Lake Tuz, Turkey

Back on the bus moving south and east of Ankara, the country’s capital - glancing out my window I noticed an interesting spectacle. A very white lake. I knew it wasn’t ice coving the lake as it was warm outside so wondered if this could be a salt lake.
Lake Tuz (Tuz Gölü) meaning Salt Lake, Turkey is about 150 kms south-east of Ankara in central Anatolia. It is Turkey’s second or third largest lake and one of the largest hypersaline lakes in the world. This lake, measuring 50 km wide by 80 km long, (31 x 50 miles) is fed by two streams but has no outlet. For most of the year, this lake is extremely shallow measuring only about .4m in depth. 
Lake Tuz is also a protected region for several types of bird species, one of which is the greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus). Would have loved to have seen the birds however we didn’t during our short stopover here.Lake Tuz_03439.jpg

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Lake Tuz_03442.jpgAs we neared the lake, I noticed people walking on the salty surface. And yes, we would be stopping as well for a break and a walk on the lake.Lake Tuz_03443.jpgA closer look at the salt on the lake.Lake Tuz_IMG_5190.jpg

Lake Tuz_IMG_5192.jpgA view from the lake glancing back towards the road we had just arrived here on.Lake Tuz_03447.jpgThree companies on the lake that mine the salt produce 60+% of the salt that’s consumed in Turkey.Lake Tuz_03455.jpg

Lake Tuz_03456.jpgBack on the bus and heading south-east. More Lake Tuz scenes from the window.Lake Tuz_03457.jpg

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Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara

Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara - often referred to Turkey’s most outstanding museum occupies two renovated Ottoman-era buildings (a bazaar warehouse built in the 15th century) in the Atpazari district of the city. Housed in this museum are displays of the achievements of Anatolia’s many diverse cultures. As posted on a plaque near the entrance, Ankara’s Museum of Anatolia Civilizations also won the 1997 European Museum of the Year award.Museum of Anatolia Civilizations_IMG_5141.jpgThe exhibits are laid out in chronological order starting with the Paleolithic age and continuing to the Ottoman period.Museum Anatolia Civilizations_IMG_5142.jpg

Museum of Anatolia Civilizations_IMG_5142.jpgI was fascinated by the cave drawings/paintings on display. Museum of Anatolia Civilizations_IMG_5144.jpgMother Goddess supported by two felines - this statue is approx. 20 cm in height - found at Çatalhöyük; first half of 6th millennium BC.Museum Anatolia Civilizations_IMG_5146.jpgBesides all the amazing displays, I couldn’t help but notice some great ceiling detail!Museum Anatolia Civilization_IMG_5148.jpg

Museum Anatolia Civilizations_IMG_5149.jpgThis 2.25m high limestone relief represents the figure of a warrior god from the Kings Gate in Hattusas which was the capital of the Hittite empire from 2000 to 1180 BC. A replica now stands in its place at the actual gate in Hattusas.Museum Anatolia Civilizations_IMG_5153.jpg

Museum Anatolia Civilizations_IMG_5155.jpgMore great architectural details in soothing colours.Museum Anatolia Civilizations_IMG_5167.jpg

MuseumAnatoliaCivilizations.jpgBas-reliefs from ancient times.Museum Anatolia Civilizations_IMG_5157.jpg

Museum Anatolia Civilizations_IMG_5164.jpgMore ancient treasures as seen in the Museum.Museum Anaatolia Civilizations_IMG_5168.jpg

Museum Anatolia Civilizations_IMG_5169.jpgLeaving the museum, we spent some time walking around in the gardens surrounding it. Filled with statues and other ancient artifacts, the garden was a quiet and peaceful place. 

Inscriptions on Roman road markers (looked like large columns) displayed in the exterior courtyard/garden area of the museum.Museum of Anatolian Civilizations_IMG_5182.jpg

Museum Anatolia Civilizations_IMG_5182.jpgVarious statues as seen in the gardens surrounding the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations.Museum of Anatolian Civilizations_03427.jpg

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Atatürk Mausoleum in Ankara

Ankara, Turkey - Visiting Anit Kabir - the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (1881-1938) who was the leader of the Turkish War of Independence. This led to the country’s liberation and the establishment of modern Turkey. He was also the founder and the first President of the Republic of Turkey.  The site for Anitkabir is located on Observation Hill (Rasattepe) - a hill to the west of the city of Ankara. Construction first began in 1944 and was completed in 1953.
The view from the Ceremonial Plaza looking toward Anitkabir and the Hall of Honour. An extensive museum lies to the right of this hall.Ataturk Mausoleum_IMG_5100.jpgReliefs depict battle scenes of the War of Independence.Ataturk Mausoleum_IMG_5101.jpg


Ataturk Mausoleum_IMG_5112.jpgLarge plaque with Ataturk quotes inside the Hall of Honour.Ataturk Mausoleum_IMG_5106.jpgThe marble-lined Hall of Honour - housing Ataturk’s tomb - visitors take photos while surrounding the symbolic 40-ton marble cenotaph of Ataturk’s tomb. The actual tomb is located in a chamber below.Ataturk Mausoleum_IMG_5105.jpg

Ataturk Mausoleum_IMG_5104.jpgA view of the Ceremonial Plaza and the towers and arcades that surround it.Ataturk Mausoleum_IMG_5109.jpgLooking towards the entrance to the Ataturk Mausoleum known as the Road of Lions. Twelve pairs of lions line this 262m pathway (lions are the Hitite symbols of power used to represent the strength of the Turkish nation.)Ataturk Mausoleum_IMG_5114.jpg

Ataturk Mausoleum_IMG_5115.jpgRepresenting the pride of Turkish women - a trio of Turkish Women statues made of white travertine in front of the Independence Tower at the entrance of the Road of Lions. In the hands of the women on either side are sheafs of grain which are to represent the abundant country. The woman on the left also holds out her hand with a cup - asking for Allah’s blessing on Ataturk while the woman in the centre covers her face as she cries.Ataturk Mausoleum_IMG_5117.jpg

Ataturk Mausoleum_IMG_5118.jpgRepresenting the pride of Turkish men - three Turkish men statues also made of white travertine at the entrance of Road of Lions in front of the Freedom Tower. On the left is a Turkish youth and intellectual, next is a Turkish peasant and on the right is a statue representing a Turkish soldier.Ataturk Mausoleum_IMG_5121.jpg

Ataturk Mausoleum_IMG_5122.jpgThe beautiful arcades and reliefs surrounding the courtyard.Ataturk Mausoleum_IMG_5126.jpg

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Ataturk Mausoleum_03387.jpgAs we conclude our visit to the Ataturk Mausoleum, we cross the Ceremonial Plaza to the tomb of Turkey’s second President, Ismet Inonu (1884 - 1973) which faces the mausoleum.Ismet Inonu_Ankara_IMG_5134.jpg

Ismet Inonu_IMG_5134.jpgOff to the museum.

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Heading out into the Turkish countryside!

Leaving Istanbul now and heading east with the bus towards Ankara, the country’s capital in the western Anatolia region. Most fellow travellers are sleeping but I can never seem to sleep while travelling. What if I were to miss something interesting!

Views from the bus window! Leaving Istanbul - crossing over the Bosphorus Bridge.Turkey_03328.jpg



Half hour out of Istanbul. Shipping ports along the Sea of Marmara.Turkey_03337.jpg




Turkey_03342.jpgAn hour+ out from Istanbul. Forgot to note where this was but quite sure this is the city of Izmit (a city devestated by a major earthquake in 1999). So much construction in this country!Turkey_03344.jpgTwo hours out of Istanbul. Beautiful low mountains. Gorgeous scenery.Turkey_03345.jpgFour and a half hours out from Istanbul.Turkey_03347.jpg

Turkey_03348.jpgFive hours away from Istanbul. Such a variety of scenery. Camlidere Dam.Turkey_03351.jpg


Turkey_03358.jpgSmall Turkish village nearing Ankara.Turkey_03361.jpgOff to Ankara next.

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Beautiful Sultanahmet

Istanbul - The Sultanahmet district is the heart of historic Old Istanbul.  So much to see here - will need to come back some day to spend more time here. This is a view from the Spice Market.Istanbul_IMG_5088.jpgHeading off now to central Turkey for more sights to see!

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Out and about in Istanbul

A few scenes while out and about in Istanbul.

The beautiful sight of the everyday activity of fishing off bridges in Istanbul.Istanbul_Fishing_03099.jpgTurkish bagels (simit) are crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.YUM.  Often times the bagels are covered in toasted sesame with that tiny hint of molasses. I’ve heard the locals eat smit (bagel) with feta cheese, olive oil and Turkish tea for breakfast, lunch or dinner. That sounds like the perfect trio!  You can find simit at almost every street corner, sold by street vendors in Istanbul and towns around Turkey!Istanbul_03101.jpg


Istanbul_bagels_C04621.jpgStreet vendor selling roasted chestnuts (kestane kebab). Inexpensive finger food - texture like a baked potatoe with a sweet, nutty flavour.Istanbul_Chestnuts_IMG_4990.jpgDelicious watermelon. Always a treat while walking around Istanbul.Istanbul_IMG_4995.jpgDelicious pomegranate juice - straight up or with orange juice added. Either way - very tasty! Always a line-up at these vendors.Istanbul_IMG_4854.jpg



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A closer look at the Spice Bazaar, Istanbul

Istanbul - A closer look at the amazing Spice Bazaar and street stalls nearby.

I can’t believe how delicious these figs look!Spice Bazaar_Figs_IMG_5067.jpgFresh walnutsSpice Bazaar Walnuts_IMG_5066.jpgTasty Turkish apricots and dates.Spice Bazaar_dried fruits_IMG_5068.jpgCheeseSpice Bazaar_Cheese_IMG_5069.jpgNuts, nuts and more nuts.Spice Market_Istanbul_C03295.jpg

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Sun-dried tomatoesSpice Bazaar_Istanbul_IMG_5079.jpgAssortment of sweetsSpice Bazaar_sweets_03303.jpgTasty Turkish Delight at Hazar Baba’s (of course I bought some to take home!)Spice Bazaar_Pistacio_04627.jpgAmazing aroma of tea mixes at Hazar Baba’s stall.Spice Bazaar_04630.jpgFresh fish standsSpice Bazaar_fish_IMG_5083.jpg

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Spice Bazaar_Istanbul_03310.jpgSo much market to see, not enough time! Want to go back!

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Spice Bazaar, Istanbul

I LOVE markets and visiting the Spice Market (Egyptian Bazaar) in Istanbul, Turkey was no different.  Dating back to the 17th century, this amazing market is a photographers and souvenier-hunters dream! The Spice Market was originally built in the mid-1600’s as part of the Yeni Mosque (The New Mosque of Mother Sultan), a classical, traditional-style Ottoman mosque located adjacent - the bazaar revenues once helped maintain the mosque.

View of the large square in front of the New Mosque and the Spice Bazaar.
Spice Bazaar_Istanbul_IMG_5061.jpgThe market was super crowded with locals and tourists alike, shopping for daily groceries and vacation souveniers. 

The Spice Market is a large L-shaped structure. Narrow streets next to the market extend that crowded market atmosphere and truly encapsulate that old Istanbul feel. There was so much energy and commotion - I loved this place! I highly recommend a visit here.

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Spice Bazaar_IMG_5064.jpgBeautiful vegetables, fruits and nuts at this stall near the Spice Bazaar with roasted meats next door.Spice Bazaar_Istanbul_IMG_5065.jpg

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Spice Bazaar_Istanbul_IMG_5067.jpgScenes from the Spice Market and street stalls nearby. Delicious cheese at this stand.Spice Bazaar_Istanbul_IMG_5069.jpg

Spice Bazaar_Istanbul_IMG_5082.jpgOne of the many spice stands.Spice Market_Istanbul_IMG_5070.jpg

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Spice Market_Istanbul_IMG_5071.jpgNot sure but I think this is carob beans.Spice Bazaar_Istanbul_IMG_5076.jpgDried fruits and nuts at many stalls.
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Spice Bazaar_Istanbul_IMG_5075.jpgGorgeous sundried tomatoes. Spice Bazaar_sundried tomatos_IMG_5079.jpgFantastic tea aroma!Spice Bazaar_Istanbul_IMG_5080.jpgMore nuts and fruits.Spice Bazaar_Istanbul_03300.jpg

Spice Bazaar_Istanbul_03301.jpgWe found the sweets!Spice Bazaar_Istanbul_03302.jpg

Spice Bazaar_Istanbul_03303.jpgAnd not to miss - the fresh fish market!Spice Bazaar_Istanbul_03304.jpg

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Spice Bazaar_Istanbul_IMG_5083.jpgYum - olives!Spice Bazaar_Istanbul_IMG_5086.jpg

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Spice Bazaar_Istanbul_03308.jpgAnd my favorite - Hazer Baba Turkish Delight. You must stop here!Spice Bazaar_Hazer Baba_04628.jpgAnd my absolute favorite - the Kakaolu Duble Lokum - the Cocoa Double Delight. Two kgs. to go, please. Spice Bazaar_Istanbul_04627.jpgA huge selection of tea mixes are available at Hazar Baba’s stall. Mixes with hibiscus, pomegranate, ginger, rose - the aroma was amazing!Spice Bazaar_Istanbul_04630.jpg

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Topkapi Palace, Istanbul

Topkapi Palace was once the official residence of the sultans for almost 400 years. Between 1459 and 1465, shortly after his conquest of Constantinople, Mehmet II built Topkapi Palace as his primary residence. Initially this palace also served as the seat of government but in the 16th century the goverment was moved to Sublime Porte. In 1924, Topkapi Palace was opened to the public as a museum.

It’s located on a hilly, wooded promontory above that which is the meeting point of the Golden Horn, the Sea of Marmara and the Bosphorus - no doubt, a natural strategic position. 
Topkapi Palace is a sprawling museum consisting of four parts - the first(outer) court, second (inner) court, third court (the sultan’s private domain) and the fourth court (the Tulip Garden).  Within the First Court there is a public park (Gülhane Park), once a rose garden and now a wooded, shaded park for locals and visitors alike. Also within the outer courtyard (First Court) is the Imperial Mint (a museum housing exhibits on Istanbul’s historical background), the Archaeological Museum (housing some of the world’s greatest collections of antiquities) and Hagia Eirene, a Byzantine church dating from the 6th century. It has never been converted into a mosque.

Hagia Eirene, a Byzantine church is located just inside the Imperial Gate in the First Courtyard of Topkapi. Today the building is used as the setting for concerts (such as the Istanbul Music Festival) because of its great acoustics.   Hagia Eirene at Topkapi_IMG_5000.jpg

As we walk through the outer courtyard, we arrive at the Gate of Salutations also known as the Middle Gate: the entrance to the palace. This gate dates back to the mid 16th-century when the towers were used as defence as well as decoration. Notice the slits for archers. As visitors now pass through security and ticket control, you glance up at the ornate decor on the underside of the eave. Salutation Gate_Topkapi Palace_IMG_5001.jpg

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Passing through the Gate of Salutations brings you to the palace complex, the Second Court. Walking through the grassy and treed area brings us our first stop - the Divan, the Imperial Council Chambers of the viziers (ministers). This was where the Ottoman Empire was governed for almost 400 years.
Shown are two of the three gates into the Divan.

Divan_Topkapi Palace_C03261.jpgOne of the entrances into the Divan with its ornate decoration.Divan_Topkapi Palace_IMG_5007.jpgA closer look at the Divan and Tower of Justice.Divan and tower_Topkapi Palace_IMG_5003.jpg

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Divan_Topkapi Palace_IMG_5005.jpgThe Imperial Divan (council) met in this ornately decorated Imperial Council Chamber to discuss matters of the government. Note the grille high above the red seating area. The sultan could eavesdrop through this grille at the base of the Tower of Justice in the Harem next door.Divan_Topkapi Palace_IMG_5017.jpgA closer look at the grille from where the sultan could eavesdrop on the proceedings in the council chamber.Divan_Topkapi Palace_IMG_5010.jpgSpectacular decor in the Imperial Council Chamber.Divan_Topkapi Palace_IMG_5015.jpg

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Divan_Topkapi Palace_IMG_5011.jpgLeaving the Divan, we visited the Inner Treasury - an exhibition of arms and armoury - although interesting, no photos were allowed to be taken. 

From there we made our way to the Gate of Felicity (the Gate of the White Eunuchs) which took us into the Third Court - the sultan’s private domain. Here are housed the Audience Chamber, various exhibitions now housing rich collections of imperial robes and uniforms as well as the Treasury - an incredible collection of jewel-encrusted items amongst many other precious objects. Again, no photos allowed.

Also housed in the Third Court is the multidomed Library of Ahmet III built in 1719. Here is a look at the ornamental fountain set into the wall below the main entrance of the Library facing yet another gorgeous courtyard.Fountain_Library of Ahmet III_C03278.jpgRoses bloom next to the side wall of the Library.Library of Ahmet III_IMG_5028.jpgFrom the Third Court, we entered into the Fourth Courtyard - a series of gardens dotted with pavilions such as the Circumcision Pavilion and the Baghdad Pavilion, both of which we missed seeing due to time constrants.

One structure on the furthest northest corner is the Konyali Restaurant with an amazing viewing deck from which one can see the Sea of Marmara and the Bosphorus.

Spectacular views of the Sea of Marmara from the Fourth Courtyard at Topkapi Palace. Istanbul_IMG_5037.jpgThe Istanbul Cevre Yolu Bridge spans the Bosphorus - Istanbul (the European side on the left to the Asian side on the right).istanbul cevre yolu bridge_IMG_5041.jpgUnfortunately we were limited timewise to see all of Topkapi Palace and one of the areas we missed out on seeing was the Harem among many other sites. Although we spend 2.5 hours at Topkapi, it is not enough time to see all of this expansive museum. I guess this means another trip to Turkey sometime in the future to spend more time discovering Istanbul and all it has to offer (as well as another trip to Topkapi Palace!).

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Colours of Turkey

Colours of Turkey.jpgAnd now… a closer look to these amazing art forms and their vast array of colours.

Ceiling Medallion - as seen at the Topkapi Palace, Istanbul in the Imperial Council Hall.Istanbul Ceiling Medallion.jpgHand-painted pottery as seen at Fırça El Sanatları Merkezi.Nevsehir, Turkey.Painted Plate.jpgOttoman Tile from the 15th-18th Century - Iznik as seen at the Antalya Museum in Turkey’s capital, Antalya.Ottoman Tiles.jpgHand-woven rug from the late 19th century  - from the Bergama region of north-western Turkey -  as seen displayed at the Antalya Museum in Antalya, Turkey.Turkish Rug.jpgGorgeous mosaic as seen at the Aphrodisias Museum, an archaeological museum in Karacasu, Aydın Province, Turkey.Turkish Mosaics.jpg

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Welcome to my travel photo blog. Photography has been a part of my life for a long time – back in the day the Pentax Super Program was always near at hand. But it wasn’t until I started travelling around the world that photography became a vehicle for me to show others about the absolutely amazing and complex world we live in. My hope is to share with you glimpses of what I’ve seen. Enjoy!