It’s been 3 months since I left Turkey, during which I wasn’t able to write a word about that wondrous 5 days journey. I couldn’t break that circle of charm and magic that enchanted me the minute I stepped foot there, not a minute before now. Why? I believe we can only write when we can touch our wounds with a pen, totally aware that it won’t hurt anymore to share with the public. Letting go of Turkey is that old festered wound that goes back in time to the Ottoman Empire, a wound that one simple visit brought back to life and it bled again. I cried 400 years of glory and more… it’s not the 5 days duration, it’s the lifetime deprivation of a better home, a 1 million times improved version of it… I can write now, even after falling in that magnetic field of attraction because I have promised myself to visit again whenever possible and learn the language, too.
When fog invaded my field of vision while waiting in the long queue to get inside the Dolmabahçe palace, I was a bit scared. Fog is not something usual in the cities by the sea, at least where I live. Fog is restricted to high mountains and their peaks and perhaps it is linked in my mind with many horror tales that included fog in the setting. My senses were alert, I feared something bad might happen.
Everything related to this palace is majestic, and though it was not totally the Ottoman style of architecture and it remotely reminded with the Versay Palace in France, one can only remain astonished by such powerful presence of the past, and signs of dominance and prosperity.
We were forced to wear some special plastic bags as to cover our shoes, a way of preserving the inside of the palace from decay. I wish they had this bright idea at the Blue Mosque, where we took off our shoes and held them in a plastic bag. Anyway, When we got inside I knew I will never be able to remember every single detail told by our tour guide, so I gave him my phone to record his words. A great part of what he said I couldn’t hear back then because I was taken by the inside of the palace. No photography is allowed inside, the photos are exclusive.
One of the most interesting information about this palace is that every single one of the clocks are set to 9:05, the time Ataturk passed away. It is also symmetrically built. I kept thinking of the luxurious lifestyles the Sultans and the other inhabitants of the palace led. Where they happy? The fog added to the gloomy ambiance outside. I couldn’t see the sea from the huge windows and it dawned: huge palaces can be so lonesome and cold…
we visited Top Kapi & The Blue Mosque the same day and I still think Top Kapi deserved more time.
“Top Kapi” translates in Arabic “الباب العالي” but it’s pronounced “طوب قابا” as our tour guide has pronounced it many times. Having had a historical background about the place lets you understand many incidents that happened in the past and can also give the place a sentimental value. We were about to step into the palace where the most important decisions were taken some time in the past, a place that caused fear to many European countries in the past that pushed them to conspire against it with us “Arabs” who were very helpful in making this empire collapse (that is why our tour guide said it’s better to say we are Lebanese than Arabs because Arabs are the symbol of treason ever since). You wouldn’t know where to look exactly once you’re in: the gardens, the buildings, the ceilings everything was majestic. Not as luxurious as Dolmabahçe, because of its military nature, but still as majestic.
Each room inside showed a special treasure, some of the sultans personal belongings of jewellery and clothing and other Islamic heritage from khalifa swords to the Prophet’s beard, Abaya and shoes. I hate that we were in such a hurry that we had to leave so early. Quran recital was playing in the background and all the time I thought it was a recording, but to my surprise, I saw a Turkish Sheikh reading live and a bunch of tourists were busy taking photographs of him.
It seems that for geographic reasons our tour guide squeezed The Blue Mosque in the schedule. I have never seen a bigger mosque in my life. Its special 6 minarets architecture is the symbol of the city and no matter how small any other mosque is in Istanbul, it is always a miniature of The Blue Mosque. I waited for Farah to finish praying and I wasn’t sure what to look at. One can never see the end of that mosque and it is one of the most crowded places I’ve been to in Istanbul. Some people were praying, others were taking photographs and a lot were just resting.
When anyone says Turkish people are proud, I can totally understand where it comes from. They have a precious heritage that is the source of all that pride, their attitude can be explained that way. I wonder why Lebanese people feel as proud and even a bit more, though they have nothing they can take credit for. All of our historical monuments are remainders of several invaders that ruled us in the past. Oh, and the Cedar trees? Well they are God made, nothing to do with the Lebanese pathetic existence. Turkish people have left their prints, they have made something and even if they have lost their past glory, a different kind of golden age is being formed. Istanbul, the land of sultans & leaders along with its rich cultural background that sheds the light to a brighter future. A sweet combination of the past and the present, that’s the beauty of the city of paradoxes..