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Captain’s Log: Istanbul

Our day started early as we made our way towards the pilot station of Canakkale, the southern entrance for the Dardanelle strait for 0600. The passage through the busy shipping lane took us 2.5 hours before we disembarked our pilot at the northern end, at Gelibolu and thus entered the Sea of Marmara. Our pilot embark for Istanbul was timed for 1400, however, although we were on time, the pilot was late, so we progressed slowly north, into the Bosphorous, making for our berth, when the pilot appeared 20 minutes later.

Once berthed, our guests were ashore to enjoy the uniqueness of this exciting and vibrant city. The call to prayers for the faithful resounded from the minarets, (they have to use loudspeaker systems, I could hear them quite distinctly and we are over a mile away from the nearest). The city (also once known as Byzantium and then Constantinople), was founded by the Greeks, then the Romans took over, who made it the eastern capital of the Roman Empire and finally by the Ottoman Empire. Sultan Mehmed II “the Conqueror” captured Constantinople after a siege and declared it the new capital of the Ottoman Empire. Hours after the capture, the sultan rode to the Hagia Sofia and summoned an imam to proclaim the Islamic creed, converting the grand cathedral into an imperial mosque.

Here is one of my favourite ‘night’ shots:

To the left is the Topkapi palace, home of the Ottoman Sultans from 1465 to 1860. It contains some of the holiest relics of the Muslim world, such as the Prophet Muhammed’s cloak and sword.

In the middle is St. Sofia, or Hagia Sofia, from 360 to 1453 it was a cathedral, from 1453 to 1934 a Mosque and from 1935 a museum.

Then right of that are the dome and minarets of the Blue Mosque, one of the most beautiful in the world and one of the few to have 6 minarets. Started in 1609, it took 7 years to build.

Captain Jonathan

Jonathan Mercer is Nieuw Amsterdam’s captain.

1 Comment
  • Sara

    Thank you, Captain Mercer. I am enjoying your blog entries so much!

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