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  • HI, I'M RICK STEVES,

  • BACK WITH MORE OF THE BEST OF EUROPE.

  • THIS TIME WE'RE RELAXED AND GETTING ALL CLEANED UP

  • FOR A TURKISH EXPERIENCE IN ISTANBUL.

  • THANKS FOR JOINING US.

  • ISTANBUL IS ONE OF THE GREAT CITIES ON EARTH, PERIOD.

  • FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS, THIS POINT WHERE EAST MEETS WEST

  • HAS BEEN A CROSSROADS OF CIVILIZATION.

  • FEW PLACES ON EARTH HAVE WITNESSED MORE HISTORY

  • THAN THIS SPRAWLING METROPOLIS ON THE BOSPHORUS.

  • WE'LL CRUISE THE GOLDEN HORN, SHOP THE GRAND BAZAAR

  • AND CHECK OUT A POOR MAN'S WALL STREET,

  • SAMPLE SOME TURKISH DELIGHTS...

  • OH, THAT'S GOOD, YEAH.

  • SMOKE A NARGHILE,

  • EAT FISH FRESH OFF THE BOAT,

  • EXPLORE THE HAREM IN THE TOPKAPI PALACE,

  • MARVEL AT BYZANTINE DOMES,

  • AND LOSE OURSELVES IN A SEA OF PEOPLE

  • IN THIS VAST AND COMPLEX CITY.

  • TURKEY BRIDGES EUROPE AND ASIA.

  • ISTANBUL, ITS LARGEST CITY AND COMMERCIAL CENTER,

  • STRADDLES THE STRATEGIC BOSPHORUS STRAIT.

  • PART OF THE CITY IS IN EUROPE AND PART IN ASIA.

  • THE GOLDEN HORN INLET DIVIDES THE NEW TOWN,

  • WITH ITS HIGH-ENERGY BUSINESS ZONES,

  • FROM THE OLD TOWN,

  • WHERE YOU'LL FIND THE MAJOR SITES.

  • AS A CITY WHICH IS OVER 90% MUSLIM,

  • ISTANBUL OFFERS A GOOD OPPORTUNITY

  • TO BETTER UNDERSTAND ISLAM.

  • VISITORS ARE WELCOME TO VISIT HISTORIC MOSQUES

  • AND, AT THE SAME TIME, EXPERIENCE A RELIGION

  • THAT STILL PACKS THE HOUSE.

  • THE BLUE MOSQUE WAS THE 17th-CENTURY TRIUMPH

  • OF SULTAN AHMET I.

  • ARCHITECTURALLY, WITH ITS SIX MINARETS,

  • IT RIVALED THE GREAT MOSQUE IN MECCA,

  • THE HOLIEST IN ALL ISLAM.

  • ITS GRAND COURTYARD WELCOMES THE CROWD

  • THAT GATHERS FOR WORSHIP.

  • AS WITH ALL MOSQUES, YOU PARK YOUR SHOES AT THE DOOR,

  • AND WOMEN COVER THEIR HEADS.

  • IF THEY DON'T HAVE A SCARF, THERE ARE LOANERS AT THE DOOR.

  • COUNTLESS BEAUTIFUL TILES FILL THE INTERIOR

  • WITH EXQUISITE FLORAL AND GEOMETRIC MOTIFS.

  • IT'S NICKNAMED THE BLUE MOSQUE BECAUSE OF ITS BLUE TILES.

  • BLUE IS A POPULAR COLOR IN TURKEY.

  • IT IMPRESSED EARLY FRENCH VISITORS ENOUGH

  • FOR THEM TO CALL IT "THE COLOR OF THE TURKS,"

  • OR TURQUOISE.

  • WHILE CHURCHES PORTRAY PEOPLE LIKE THIS,

  • MUSLIMS BELIEVE THE PORTRAYAL OF PEOPLE

  • IN PLACES OF WORSHIP DRAWS ATTENTION AWAY FROM

  • WORSHIPING ALLAH AS THE ONE GOD.

  • IN MOSQUES, RATHER THAN SAINTS

  • AND PROPHETS, YOU'LL SEE GEOMETRICAL DESIGNS

  • AND CALLIGRAPHY.

  • THIS EXPLAINS WHY, HISTORICALLY,

  • THE MUSLIM WORLD EXCELLED AT NON-FIGURATIVE ART

  • WHILE ARTISTS FROM CHRISTIAN EUROPE FOCUSED ON

  • PAINTING AND SCULPTURE OF THE HUMAN FORM.

  • ARTFUL ARABIC CALLIGRAPHY GENERALLY SHOWS

  • EXCERPTS FROM THE KORAN AND QUOTES FROM MOHAMMED.

  • AS A CHURCH WOULD HAVE JESUS AND GOD FRONT-AND-CENTER,

  • IN A MOSQUE, ELABORATE SIGNATURE MEDALLIONS

  • HIGH ABOVE THE PRAYER NICHE SAY "MOHAMMED" AND "ALLAH."

  • LARGE CEREMONIAL CANDLES FLANK THE MIHRAB.

  • THAT'S THE NICHE WHICH POINTS SOUTHEAST TO MECCA

  • IN SAUDI ARABIA, WHERE ALL MUSLIMS FACE

  • WHEN THEY WORSHIP.

  • SERVICES ARE SEGREGATED

  • BY GENDER -- THE MAIN HALL IS RESERVED

  • FOR MEN, WHILE THE WOMEN'S SECTION

  • IS IN THE BACK.

  • WHILE, TO SOME, IT'S DEMEANING TO MAKE WOMEN STAY IN BACK,

  • MUSLIMS SEE IT AS A PRACTICAL MATTER.

  • WOMEN WOULD RATHER HAVE THE OPTION OF PERFORMING

  • THE PHYSICAL ACT OF PRAYING IN PRIVATE.

  • Muezzin: ♪ ALLAH HU AKBAR

  • ALLAH HU AKBAR

  • LIKE CHURCHES HAVE BELL TOWERS, MOSQUES HAVE MINARETS.

  • ACCORDING TO MUSLIM TRADITION, THE IMAM OR PRAYER LEADER

  • WOULD CLIMB TO THE TOP OF A MINARET

  • TO CALL THE FAITHFUL TO PRAYER.

  • HADU ANNA MUHAMMADAN... ♪

  • THESE DAYS, THE PRAYER LEADER

  • STILL PERFORMS A CALL TO PRAYER LIVE,

  • BUT IT'S AMPLIFIED BY LOUDSPEAKERS

  • AT THE TOP OF THE MINARETS.

  • [ MUEZZIN CALLING ]

  • ALLAH HU AKBAR

  • THE CALL IS ALWAYS THE SAME --

  • "ALLAH AKBAR," "GOD IS GREAT.

  • "WITNESS THERE IS ONLY ONE GOD, MOHAMMED IS HIS PROPHET.

  • "COME JOIN THE PRAYER.

  • COME JOIN THE SALVATION."

  • WHEN THIS HAPPENS, PRACTICING MUSLIMS

  • DROP INTO A MOSQUE, FACE MECCA, AND PRAY TO GOD.

  • [ MUEZZIN CALLING ]

  • THEN, AFTER A SHORT SERVICE PRAISING GOD,

  • WORKADAY LIFE RESUMES.

  • MODERN TURKISH CULTURE IS COMPLEX.

  • TO SORT IT OUT PROPERLY, I'M JOINED BY

  • MY TURKISH FRIEND LALE SURMEN ARAN,

  • WHO CO-AUTHORS MY ISTANBUL GUIDEBOOK.

  • SO WHAT DOES THE CALL TO PRAYER MEAN TO YOU?

  • SEE, IT'S A PERSONAL THING.

  • MOST OF THE PEOPLE YOU SEE HERE ARE PROBABLY MUSLIMS,

  • BUT TURKEY'S A SECULAR COUNTRY.

  • IT'S IN OUR CONSTITUTION.

  • BUT, ON THE OTHER HAND, WE SAY THAT YOU NEVER KNOW

  • WHO HAS GOT THE MONEY OR THE FAITH.

  • THE REAL VIRTUE IS NOT TO SHOW IT OFF.

  • Steves: TURKS LOVE TO MEET

  • AND MINGLE AT ORTAKOY, JUST UNDER THE MASSIVE BRIDGE

  • THAT CONNECTED EUROPE WITH ASIA IN 1973.

  • THE TEMPO OF LIFE IN TURKEY, LIKE OTHER MEDITERRANEAN LANDS,

  • IS SLOW ENOUGH TO ENJOY THE MOMENT AND GOOD FRIENDS.

  • PEOPLE LOVE THEIR TEA,

  • THE SOUND OF DICE ON THE BACKGAMMON BOARD,

  • AND SUCKING ON THE HOOKAH, OR NARGHILE,

  • GENERALLY A TOBACCO-FREE

  • DRIED-FRUIT SMOKE.

  • THIS CITY, SO LAYERED WITH RICH HISTORY,

  • WAS OFFICIALLY NAMED ISTANBUL ONLY IN 1923

  • WITH THE FOUNDATION OF THE MODERN TURKISH REPUBLIC.

  • BEFORE THAT, IT WAS CALLED CONSTANTINOPLE.

  • OVER THE CENTURIES, THIS CITY HAS BEEN

  • THE CAPITAL OF TWO GRAND EMPIRES.

  • THE BYZANTINE EMPIRE STARTED IN THE 4th CENTURY

  • AND LASTED UNTIL THE 15th CENTURY.

  • THAT'S WHEN THE OTTOMANS TOOK OVER

  • AND RULED UNTIL THE END OF WORLD WAR I.

  • TODAY, EVEN THOUGH TURKEY IS GOVERNED FROM ANKARA,

  • ISTANBUL REMAINS THE FINANCIAL, CULTURAL,

  • AND HISTORIC CENTER OF THIS COUNTRY.

  • AS ANCIENT ROME WAS FALLING, EMPEROR CONSTANTINE

  • MOVED THE CAPITAL FROM THE WEST

  • HERE TO THE LESS CHAOTIC EAST IN AROUND 324 A.D.

  • IT WAS NAMED CONSTANTINOPLE IN HIS HONOR.

  • THEN, IN 476, ROME AND THE WESTERN EMPIRE

  • FELL TO INVADING BARBARIANS.

  • THAT LEFT CONSTANTINOPLE THE LEADING CITY

  • OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION.

  • TRACES OF THE ROMAN CAPITAL CAN STILL BE FOUND.

  • THIS SQUARE WAS A RACE TRACK, LIKE THE CIRCUS MAXIMUS IN ROME.

  • BUILT IN THE 4th CENTURY TO SEAT OVER 60,000 FANS,

  • THE HIPPODROME WAS CONSTANTINOPLE'S

  • PRIMARY VENUE FOR CHARIOT RACES.

  • ITS CENTERPIECE, THIS 3,500-YEAR-OLD

  • ANCIENT EGYPTIAN OBELISK, WAS ORIGINALLY CARVED

  • TO HONOR A PHARAOH.

  • IT WAS MOVED HERE TO ORNAMENT THE RACE TRACK

  • IN THE 4th CENTURY.

  • WHAT YOU SEE TODAY IS ONLY THE UPPER THIRD

  • OF THE ORIGINAL MASSIVE STONE TOWER.

  • WHILE YOU WON'T FIND ANY CHARIOT RACES THESE DAYS,

  • ISTANBUL REMAINS A CITY OF EXPERIENCES.

  • ONE OF THE MOST MEMORABLE IS ENJOYING A TURKISH BATH.

  • TODAY, BATHS WELCOME TOURISTS

  • AND GIVE A PEEK INTO A RICH TRADITION.

  • YOU LEAVE ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING IN THE CHANGING ROOM.

  • SLIP UNGRACEFULLY INTO WOODEN SLIPPERS

  • AND SHUFFLE INTO THE STEAMY CALDARIUM.

  • TURKS BROUGHT THE STEAM BATH WITH THEM FROM CENTRAL ASIA,

  • BLENDED IT WITH THE ROMAN BATH CULTURE

  • THEY FOUND HERE, AND CREATED THE TURKISH BATH.

  • FIRST, YOU RELAX AT THE BASIN --

  • HEAT UP, SOFTEN UP UNDER A CASCADE OF HOT WATER.

  • SAVOR THE EXPERIENCE,

  • ACHIEVING MAXIMUM SWEATING AND RELAXATION.

  • THEN YOUR ATTENDANT WORKS YOU OVER,

  • SCRUBBING VIGOROUSLY WITH ROUGH

  • BRILLO PAD-TYPE MITTS,

  • THEN SUDSING AND WASHING.

  • REFRESHED AND CLEANER THAN YOU CAN REMEMBER EVER BEING,

  • YOU VENTURE BACK INTO THE CITY,