Posts Tagged ‘unique family vacation’

April 28, 2011

What Will Your Teenager Love about Turkey?

Christian at the Hagia Sophia

We are always wondering how to keep our teens active and engaged, with plenty of physical action to tire them out. But let’s not forget open and curious minds, waiting to be filled with fascinating tales and images. Turkey is perfect for teenagers because of its history, art, and culture… but then it has ocean, mountains, and rivers too that offer so much outdoor excitement. Turkey is ideal for teens.

What does 14 year old Christian Kackley have to report on his visit to the magnificent Hagia Sofia? Read on…

“10,000 workers, working from sunset to sundown, 6 days a week, and it still took 6 years to finish. Well, that’s what happens when you’re building a church with the largest dome in the world at the time. Actually it was the second largest dome but even now, 1500 years later, it is still the third largest in the world. The dome is pushing so much pressure down that buttresses were built to keep the church standing, otherwise it would have collapsed. Even so, the church is still moving, you can see it by the leaning pillars.

Mosaics cover every surface, beautiful, colorful, mosaics, with golden backgrounds. The Turks recognized their beauty when they captured the city and didn’t destroy the mosaics…they painted over them with colorful yet dull designs. The Turks also recognized the beauty of the massive dome…they decided that all mosques were to be built with a dome.

The massive pillars holding up the enormous dome are decorated with intricate carvings at the top. The largest pillars in the church are from the temple of Artemis. At the top of each pillar, in the middle of the intricate carving is the sign of the craftsman that carved that pillar. What is extraordinary about Hagia Sofia and all the intricate things is that they were made by normal people, carpenters, farmers, bakers, they weren’t skilled carvers.

There are no stairs in Hagia Sofia, this is because the empress wanted to be wheeled up to her balcony. SO in the 6th century the first handicap accessible building was built.The empress was of course very important so she had bodyguards. At one time her guards were Vikings, they didn’t have very good manners and drew on her stuff. So now on one of the balconies you can see Viking graffiti from the 1;th century carved into the handrails.

The Ottoman presence can be seen all over the church. One example is the 5 enourmous medallions with Arabic writings hanging around the church, completely out of place. Also more Arabic writing in the form of mosaics cover the face of Jesus on the top of the dome. A small building made by the Ottomans shows the direction of Mecca. The church almost faces Mecca but not quite so the building is at an angle inside of Hagia Sofia, looking odd inside of this amazing church.”



April 26, 2011

Top Ten Reasons: Turkey

The lunar landscape of Cappadocia

1) Maybe you’ve been to all the usual places… but Turkey is NOT a usual place. It’s full of more surprises than we can even tell you about.

2) History. World history was practically invented in Turkey. From the Roman emperor Constantine to the ruins of Ephesus, the Hagia Sophia to the Silk Road – so much of the world has happened in Turkey. And for so many years before you can even imagine…

3) Art. Such beautiful mosaics, tiles, carpets and pottery. The designs might make you swoon, and the chance to throw your own pot or weave some carpet? Really fun.

4) Hiking. Some of the world’s most compelling landscape is here in Turkey. The lunar feel of Cappadocia is a magical exploration, from cave dwellings to underground cities. Yes, underground cities. Like 8 stories deep.

5) Landscape. Not into hiking, but like breathtaking views? Come to Turkey. From the nightly glow of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul to the Valley of the Roses in Cappadocia to the lush Taurus Mountains, you’ll have plenty to appreciate.

6) Caravanserai. Ever wonder where those camel caravans traveling the Silk Road stopped to take a rest? Wait ’til you see.

7) Rumi. Whirling Dervishes, poetry and a shrine. Even the kids will be fascinated – and maybe you’ll share a poem or two on the way out

8) The Taurus Mountains. A beautiful drive through changing landscape, up to remote villages and the proud people who live there. Soccer anyone?

9) The Mediterranean. My kids will tell you about this slice of heaven…nights stretched out on deck with the lapping water soothing you to sleep under a star lit sky. Days exploring coastline and meadows, ruins and ghost towns. Wow.

10) Ephesus. Springing from the Dark Ages, Ephesus was the second largest city in the world in the first century BC. Can you even imagine how long ago that was?? Now the largest collection of Roman ruins in the Eastern Mediterranean, still only 15% of the site has been excavated.

Add to all of this, new friends. Any extraordinary experience will bond you with the people you share it with. Turkey is no exception. Come have some fun, in a deep and meaningful way, while Thomson Family Adventures takes care of all of the logistics and details and offers you a special guide to show you the way. Limited space still available for summer – call now!