September 6, 2008


Today we started out by touring the Topkapi Palace which was built in1478. It was amazing all the artifacts that are there. They no longer havean active Palace so it has been turned into a museum. We have no way to know what is real or not but they had John the Baptist's arm and head, Moses rod. Also 86 and 55 carrot diamonds that were incredible. I could go on and on about the Palace as it had so many incredible items and things to see.

Second we took a boat tour that went up the Bosporous Straights that separates the part of Istanbul that is in Asia from the part that is inEurope. I bet most of you had no idea that the city is split up this way as I didn't know until recently. It was incredible as we went by two former palaces, a fort from the 14th century, as well as many other government buildings and other countries Embassies. There is also a huge bridge that connects Asia and Europe which is the most famous bridge in Turkey.

As great as these two things we did first were the rest of the afternoon is my highlight of the day. We went over to the newer part of the city that is much more European and modern. It is only new as they tore down some old buildings are built newer ones in some areas. But most of it is still veryold. But the Highlight is we were able to go into a Greek Orthodox Church, two Catholic churches St. Anthony's and St. Mary's and also saw a few other churches while walking. When you consider that Turkey is at least 98.5% Muslim we did not expect to see these other churches. We also met a man atthe Greek Orthodox Church and when we asked him if he was Turkish he said no I am a Christian. He was of course Turkish but wanted us to know he was a Christian first. We really didn't expect to hear that on this trip. We also drove by one building that was used as a Mosque and also as a church so it had the dome and minaret for Islam and also a Cross for the church. I asked the tour guide and she said that is a very unusual situation and of course they don't use the building at the same time. I also cannot even attempt to tell you how many people are in this area we are staying in. When we went out walking the last two nights there are at least 10,000 people in about a 3 or 4 block area. Of course in a town of 15 Million this is everywhere all over the city I am sure. It is Ramadan so alot of Muslims are fasting during the daylight hours. So if they don't eat or drink from before it gets light until 7:30pm a lot of people are coming out to eat at 7:30pm and people are everywhere.

1 Picture from the Palace Grounds
2 Fort from the 14th century
3 Turkish Flag
4 Underneath the bridge that connects Europe & Asia
5-7 Pictures of a few of the churches we went inside of and walked by
8 Christian man we met today
9-16 More pictures of the churches we saw

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