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I took this shot a few years ago of the Savarona, Ataturk’s former yacht, at anchor in Instanbul.P1010027

Near the Golden Horn and North through the Strait, toward the Black Sea.

Nearby the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul is a deep underground structure the size of a Wal-Mart, the Basilica Cistern, that built in the 6th century under the Byzantine Emperor Justinian, where one can have lunch where once 7 thousand slaves labored to provide a safe place to store cool, fresh water for the Great Palace of Constantinople, fed via 2 aqueducts from forest streams outside the city. With a capacity of nearly 3 million cubic feet of water, the cistern’s walls are 13 feet thick and the vaulted roofs are supported by 336 30-foot high columns, brought from throughout the country and a few, like the two columns with sideways and upside-down Medusa sculptures, are thought to be from Roman ruins near the site. The cistern was once traversed by tourists in boats, but today a network of raised walks enabled those who find it to wander through the hauntingly lit columns. The cistern has been repeatedly repaired through the centuries, and was last used to supply water to the Topkapi Palace, but today only a few feet of water remain. Two contemporary films have used the cistern as a setting, From Russia with Love in 1963 and The International in 2009. It’s a nice place to cool off anfter a tough day of shopping in the bazar. .

In the Bosporus (or Bosphorus) Straits connecting the Black Sea on the North with the Sea of Marmara, the Dardanelles and hence the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean on the South, the Rumelian Castle (pictured in my previous post), built by the Ottoman Pashas in the early 1440s, was part of their plot to isolate Constantinople, before retaking it from the Christians in 1453. The Rumelian castle is located near the mid-point of the Bosporus on the Western European side and another similar castle was constructed for the same purpose across from it on the Asian side.
The 3 towers of the Rumelian were each named for one of the Pashas who invested in the castle, which was built in just over 4 months, a schedule those reconstructing the site of New York’s Word Trade Center could surely not comprehend.

When Vicki and I cruised the Bosporus in fall of 2009, some 55,000 ships a year were making a toll-free passage through the Bosporus, something the Pashas would have abhorred, many of them transporting Russian oil.

The Motor Yacht Savaronna, anchored in the Bosporus of Istanbul, is now owned by the Turkish government and was once the yacht of Kamal Ataturk, the George Washington of Turkey. At 408 feet once the world’s largest yacht, it was built in 1931 for Emily Roebling Cadwallader, daughter of the engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Istanbul, Turkey

Harbor at Bodrum, Turkey

January 2023

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