For hundreds of years, all roads, east to west and north to south, led and came forth from Constantinople. The worlds greatest, and most dangerous, journey had its deepest roots at the heart of this city.
Imagine yourself in the center of trade and commerce for the medieval world. Grand bazaars line ornate buildings, with intermingling peoples from lands near and far. Merchants trade highly coveted items from continents across. Citizens interact with foreigners from exotic lands. Also envision this; the intersection of Europe and Asia, west and east, straddles the city, linking together two land masses set apart in thought and religion. No other city can lay this claim. This is Constantinople, later renamed Istanbul by the Ottoman Turks. Capital city of three of the worlds largest civilizations, Istanbul is a delight of the senses. Whether a Silk Road merchant long ago or a modern traveler, a similar impression lingers.
Istanbul can leave you interested for days on end. A sizzling kabob, some Turkish sweets and of course the tea can become everyday luxuries. Iconic sites from mosques to bazaars to catacombs to ancient pathways to palaces seem to appear in every street corner. The people are a cheery folk, looking to make friends, if only for a look at their collection of goods. Upon thinking, a merchant on the Silk Road visiting Constantinople may have a very similar experience to the one we had not long ago.
Constantinople also exudes the power of the west, surely to make an impression and create legends in the far east. Christian monuments symbolizing the power of the west and the influence it hopes to exert towards the east flaunts in mighty opulence, particularly the Hagia Sofia. In fact, it was quoted in the 10th century that upon entering The Holy Wisdom, (Hagia Sophia) one knows “not whether they were in Heaven or on earth.” A similar, yet distinctly different feeling is experienced when visiting Hagia Sophia today. It is still wonder of architecture in this world, but its potpourris history - church to mosque to museum to mosque - leaves it feeling overwhelming. Perhaps that is a perfect way to describe modern Istanbul, an overwhelming city juggling two continents, multiple faiths and thousands of years of history. This is the perfect place to begin the Silk Road journey...
THE SILK ROAD JOURNAL
How We Got Here:
Istanbul is one of the main international hubs of the world in terms of flights. Hundreds of flights depart and arrive in Istanbul every day. We arrived by ferry from Bursa.
Crossing the Bosporus strait by ferry, from Europe to Asia, spying the minarets and monuments in Istanbul while being greeting by flying seagulls.
Istanbul is currently the largest and most important city in Turkey. It is still a true melting pot of cultures, bringing people from all over the world together.
S N A P S H O T S O N T H E R O A D
W H E R E W I L L Y O U R J O U R N E Y T A K E Y O U N E X T ?
The journey of a lifetime along the Silk Roads begins east outside the city.
The first step of your adventure involves a decision. Either take the land route east, skirting the Black Sea, to the Ottoman town of Safranbolu. Or take a boat and sail south across the sea of Maramara to Bursa, an ancient Ottoman capitol.