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June 2013

Turkish Sweet Tooth: Baklava, Lokum and Dondurma

After a couple months in Istanbul, I started avoiding my reflection. But one morning, I accidentally caught a glimpse. Yep, a little chubbier than normal. And I was thrilled! Considering the rate at which I had been shoveling Istanbul’s infamous sweets into my honey-smeared mouth, “a little chubbier than normal” was perfectly acceptable.

The Süleymaniye Complex

The Süleymaniye Mosque might not be as popular as the Blue Mosque, but it’s arguably more impressive. This massive complex near the university was built for Süleyman the Magnificent and includes a library, a soup kitchen, an amazing courtyard, and the tombs of both Süleyman and his famous wife Roxelana.

Hidden Corners Behind the Grand Bazaar

Istanbul is the kind of place which favors bold exploration, as we learned after a day spent in the maze of streets around the Grand Bazaar. The city is filled with quiet, secret spots… if you can muster up the courage to go down that darkened hall, into that empty courtyard, or up those crumbling stairs.

An Introduction to Turkish Marbling

Marbling, or ebru, is one of the most popular forms of Turkish art. We decided to introduce ourselves to the technique, and joined a workshop offered by Les Arts Turcs in Sultanahmet. By the end of the entertaining session, we had managed to create a few minor masterpieces.

Muradiye, Çekirge and Random Bursa Pics

Bursa is stretched out along the base of Mount Uludağ, and so its main sights are laid out on a long, almost straight line. The Yeşil Camii to the east, Gazi Park in the center, and the wonderful neighborhood of Muradiye to the west. Even further east is Çekirge, home to the city’s famous thermal spas.

The Karagöz Puppets of Bursa

Karagöz shadow puppetry, one of Turkey’s most distinctive art forms, was born in Bursa. And the city is still the best place in the world to catch a regular performance. It might be the only such place. Every day, the Karagöz Museum puts on shows starring the puppets which have kept Turkey in stitches for hundreds of years.

Gazi Park and Bursa’s Covered Market

Squeezed between two amazing mosques and the covered market, Gazi Park is the heart of Bursa, and was the logical place to begin our exploration of the city.

The Green Mosque

The neighborhood of Yeşil (Green), separated from the city center by the Gök Dere river, takes its name from Bursa’s most well-known sights: the Green Mosque and Tomb. Visible from across Bursa, the mausoleum sits atop a hill and is covered in monochrome tiles of a unique light-green color.

An Excursion to Bursa

Bursa is Turkey’s fourth-largest city, and was capital of the Ottoman Empire a hundred years before Constantinople had even been conquered. It makes for a great excursion from Istanbul, almost directly across the Sea of Marmara.

SALT and the Ottoman Bank Museum

Established in 1856, the Ottoman Bank was a part of a comprehensive effort to modernize the flagging Ottoman Empire. Today, its former headquarters in Galata is home to SALT: a non-profit organization dedicated to art, architecture and urbanism.

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