Best Ruins That I Have Visited So Far

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 Best Ruins That I Have Visited So Far.

“The shattered wall,
the broken tower
have a story to tell –
from the touchstones of ruins
and ancient texts
we make a pilgrimage.” Michael Alexander,

Architectural ruins connect us to the past and bring history alive. There is something about visiting the sites of these ancient civilizations that fascinates me. You can see the potential that people all over the world and thousands of years ago had for greatness. Some of these amazing structures were built long before all the machinery, transport and communication tools that we have now. 

 Peru, Machu Picchu

The purpose of Machu Picchu will always remain a mystery. It is probably a religious and spiritual site.  The Inca trail leading up to Machu Picchu (it takes four days  of camping out in the Andes if you want to do it) was built to always face the snow-capped mountains because that is what they worshipped .How they transported all that granite up there  remains a mystery. It is believed that they quarried  it on site. No other civilization has managed to assemble so many colossal stone blocks so seamlessly cut with stones or bronze.  There is no mortar holding them together and they are earthquake-proof constructions.

 Chile, Easter Island, Rapa Nui Park

Who carved such enormous statues? How did they move them and raise them up onto platforms? The missionary’s stories, the explorer’s diaries, the archaeologist’s shovel, the anthropologist’s bones and the Rapa Nui oral tradition have all revealed something of the story. No one agrees on any of the answers to these questions. Archaeologists have proposed methods for moving the statues, using various combinations of log rollers, sledges and ropes .In the Rapa Nui oral tradition, the Moai were infused with mana, a spiritual force from the ancestors and the Moai walked.The Rapa Nui stories make just as much sense of the unknown as the scientific theories. There is no proof that it did not happen that way.

Turkey, Cappodocia

The dramatic landscape is the result of volcanic eruptions that happened millions  years ago. Wind and water eroded the land leaving these odd surreal land formations, fairy chimneys, caves and underground cities. Goreme Open Air Museum is a group of cave churches and monasteries from the eleventh and thirteenth centuries. The most famous and most restored one is Karanlik Killse (Dark Church) which is filled with elaborate Byzantine frescoes. Early Christians escaping from Roman persecution found shelter in Cappadocia.

Turkey, Ephesus

The ancient city of Ephesus was built in the tenth century. It was a large city (over 250,000 inhabitants in the first century BC) and a major port for trade routes into Asia Minor. Ephesus was known in antiquity for its sacred shrines, the most famous being the temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (only foundations and sculptural fragments remain). Ephesus came under Roman control in 129 BC, and continued to prosper under Emperor Augustus as capital of the Roman province of Asia. It was also an important centre of early Christianity and its greatest Christian monument was the 4th century church of St. John the Evangelist.

 Turkey, Pergamon

Pergamon was one of the key Roman cities of Anatolia and the well-preserved remains hint at the grand spectacle that the city was during its glory days. Excavations reach back to the second century B.C. It  has one of the largest libraries in the world and one of the steepest theatres.

Cambodia, Ta Prohm 

Yes,Ta Prohm is the temple where Angelina Jolie played Lara Croft in Tomb Raider. Ta Promh has been left the way it was originally found.  It was built in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The jungle had completely engulfed the entire complex when it was discovered in the last century. It was amazing to see how the massive trees have grown around and atop the structures, their roots seemingly strangling and holding up the temple’s towers and other buildings.

Cambodia, Angor Wat

Angor Wat is the largest temple in the world and the world’s largest religious building constructed of stone. It is often described as one of the most extraordinary architectural creations ever built, with its intricate bas-reliefs, strange acoustics and magnificent soaring towers. It was built by King Suryavarman II in the 12th century. Angkor Wat was shifted from Hindu to Buddhist use sometime around the late 13th century. The temple is still used by Buddhists today. It is architecturally and artistically breathtaking. No photograph can capture the immensity of this monument.

Jordan, Petra

 Petra is a city of rose-colored stone, carved out of rock by the Nabateans in the third century BC. Like Macchu Picchu, there isn’t a lot of information known about it. It is one of the dryest places on earth and how they got water for the thirty thousand people who lived here is a mystery. Stephen Spielberg brought it to us in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. 

Thailand, Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya was the old capital of the Thai kingdom from the thirteenth to the seventeenth century.  The site resembles a  graveyard of temples,  headless Buddhas (beheaded by the Burmese in the thirteenth century) and ruins showing what it might have looked like.

Myanmar, Bagan

Bagan is an ancient city located in the Mandalay region of Myanmar. From the ninth to the thirteenth centuries, the city was the capital of the Pagan kingdom. During the kingdom’s height between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries, over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were constructed in the Bagan plains alone, of which the remains of over 2,200 temples and pagodas still survive to the present day.

Mexico, Tulum

The ancient walled city perched on the edge of a cliff in Quintana Roo overlooking the Caribbean ocean was a major trading and religious centre between the eleventh and sixteenth centuries. Tulum was built to be a seaport fortress, with steep ocean cliffs providing protection from the East, and a large limestone wall enclosing the rest of the city on three sides. 

Acropolis, Greece

The Acropolis looms over Athens, and is impossible not to recognize.This citadel includes the famous white-columned Parthenon, as well as the fifth century, Propylaia, Erechtheion and Temple of Athena Nike. The Parthenon temple was dedicated to Athena, goddess of wisdom and war who planted the first olive tree on this very spot to found the city of Athens.

Italy, Colosseum

The Colosseum has been regarded as an iconic symbol of Rome since the Middle Ages.  Built in eighty A.D, it is a massive structure and is the largest amphitheatre of the Roman Empire. Being able to seat close to 50,000 spectators, it was the premier venue for wild beast shows and bloody gladiator combat.

Italy, Forum

Once the centre of public and political life in Ancient Rome, the Forum is a sprawling labyrinth of ancient ruins, including the Temple of Saturn, the Arch of Titus and the House of the Vestals. You’re standing in the very center of the ancient city, surrounded by the remains of famous temples and political buildings. The people of Rome saw the funeral of Julius Caesar here, along with the execution of Cicero and countless triumphal processions.

 Italy, Pantheon

The Pantheon was built as a temple dedicated to the worship of  Roman gods. In 609 A.D., Pope Boniface IV and Emperor Phocas converted it into the Christian church we see today. The Pantheon is considered a rotunda, a circular drum structure. Perfect mathematically, the Pantheon’s dome has an opening in the center.  In fact, the Pantheon in Rome still holds the world record for having the largest unsupported concrete dome.

Croatia, Diocletians Palace 

Diocletian’s Palace was built in the fourth century as a retirement seaside residence for the Roman Emperor, his family and seven hundred or so servants and guards in Split. The rectangular structure (520 x 620 feet) was two stories, fronted the sea and was built more like a fort than a palace. It is the most complete Roman ruins of a palace in existence today. It is not a museum .Three thousand people live and work on the grounds and there are many shops and restaurants. It is best seen when not besieged  by cruise ships.

Fly safe,

JAZ

 

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In Ruins

In Ruins In Turkey

(Pergamon, Assos, Sardis, Troy,)

“The ruins of himself! now worn away, with age, yet still majestic in decay.” Homer

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Pergamon

The best way to see the Acropolis  of Pergamon is to  take the cable car up (they will try to sell you a return ticket but insist on one-way) and then walk down the ancient road  via the Gymnasium.

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The famous Library of Pergamon, which contained 200,000 books, was situated north of the square. Antonius gave all the books in the library to Cleopatra as a wedding gift. (beauty and brains?) Pergamon’s library on the Acropolis  is the second best in the ancient Greek civilization. When the Ptolemies stopped exporting papyrus, partly because of competitors and partly because of shortages, the Pergamenes invented a new substance called pergaminus or pergamena (parchment) after the city.

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The building that has been restored now is the Temple of Trajan. Trajan started it but after his death Emperor Hadrian (117-138) finished the temple in Corinthian order.

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The Theatre of Pergamon, one of the steepest theatres in the world, has a capacity of 10,000 people and was constructed in the 3rd century BC.

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The famous Altar of Zeus in Pergamon is on the south of the theater. The Altar which was taken away from Pergamon in 1871  by the German engineer Carl Humann, is exhibited at the Museum of Pergamum in Berlin, in a way conforming to its original. Today the Turkish government is trying to get it back from Germany bringing the issue to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

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Ascieplion

The Asclepion was an ancient medical center that was founded by Archias, a local who had been cured at the Asclepion of Epidaurus (Greece). Treatments included mud baths, the use of herbs and ointments, enemas and sunbathing. Diagnosis was often by dream analysis. (treatment rooms)

Galen (AD 131–210),  was born here and studied in Alexandria, Greece and Asia Minor before becoming a physician to Pergamum’s gladiators.  He is recognized as perhaps the greatest early physician. Galen added considerably  knowledge of the circulatory and nervous systems, and also systematized medical theory. Under his influence, the medical school at Pergamum became renowned. His work was the basis for Western medicine well into the 16th century. (Galen and the symbol of the Asclepion, the snake)

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,If you are walking from the town center (2km uphill) it passes through a large military base; be off it by dusk and don’t take photos.

A Roman bazaar street , once lined with shops, leads from the entrance to the centre, where you’ll see the base of a column carved with snakes, the symbol of Asclepios (Aesculapius), god of medicine. Just as the snake sheds its skin and gains a ‘new life’, so the patients at the Asclepion were supposed to ‘shed’ their illnesses. Signs mark a circular Temple of Asciepios, a library and, beyond it, a Roman theatre.

You can take a drink from the Sacred Well, although the plastic tube out of which the water flows doesn’t look particularly sanitary), and pass along the vaulted underground corridor to the Temple of Telesphorus, another god of medicine. Patients slept in the temple hoping that Telesphorus would send a cure or diagnosis in a dream.

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Assos

After leaving the Platonic Academy in Athens, Aristotle went to Assos, where he was welcomed by King Hermias, and opened an Academy in this city. In the Academy of Assos, Aristotle became a chief to a group of philosophers and they made many innovative observations in zoölogy and biology.. Aristotle also married Pythias, the adopted daughter of Hermias.

On the acropolis 238 m above sea level are the remains of the Doric Temple of Athena, which date back to 530 BC. Six of the original 38 columns remain. It is possible to see  spectacular views of much of the surrounding area from this ancient Temple of  Athena built on top of a cliff.

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Sardis.

Sardis was the capital of the kingdom of Lydia. In the seventh century BC, the Lydians invented the first coinage in history. Some of the highlights of Sardis are the temple of Artemis –one of the largest temples of Asia Minor and the Roman Gymnasium complex. Part of the gymnasium was converted into a synagogue in the third century BC. Sardis is one of the Seven Churches of the Revelation. (Gymnasium)

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Roman Temple of Artemis

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Troy

The city now believed to contain the ancient Troy of Homer’s Iliad was founded around 2920 BCE. Over its long and shaky history, Troy appears to have been destroyed at least nine times.

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Henrik Schliemann, having heard claims from an English archaeologist that the hill called Hisarlik concealed the ruins of Homer’s Troy, got permission from the Ottoman government for an archaeological dig. While Schliemann did manage to uncover four ancient towns during his excavations, the amateur archaeologist also destroyed several others along the way.

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Schliemann also found a cache of gold and other artifacts. He mistakenly believed them to be “The Treasure of Priam,” but it was later proven to be from an earlier civilization. The treasure was recently rediscovered in Russia, after having disappeared during WW2, and is at the centre of an ongoing ownership dispute. At the moment, the treasure sits in the Pushkin Museum in Moscow.

After Schliemann death, his assistant Wilhelm Doerpfeld worked at Troy for many years. It was he who identified the nine basic layers of the city, labeling them in the Roman numerical system still used today. An American archaeologist named Carl Blegen would find based on evidence of burning and siege, that Troy VII-a  was the likeliest time for the Trojan War.

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At Troy one can see mostly ruins or ruins of ruins. There are ruins of walls from a number of different periods scattered throughout the site, some include a gate or tower.

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Compared to Ephesus, one of the best-preserved ancient cities on the Mediterranean, the ruins of Troy are a disappointment, but for any fan of Homer or lover of mythology, the trip is well worth your time. (even if does include a few fake Trojan horses.)

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for more ancient ruins in Turkey go to All Roads Lead to Ephesus.

https://havefunflysafe.wordpress.com/2013/01/16/all-roads-lead-to-ephesus/

 Errosthe ( Ancient Greek closing –  be healthy, sound, vigorous, fare well) and Fly Safe,

JAZ

Things I Have Learned In Turkey

.“The use of traveling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.” – Samuel Johnson

Things I’ve Learned  In Turkey

It’s hard to find turkey in Turkey ( but I found one in a cage at the caravanserai on the silk road).

Skembe (tripe soup) is a popular hangover cure.

If a hotel  in Turkey has a good personality, it is not five-star.

The tulip originated in Turkey and was exported to Europe during the Ottoman Empire. There are tulip tiles in many of the old mosques. (Rustem Pasha Camii , Istanbul)

In some villages, if a girl doesn’t know weaving and a man cannot make pottery, they shouldn’t get married.

Most Christians were illiterate in the time of Constantinople.  Now Turkey has a literacy rate of one hundred per cent.

Fresh Turkish bagels in Istanbul are better than Jewish bagels in New York. Pastirma is Pastrami in Turkish. It does seem strange having amazing pastrami and bagels  in Turkey. ( no mustard or cream cheese)

The world’s tallest man is Turkish (8 feet 1 inch).

Turkish toilets are like Japanese toilets.

Hillary Clinton and I both stayed at the Lugal in Ankara,

People can go into any mosque in Turkey.You do not have to be a member of a mosque –even on the Bayram  (high holidays).I happen to be in Istanbul on the Bayram ( last four days of the Muslim calendar). On the first day ( while many  Muslims are in Mecca) according to the story of Abraham sacrificing his son, livestock is slaughtered and shared with the poor, friends and relatives.  Traditionally the skins are given to the Turkish Airforce to make jackets.  Every part of the lamb must be used for God.  It is a holiday for visiting the sick, elderly, honoring the dead and giving to charity.  It is a bloody day in the villages.   I ate some amazing lamb meatballs wrapped in phyla dough in honor of the holiday. ( Uc Serefeli Camii, Edirne)

There is no such thing as buying too many leather jackets in Turkey. Everything is best quality and best price. (www.kircilar.com.tr)

The highest peak in Turkey is Mount Agri (5,166 m). It is also said to be the place where Noah’s Ark came to rest.(Mount Ararat)

It was in ancient Anatolia that writing was first used by people.  The first coin in the world was minted in Turkey as well.

Anatolia is the birthplace of Homer, King Midas, Herodotus and St Paul the Apostle.

Turkey is the only secular Muslim country among all the Muslim countries in the world. The thirteen countries surrounding Turkey are unstable. “You take Iraq, Iran and Syria and we will take your problems.”

Pide is Turkish pizza. Pita is not. (Nar Lokantsi restaurant, Istanbul)

It is better to read a book about Ataturk written by a foreigner because it will be unbiased. Turks worship him and rightly so – He is responsible for the way Turkey is today. (Ataturk memorial, Ankara)

Turks accidentally became Muslims. They started as shamans and encountered Islam on their way to Turkey.

Restaurants connected to gas stations in Turkey are delicious. Don’t try this in the U.S. (  If you are headed to the ancient  Greek city of Pergamon stop at Saglam Restaurant – Mehmet Saglam -Bergama)

We are luckier than the ancient Greeks because we got to take a cable car up a very steep hill  to  the Acropolis of Pergamon. We are also lucky that it wasn’t windy.

Turkish people take care of the old, sick and homeless in their families. If someone is homeless, the Turks blame the family for not taking care of them. If they don’t help them “they put them in the fire.” I think I saw one homeless person in the time I was there. Where was his family?

According to a Global Sex survey, Turkey is the world’s most virile nation.

I like the name Turkish Delight much more than the actual candy. I like the green m and m  pistachio candies a lot.

Don’t tell a Greek or Turk this but their food, dessert, liquor , coffee, evil eye jewelry, prayer beads, backgammon sets and seaside resorts are very similar.

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If you are a woman, the only establishments that you need to be aware of are the Turkish tea houses. If you are in doubt look around and see who else is in there.

Some hotels in Turkey have airport security. Airports have double security, first to come into the airport and then to go on the plane.

A hotel that cannot be run worse can have a restaurant that can be run best.

In a Hammam (Turkish baths), the Turkish women and children wear bathing suits. The foreigners do not . If you did not know this and you end up in a small hammam with Turkish families, it can be awkward.

It’s best to wear light slip on shoes when visiting mosques.

Julius Caesar proclaimed his celebrated words, “Veni, Vidi, Vici” (I came, I saw, I conquered) in Turkey when he defeated the Pontus, a formidable kingdom in the Black Sea region of Turkey.

You can still get on the 6:00  car ferry from Gallipoli across the Dardanelles to Cannakale if you arrive at 5:57. (Cannakale morning)

Azerbaijan looks like a nice place to vacation. They have a lot of commercials for tourism  on Turkish TV.

Zeus was born on Mt Ida. King Priam sent his son Paris there to grow up with the bears.

Turkish carpets have double knots which make them the strongest carpets in the world.  Seeing how carpets are made are a big part of Turkish culture.

Hand woven carpets are dyed naturally.  Red – rhubarb, pomegranate; brown –wet walnut, blue-indigo, yellow-saffron, orange-onionskin and green –sage. (gallerycappadocia.com)

The Turkish government subsidizes the carpet industry. Carpets are shipped  anywhere in the world for free. Yes, I took advantage of that and also the best price for a beautiful dowry rug. (made by a village girl)

The most valuable silk carpet in the world, is in the Mevlana Museum in Konya with 144 knots per square centimeter. In the 13th century, Marco Polo wrote “the best and handsomest of rugs are woven here, and also silks of crimson and other rich colors”.

Turks introduced coffee to Europe but they do not grow coffee. Their coffee is famous for the way it is prepared. One of the few words I learned in Turkish ( a very hard language for me) is “tsekeses” – no sugar.

The property rates for homes are quoted in dollars and not Turkish lira.

According to Turkish tradition a stranger at one’s doorstep is considered “A Guest from God” and should be accommodated accordingly.

Mother in-laws in Turkey are smart. They know they have to get along with the daughter in-laws.  Daughter in-laws in Turkey are smarter, they know they have to respect the mother in-law.

Turkey provides 70% of the world’s hazelnuts; the nut in your nutella was most probably grown in Turkey.

If you happen to be on the road to Iraq and Syria, stop off in Cappadocia.

In Turkey, you can change continents several times a day. In one day, you can be in Troy, Mesopotamia, Byzantium and Constantinople.

The most important thing to bring to Turkey is pants with elastic waistbands. The food is amazing. It is a combination of Middle Eastern/ Mediterranean.

The Famous Trojan Wars took place in western Turkey, around the site where a wooden statue of the Trojan Horse rests today. There is another wooden horse that was sold to the city of Cannakale (nearby) from the Hollywood movie Troy. I saw both fake Trojan horses.( Troy, Troy, Heinrich Schliemann excavation at Troy, Cannakale-Trojan Horse from the movie Troy)

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Part of Turkey’s southwestern shore was a wedding gift that Mark Anthony gave to Cleopatra.

The are eight million Kurds living in Turkey. They are not all terrorists. The ones who are, control the drug trade through Turkey.

Iranians and Turks are not considered Arabs.

Gallipoli was the bloodiest battle in World War One.  It was an eight month campaign. In that time the total Allied deaths were 43,000. The total Turkish deaths were 63,000.  Many Australians and New Zealanders died there. (ANZAC forces) Many come to Gallipoli on April 25 which is ANZAC day. I met a few Australians in Cannakale who had come to see it. There are many memorials and cemeteries in the Gallipoli memorial park. (ANZAC memorial, location of fighting).

Quote on the Ataturk Memorial at Gallipoli ” Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives! You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours. You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”  Ataturk 1934

Whirling dervishes fascinate me. Belonging to the order of Sufism, they dedicate themselves to a life of poverty and spinning around.   They detach themselves from the here and now, to reach a state of religious ecstasy that I think can be achieved in easier ways.  Also, whirling dervishes are slow.

Turks do not throw their own garbage away in Starbucks or McDonald’s.

The opera and the ballet are state-owned and not as popular as soccer.

There are no images in mosques because God is unseen. The ban on images of people led to the development of the detailed and beautiful calligraphy that is the principle adornment of mosques and other Islāmic religious items. (Eski Camii, Edirne, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Sokullo Mehmet Pasa Mosque, Istanbul)

The only thing you have to do in Turkey is accept a drink every time it is offered. ( This will  happen in every shop you walk into. It is very time-consuming but pleasant -especially if you like apple tea or Turkish coffee).

for more info see

Top Ten Favorite Things in Turkey

https://havefunflysafe.wordpress.com/2012/11/04/my-top-ten-favorite-things-in-turkey/

Things I Have Learned In Istanbul

https://havefunflysafe.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/things-i-have-learned-in-istanbul/

Top Tem Meals In Turkey

https://havefunflysafe.wordpress.com/2012/12/11/top-ten-meals-in-turkey

Things I Have Learned in Ephesus

https://havefunflysafe.wordpress.com/2013/01/16/all-roads-lead-to-ephesus/

In Ruins

https://havefunflysafe.wordpress.com/2013/02/13/in-ruins/

I am “very good lucky” to have been on this trip.

Tsekkeru Edarim Turkey,  Fly Safe ,

JAZ