Mediterranean. The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus was one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world.

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NAME THAT COUNTRY Episode 79

The fresco pictured above is one of nearly 50 vivid biblical scenes that wrap the interior walls, domes and vaults of the Chora Museum (originally a church, then a mosque) in the largest city of our mystery country. The existing 11th-century structure was built on the remains of a 4th-century Byzantine church. When the original church was built, it was outside the city walls, hence the name Chora, which means “country” in ancient Greek. Most of the frescos and mosaics are from the 14th century. After the Ottoman conquest, the church was converted to a mosque and the figurative art, not allowed in Islam, was covered in plaster. Restoration of the mosaics and frescos began in the 1940s.

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NAME THAT COUNTRY Episode 69

For ancient Greeks and Romans, Hieropolis, in the Anatolian southwest of our mystery country, was a luxury spa  destination. Visitors today probably know it best for the travertine-terrace pools, which inspired the modern name, Pamukkale or Cotton Castle in the local tongue. Formed by millions of years of mineral deposits from the thermal waters, the white terraces rise abruptly from the valley floor to over 500 feet high and can be seen from 10 miles away.

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It’s Fig Season in Turkey!

photo by Capucine Fachot-Charbonneau, The Istanbul Guide

photo by Capucine Fachot-Charbonneau, The Istanbul Guide

As you walk down almost any street in Istanbul, save for the main arteries, there’s a distinct perfume of late summer afternoons. The figs have arrived and so has their sweet, heady aroma. Though dried figs are available all year round in Istanbul, there’s nothing like biting into a fresh one, as its perfume hits the back of the throat, and the crunchy seeds heighten the pleasure derived from its sweet chewiness.

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