Archive for May 3, 2013

Antalya, Turkey

Welcome to Turkey.

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Our next three ports are all resorts in the “Turquoise Coast” area of Turkey.  The area is called that because of the color of the water in this part of the Mediterranean.  Actually, the word “turquoise” is derived from “Turkey,” and we saw a lot of turquoise jewelry here.

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     Our first stop, on April 12, was Antalya.  It was a beautiful day (really, the best weather we had had so far) & this city far exceeded our expectations.  Antalya was founded in the 2d Century BC by a King of Pergamon called Attalus II, who named it “Attaleia.”  It later came under Roman & Byzantine control until finally becoming part of the Turkish empire in the 14th Century.

     It is no wonder this is a vacationer’s haven, for it is quite beautiful.  Antalya is located on a curved bay surrounded by mountains.  Our ship was docked at one end of this bay & the old town of Antalya, called Kaleici, is at the other end.  It was way too far to walk, so it was fortunate that the ship provided a shuttle bus.  Around the docking area the mountains were quite impressive.

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    I will show you the prime sights in town, but really the best part was just walking around the enjoyable old city section of town.  Here is a picture of it taken from the ship later as we sailed away.

190a. Antalya old town from sea

The first landmark was the Yivli Minare, or Fluted Minaret, dating from the 13th Century.  Once decorated with turquoise tiles, it is visible everywhere in the old town. The mosque attached to it is still in use & has a roof of domes covered in tiles, the like of which we have not seen elsewhere.

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We came to Hadrian’s Gate, the only remaining gate to the city, which was built in honor of Emperor Hadrian’s visit to the city in 130 AD. It had been inside the Turkish wall of the city until being uncovered & restored in the 1950’s.  The tower on the left is Roman while the one on the right was built by the Turks in 1260.

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After passing through the gate we strolled through the old town, enjoying the shops & the colors & the friendly people, and the absence of crowds.

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We also saw the Kesik Minare (Broken Minaret), which was damaged by fire in the 1850’s.  The ruins next to it have been a Greek temple, a church & a mosque.

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     After that we decided to walk to Antalya’s Archeological Museum.  This was a pretty long walk, but it was a beautiful day & we still had plenty of time.  Among other things on the way we saw a nice fountain with bird statues & an equestrian statue of the Seljuk Turkish Sultan who conquered Antalya in 1207. We have a lot of equestrian statues in Washington but most of them are pretty static, just a guy sitting on a horse.  This one was interesting because it was so much more dynamic.

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Outside the Archeological Museum we saw some pretty wisteria and encountered an odd bird, perhaps a peahen?

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    The museum was fabulous.  We were very glad we made the effort to find it, but disappointed that our time there was so inadequate to see the collection.  Most of the items came from nearby sites.  This part of Anatolia was (if I remember correctly) part of the Greek Ionian League, so there were several prominent cities in the area, most notably Pergamon.  The museum was divided into separate rooms by type of item. I will show you a few of the things that appealed to me in each room. The first room we visited was for statuary, but on the way there was an exhibit about how ancient burial sites appear.

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Next we saw the mosaics room, containing mosaics recovered from Anatolia (mostly Perge & Pergamon, I think).  This was our first real taste of ancient mosaics with pictures, and this whetted our appetites for more (we will see many more in future episodes). Photos were very difficult because of the way the lighting in the room reflected off the tiles, but this will give you an idea. 

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  We saw a stone table with a game board carved into it. The exhibit says that no one has figured out how this game was played. On the wall was a picture from a vase of Greek warriors playing a board game.

91a. Antalya game board panorama

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  Next we entered the fabulous room of sarcophagi.  “Sarcophagus” in ancient greek means “flesh eating predator.”  There were quite a few of them at the museum, most elaborately decorated with reliefs & even statuary (mostly of the occupants reclining atop the sarcophagus). Each sarcophagus was intricately carved from a single block of stone, and the lid was from another.

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In this room there was also a sarcophagus for a dog named Stephanos.  He must have been well loved for someone to spring for a sarcophagus, even a pretty plain one, since these must have been pretty expensive.  There was a translation of the inscription.

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Our time was running out & we didn’t want to miss the ship, so we pretty much raced through the rest on the way back to the entrance.  We saw quickly some rugs that must be antiques & a featured larger than lifesize statue of Herakles (Hercules) that is said to be the finest Roman copy of a famous Greek statue in existence (copying Greek art was one of the things the Romans did best). It was pretty impressive in person.

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We made it back to the ship in plenty of time, where we encountered some more fruit art before sailing away.  Then, as the sun sank behind those beautiful mountains, we headed for our second resort on the Turquoise coast, Marmaris.

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