Friday, January 05, 2007

Due Respect to ISTANBUL - ISTANBULa Saygi

At the entrance of the Istanbul port,
there is a lighthouse,
in front of Haghia Sophia on the coast.
Lighthouse stands for FENER(lantern) in Turkish.
One of the reasons I like English more sometimes...

The name of this lighthouse is Ahirkapi Feneri
(heavy entrance lantern). Just above this lighthouse,
at the top of the small hill stands Haghia Sophia.
This museum enlightens our minds and shows us
how very large systems can be built to endure.
Previously, it was assigned to be a mosque by
Fatih Sultan Mehmed(Conquerror Sultan).
Before its conquerror, it was meant to be
built as a Church by a Byzantium Emperor.

There is a mysterious water sistern
in the same district left from the Byzantium,
Yerebatan Sarayi(The Sunken Palace).
The Sunken Serail can be visited easily,
walking on pedestrian bridges underground
over the water filled bottom... Its mystery
comes from a collossal head of Medusa dating
from pre-Christian times...

This antique marble head belonged to
a temple that was originally built at the
location of Haghia Sophia or the same vicinity.
The temples were built at the top of hills
to help ship navigation with their burning torches
in those past times. With their wisdom,
they not only guided their society through
violent times but also they managed navigation.
As my former EUROCONTROL colleague had mentioned
once funnyly, the oracle at Didyma, was one of them,
which also gave advises to the king, but the
king was responsible for the results of his decision.
The same principle applies to the pilot and the
Air Traffic controller in the upper airspace.

Returning back to the antique marble head,
turned upside down and used as a base for one of
many columns at the deepest point of the Sunken Palace-
water sistern, I would like to allude:

"just as we forbid sacrifices, so it is Our will that
the ornaments of public works shall be preserved"
The Survival of Roman Antiquities in the Middle Ages,
Michael GREENHALGH 1989 Duckworth, p.93,
Badische Landes Bibliothek.

Said one of the dieties just after the Christian
religion got established. Probably, the Byzantium
Christians liked this but they could not keep it
publicly because it was Pagan.

"From the mid-fourth century it became both
dangerous and unprofitable to be a pagan (survey in
Cochrane 1940, 329 ff.) as 'imparial legislation
offended the Christians a pretext for physical action'
against the cults(Borner, 1984, 346). In the year
365, worshipping images or sacrificing to them
became a capital offence (Cod Th. 16.10.6).

Infact, "pagans gave Christianity 'a good
deal of pagan culture and not a little pagan practice'
(Bonner, 1984, 356).

What strikes me most about ISTANBUL is how
she managed to keep different cultures in herself.
If you have an opportunity to come and visit Istanbul,
please keep an eye on how Istanbul has first hidden
then kept and finally brought her own to the sunlight
again, thus preserved her own culture...

If you sit at Harem and drink a tea at the
Damalis kaffee or at the miniature Virgin tower island,
you enjoy the 360 degrees view of Istanbul... I love
to drink my tea changing locations in the same afternoon,
looking at my city from different locations on the
Bosphorus... Istanbul is a marvelous city built on
seven hills, a water strait and three peninsula...
I grew up in ISTANBUL and with different views
of her.

Istanbul has been a center of ship navigation
and trade for thousands of years. Conquerror Sultan
Mehmed decided to KEEP the city as it is. You will be
able to see with your own eyes, when you visit Haghia Sophia.
He ordered the precious mosaics to be covered with
lime paint. Similar to Byzantians hiding the Medusa head.

Whoever conquers it, Istanbul is a city of TOLERANCE.
She is a country miniaturized in a city... She is a
thousand years time imbued in stone and flesh... She is
millions of soul in a single body. She deserves every bit of
minute interest she drives.

As the European Union is approaching Turkey and
expressing interest to reclaim its own and maybe its
source of aspiration for its next Renaissance,
Istanbul shines as a city of tolerance preserving
what belongs very much to Her.

Istanbul deserves due respect in everything she does.

I wish you a Merry Christmas and happy New Year...

Seasons Greetings to you all...

Ali Riza SARAL