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Büyükada Island is the largest of a chain of small islands known as the Princes Islands in the Marmara Sea, about an hour by ferry from the country’s largest city, once known as Constantinople. In the 19th century wealthy Ottomans built summer houses here and many of those distinctive wooden mansions are part of the island’s appeal to tourists today. Motorized vehicles are prohibited on the island, which adds to its slow-paced, old-world atmosphere. 

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NAME THAT COUNTRY

Built in the 6th century, this building stood as the largest Christian cathedral for 1,000 years and set the standard for Byzantine architecture. For students of architecture and art history, this place alone is worth a trip to our mystery country. It was dedicated to Holy Wisdom, Hagia Sophia in Greek. In the 15th century, it was converted to a mosque, hence the Arabic inscriptions in the dome and hanging medallions and the minarets outside. The building has been a museum since 1935. As of this writing, it is the 2nd most visited museum in our mystery country.

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The Grand Bazaar is one of the world’s oldest and largest traditional covered markets, with more than 4,000 shops on over 60 streets. Just about everything you can think of is for sale here, but leather, gold and silver jewelry, ceramics, textiles and carpets are good buys. The bazaar is located in the country’s largest city, near such famous sites as Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and the Basilica Cistern on the  city’s historical peninsula (surrounded on three sides by the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus Strait and the Golden Horn). The bazaar’s first shops were built in the 15th century, on order of the Ottoman sultan Mehmet II soon after he conquered the city.

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This spice bazaar, just steps from the Bosphorus shore, is one of the best known and largest covered markets in our mystery country’s most populous city. It has been the center of the city’s spice trade for over 350 years. The market is called the Egyptian Bazaar because its construction was financed by income from Egypt, which was an Ottoman province at the time.

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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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