It is a busy time at the Sultanahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque) in Istanbul. People gather outside its walls each night to break the fast with friends and family. Ramadan is soon coming to a close. Meanwhile, this man has a lot of square footage to cover. Back and forth he goes over the crimson carpets in the mosque with his household vacuum.
Photo and text graciously submitted by Peter Speiser
Beneath the first hill of Istanbul lies the Basilica Cistern. During our reporting trip to Turkey last summer, we visited these extraordinary caverns built by the Byzantine emperor Justinian in 532.
Arranged in 12 rows, 336 columns from ruined structures support the massive cistern. Two of the columns supported by upside-down Medusa heads (pictured above) are tucked-away in one of the corners. The cistern supplied a massive amount of water to a palace and surrounding buildings via aqueducts for hundreds of years. But then the cistern was forgotten. As Lonely Planet explains:
"Enter scholar Petrus Gyllius, who was researching Byzantine antiquities in 1545 and was told by locals that they could obtain water by lowering buckets in their basement floors. Some were even catching fish this way. Intrigued, Gyllius explored the neighbourhood and discovered a house through whose basement he accessed the cistern. Even after his discovery, the Ottomans (who referred to the cistern as Yerebatan Sarayı) didn’t treat the underground palace with the respect it deserved and it became a dumping ground for all sorts of junk, as well as corpses. It has been restored at least three times.
It’s a treasure not to be missed.
Photo by Nikolai Vassiliev/Flickr, cc by-nc-nd 2.0)
~Trent Gilliss, senior editor
It seems to me that while other cities may be mortal, this one will remain as long as there are men on earth.
Sultan Ahmet Mosque, Istanbul
by Trent Gilliss, senior editor
Turkey is most definitely on our brains. As it turns out, we’ll be making a production trip in June (yay!) and so the extensive planning begins. What to do, what to do! No sooner did we find out than our old friend and former guest Omid Safi posted this magnificent photograph on his Facebook page along with this waxing caption:
"Inside sacred sites like this, I know it’s true that ‘God is beautiful, and loves beauty.’ The imaginative Muslim architects who designed it emulated Christian Byzantine masters, and strived to create a space that would stand free from columns. The "opening" that was created inside, the Christians and the Muslims agreed together, was to be filled by the very presence of God. By God, they succeeded."
If you have suggestions on stories we might cover that fit our mission or voices that you think we ought to expose to a North American audience, please offer your suggestions in the comments section. Enjoy the view!