Detail of the Sultanahmet Mosque, or Blue Mosque, in Istanbul.
Here’s a selection of shots from a recent trip to Jerusalem, featuring Christian, Muslim and Jewish sites, mostly focused around or viewed from the Mount of Olives. In future posts I’ll try to put up some shots from the Wailing Wall (or Western Wall) of the Temple Mount, as well as some of my best attempts at street photography from one afternoon in the city. Enjoy!
The deserted, rock-cut village now called Açıksaray (Open Palace) is a fascinating place to explore, in my opinion one of the more interesting and relaxing in Cappadocia, and made more so by the small number of visitors. When we were there in October, we found probably about eight people besides ourselves in the entire site. The village, just outside the Turkish town of Gülşehir, dates to the 10th or 11th century and covers about a square kilometer, containing chapels, kitchens, mushroom-shaped rock formations, and dwellings, probably for monks. This is the facade of the largest complex.
This picture was taken from within the Dominus Flevit chapel on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, commemorating the site where Jesus is said to have wept over Jerusalem, and gives a pretty good ecumenical overview of the city that is central to the three great monotheistic world religions. The cross silhouette visible in the window latticework in the foreground gives way to Jewish graveyards at the base of the east wall of the temple mount, where Jewish belief expects the Messiah to one day enter the city. Behind these rise the shining domes of the temple mount’s current occupant: the architectural marvel of Islam’s Dome of the Rock.
This hatter in Ankara, like basically every other shopkeeper in Turkey, is a proud Kemal Ataturk fan. I guess that’s not enough to keep him from displaying an Ottoman-style fez, outlawed at one point by the great reformer of modern Turkey. At least it’s red so it matches the Turkish flag inside the shop, and as a photographer I appreciate that.
I like this one a lot for some reason. I think the color of the car works well with the green in the grass, and meanwhile the hill and the houses make for a nice composition together. This is Safranbolu again, still in the old town, with these houses providing an example of what the 18th and 19th century Ottoman architecture looks like when it hasn’t been restored.
Thought it was about time for another door. This one appeared almost directly across the street as I set out for a morning walk on a cold foggy day in Safranbolu. The town, in northern Turkey, is perhaps the most comprehensive preserved example of traditional Ottoman architecture, with nearly all structures in the old part of town dating back 100-600 years, and many of the houses well restored.
Here’s a candid shot captured at the old citadel on the peak of the hill in the center of Ankara. Turkish tourists like the one balancing on this wall come from around the country to take pictures from the top of the city with their cell phones and video cameras. Foreign tourists are less common and more likely to stay off the top of the wall, especially given the wind and total lack of any device to prevent falling some 50 or 60 feet into the castle streets below. Maintenance workers like the guy at the bottom of the picture have pretty much seen it all before.
For an American like me, this is always one of the most remarkable aspects of living in Turkey: historic places or items are always around the corner, and people walk past them, sit on them or build with them as if they were nothing out of the ordinary at all. Wandering through a village, I once saw a house made of large stones found when clearing fields – unremarkable except for the cornerstone, a piece of marble expertly carved with four or five figures in Roman garb, accompanied by an inscription in Latin, upside down and without their heads, secured by straw and mud to the rest of the structure. The walls in this picture are probably only centuries old, but they are built on a site that dates back to well before Christ. To the sweeper picking his teeth in the picture, what difference does it make? When it comes right down to it, isn’t all the world as old as the hills?