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Discovering Cyprus

Last time Cyprus was featured it was all about a divided island. Though the political situation is complicated for sure, I recommend to visit both parts of the island. So I won’t differentiate between the Turkish and the Greek parts in the following gallery. The pictures 5, 6 and 7 need some background: After the Ottoman conquest of Cyprus former Gothic Cathedrals were converted into Mosques. Interestingly some where not destroyed and just minor changes were made (like the destruction of angel figures due to the ban of images in Islam) and the altar was displaced within the church, so the believers would be able to pray in the direction of Mekka. According to Ottoman traditions the former Cathedrals were equipped with carpets and the inner church was painted white. Though inside as well as outside you still see the Christian heritage. The clean and bright style of Islamic religious decoration combined with the dark and serious Gothic style makes for a thouroghly fascinating combination.

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Oriental Discoveries – Istanbul in 2015 Pt. II

Situated both on the European and on the Asian continent, Istanbul is the entry gate to the Orient, yet at the same time it is also the last major European city in the southeast. Istanbul, or Konstantinopel, how it was called before the Ottoman conquest, has always been a metropole. Today roughly 15 Million people call it their home. The vast sea of houses is divided by the Bosporus, a water way connecting the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. It is one of the busiest waterways in the world. Not far away – on the European site – grand mosques arise, built over the centuries by Ottoman rulers to show of their power.  They are majestic indeed, rich decorated with Islamic ornaments and beautiful interiors. Between the mosques you will find the Grand Bazar, a covered bazar consisting of 61 streets and many thousand shops. In Istanbul everything seems grander than usual.

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A Sea of Minarets – Istanbul in 2015 Pt I.

From historical to contemporary times the city of Istanbul has always been a meeting point of cultures, marking the border between Europe and the Islamic world. In geographical terms the border is clearly defined, it is the Bosporus strait. But not just since the opening of the first Metro line beneath the Bosporus – the Marmaray in 2013 – the cultural borders are not so clear anymore. While some districts like Galata are defined by modern shops, night clubs and skating kids with headphones, other are way more traditional and religious. Despite the stark contrasts, there are no obvious tensions. Also Istanbul is a very welcoming place for travelers, receiving guests with open arms. Just beware of the merchants in the Grand Basar and do not believe every fairy story they tell, regardless of the oriental charm of the bargainer.

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A Walk along the Tejo

Most people know that Lisbon is situated on the shore of the Atlantic ocean, not so widely known though is the fact that the longest river of the Iberian peninsula is floating through the city (well, technically on the side of it). While definitely not a recommandable place to take a swim, a walk at the Tejo (or Tajo as the Spanish say) has it’s merits – particularly for enthusiasts of modern architecture. The Vasco da Gama tower (1,10, last picture) being a prime example. But the most interesting sight, majestic and intriguing at the same time, is the Vasco da Gama bridge (2, 6, 8, 9, 11, 14) . Spanning over 17 km it is the longest bridge of Europe. The slight couverture of the structure allows for interesting photographic angles. I’ll invite you for a walk.

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