Thursday, 28 April 2011

Istanbul, Turkey

A nice view of Istanbul, Turkey I received from the 'Choose a Country' RR a while ago. I have to say I really like this RR, people participating in it all seem so nice and I've received some lovely postcards through it. :)

I love it how blue this card is. I really wouldn't mind living somewhere where there would be a sea/lake nearby.. *sigh* Anyway. In the background you can see the famous Blue Mosque, and the building on the front is Leander's (or Maiden's) Tower. It sits on a small islet located at the southern entrance of Bosphorus strait 200 m off the coast of Üsküdar in Istanbul, Turkey.

Maiden's Tower was first built by the ancient Athenian general Alcibiades in 408 BC to control the movements of the Persian ships in the Bosphorus strait. Back then the tower was located between the ancient cities of Byzantion and Chrysopolis. The tower was later enlarged and rebuilt as a fortress by the Byzantine emperor Alexius Comnenus in 1110 AD, and was restored and slightly modified several times by the Ottoman Turks, most significantly in 1509 and 1763. The most recent facelift was made in 1998. Steel supports were added around the ancient tower as a precaution after the 17 August 1999 earthquake.

Used as a lighthouse for centuries, the interior of the tower has been transformed into a popular café and restaurant, with an excellent view of the former Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman capital.Private boats make trips to the tower several times a day.

There are many legends about the construction of the tower and its location. According to the most popular Turkish legend, a sultan had a much beloved daughter. One day, an oracle prophesied that she would be killed by a venomous snake on her 18th birthday. The sultan, in an effort to thwart his daughter's early demise by placing her away from land so as to keep her away from any snakes, had the tower built in the middle of the Bosphorus to protect his daughter until her 18th birthday. The princess was placed in the tower, where she was frequently visited only by her father.

On the 18th birthday of the princess, the sultan brought her a basket of exotic sumptuous fruits as a birthday gift, delighted that he was able to prevent the prophecy. Upon reaching into the basket, however, an asp that had been hiding among the fruit bit the young princess and she died in her father's arms, just as the oracle had predicted. Hence the name Maiden's Tower.

The stamp is very nice, too. I couldn't find any info about it, though, and I don't understand Turkish. :/


Leslie said...

Erzurum (city in eastern Turkey) hosted the "World University Games" this year, so the stamp is in honor of that. :)

Anu said...

Ahh, ok. Thank you so much for the information!