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The island of Heybeliada off Istanbul

Heybeliada is the second largest of the Princes’ Islands located off Istanbul.Istanbul's Islands Spread over 2.7 km long and 1.2 km wide, it is a destination far less popular with the tourists than its neighbor Büyükada and still worth a visit.
The island is once known as Halki Demonisos. Like other islands of the archipelago, on Heybeliada Island all motorized vehicules are banned except municipal and police. Horses pulled carriages replaced them. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Dark Church in the Goreme Open Air museum

The Goreme Open Air Museum in Cappadocia which is classified as World Heritage by Unesco, is the main point of visiting this unique part of Turkey.
Upon opening, the site is invaded by thousands of tourists from around the world and if you are alone, it is better to come in mid-afternoon when the groups are gradually leaving the site.
The monastery contains an impressive number of chapels and churches, and a stunning beauty, Karanlik Kilise, “the Dark Church”. Read the rest of this entry »

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Cavusin, a beautiful village in Cappadocia

The village of Çavuşin is worth a look. It is just 2 miles north of Göreme, the most famous tourist attraction in Cappadocia.
It is easy to get there is by taking the main road from Göreme to Avanos, or to hike along Güllüdere Vadisi “Rose Valley”, a pleasant path parallel to the main road. Read the rest of this entry »

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St. Stephen of the Bulgars in Istanbul, a church completely of iron

Amazing Church of St. Stephen of the Bulgars is in the district of Fener, situated on the Golden Horn in Istanbul.
In 1849, the Bulgarian Orthodox community of Istanbul, attached to the Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, demanded independence and the right to create its own church from the authorities.
Prince Stephan Bogoridi, a senior official of Bulgarian origin settled in Istanbul, offers his property to his countrymen on the banks of the Golden Horn. The first floor of the wooden house is transformed into a chapel inaugurated in 1849 and became a small church. Read the rest of this entry »

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Şakirin mosque in Üsküdar, only Turkish mosque decorated by a woman

Sakirin Mosque

In the district of Üsküdar located on the Asian side of Istanbul, among the countless mosques dating from the Ottoman Empire era, Şakirin mosque has opened May 8, 2009.

It cuts drastically with all other religious buildings that have been accustomed to see in Turkey and for a good reason. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Mevlâna Museum in Konya

The city of Konya is located in the heart of Central Anatolia. RumiIt is a very popular place of pilgrimage since it houses the tomb of Mevlâna, one of the greatest Sufi thinkers of all time. Celal ed-Din Rumi, better known under the name Mevlâna, , renowned theologian born in 1207, on request of the Seljuk Sultan Alaeedin Keykubad I, comes to live with his father in Konya. The meeting of Rumi, nickname Mevlâna with Şems’i Tebrizi, Iranian dervish, will transform his life spiritually as he dedicated his energies to divine love through writing and the ritual of the sema, the dance of the whirling dervishes. Read the rest of this entry »

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World’s best festivals: Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling

Pehlivans

Oil wrestlers Flickr photo by Ceyhan Molla

Lonely Planet listed Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Festival as one of the World’s Best Festivals in June – July.

Location: Kirkpinar, Edirne, Turkey

Dates: late June–early July

Level of participation: 1 – watch the slippery Goliaths grapple

During the early, expansionist days of the Ottoman empire, the military commander Süleyman Pasa would let his soldiers unwind between warfare by wrestling. On one memorable occasion, 40 men scuffled at once. The two fiercest fighters grappled past midnight and until both died of exhaustion. When the remaining army had conquered Edirne, the victors referred to the 40 soldiers in the name of Kirkpinar, where the wrestling competition still takes place.

It’s unclear whether olive oil was used in the Ottoman era, but it certainly is today. Over 100 drums of oil are used during the three-day tournament, starting with an opening ceremony where the contestants, some just children, get greased up.

The idea is to prevent your foe from getting a good grip. Circulating the stadium between 20 grunting, glistening showdowns, the attendants with extra oil prove popular. This is no-holds-barred wrestling, where a contestant might grab his opponent’s testicles. With a 14-carat gold belt awarded to the bas pehlivan (head wrestler), there’s everything to play for.

However, in remembrance of the brotherhood shared by the original 40 wrestlers, participants are marked on the manners they show their oily opposite number. If a winner has not emerged after 30 minutes, a ‘sudden death’ round ensues.

Local attractions: Kirkpinar Museum contains wrestling relics such as tote bags, clay oil jugs and gold belts.

More info: www.kirkpinar.com

via Lonely Planet

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