Posted by: Rasma R | March 18, 2017

Antalya, Turkey


A lovely Turkish resort city, Antalya offers visitors the Old Harbor full of yachts and plenty of golden, sun-drenched beaches. This city has become known as the gateway to Turkey’s southern Mediterranean region which is known as the Turquoise Coast. It was named so for the clear, blue water. Antalya is situated right on the Gulf of Antalya and is the largest city on Turkey’s western Mediterranean coastline.

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The Antalya Museum is a comprehensive museum that offers exhibitions from the Stone and Bronze Ages to Byzantium. The Hall of Regional Excavations exhibits finds from ancient cities and the Hall of Gods displays impressive statues of 15 Olympian gods. Upstairs you can see coins and other gold artifacts.

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Antalya’s historic district begins at the main square, Kale Kapisi, which is marked by the


old stone Saat Kulesi

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and statue of Attalus II, the city’s founder. To the north is Iki Kapilar Hans, a sprawling covered bazaar that dates back to the late 15th century.

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Walking south along Uzun Carsi Sokak, from the clock tower right on the left you can see the 18th century Tekeli Mehmet Pasa Camil, a mosque that was built by the Beylerbey (Governor of Governors).

Wandering further into the historic district you can see many lovely old Ottoman houses which have been restored and converted into pensions, boutique hotels and shops.

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To the east, at the top of Hesapci Sokak, you’ll see the impressively monumental Hadrian’s Gate, also known as Uckapilar or the Three gates that was erected for the Roman emperor’s visit to Antalya in 130 A.D.

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Eventually you’ll come to the Roman Harbor filled with private yachts and excursion boats. An elevator descends from the cliff to the harbor. The harbor is lined with tea gardens, bars, restaurants and cafes. Above the harbor, on Cumhuriyet Meydant’s southern edge are tea gardens offering expansive, aerial harbor views.

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At the southwestern edge of Kaleici is Karaalioglu Parki, a large and lovely flower-filled park with great views over the sea and a wonderful place for sunset strolling. It is a great place for relaxing and getting some shade and catching a breeze on a hot day. Many city residents enjoy evening strolls here. Here you can find the mayor’s office and a city theater.


Visitors enjoy seeing the Hidirlik Kulesi, the ancient fortress tower that overlooks the Roman harbor, the falez or cliffs that drop from the park promontory into the Gulf of Antalya and the great views of the gulf

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and the Beydaglari Mountains to the west.  The name of the park means “Son of Black Ali” and is pronounced kah-RAH-ah-Lee-oh-loo.

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Hidirlik Kalesi is a 14m-high tower that was built in the 1st or 2nd century A.D. as a mausoleum and later because of its great location above the bay, played an important role in the defense of the city as a watchtower and lighthouse.

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Yivli Minare an impressive and distinctive minaret that was erected by Seljuk Sultan Aladdin Keykubad I in the early 13th century. It has become Antalya’s symbol. This ancient mosque is still in use today. Within this complex is a craft center located in the restored 13th century Imaret Medresesi (seminary), the Mevlevi Tekke, a whirling dervish monastery and two turbe (tombs).

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On the broad plaza to the west is the equestrian statue of Ataturk.

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Sultaan Alaadin Camii is a wonderful mosque found in the back alleys of Kaleici. In 1834 it was the Greek Orthodox Panhagia Church and then converted to a mosque in 1958. In the Prayer Hall the original painted ceiling has intricate star motifs. The mosque is usually open in the afternoon after midday prayer.

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Suna & inan Kirac Kaleici is a small ethnography museum that has found its home in a beautiful, restored Antalya mansion. On the second floor you’ll find a series of life-size dioramas which depict some of the most important rituals and customs of Ottoman Antalya.

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Konyaalti Plaji is a lovely beach for sunbathing and relaxing.

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Yenikapi Greek Church is a small 19th century church that was renovated in 2007. It has a lovely interior with frescoes and hand-carved decorations. Orthodox services are held here.

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Saat Kulesi was built under the reign of Sultan Abdul Hamid II. This clock tower marks the Kale Kapisi entrance to Kaleici.

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In the limestone countryside around Antalya are the Karst Springs. Here you can find karst springs, sinkholes and waterfalls. Lime deposits from these springs have built up over a period of 1.5 to two million years into vast travertine terraces.

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Duden Waterfalls are actually two different waterfall sites known as the Upper and Lower Duden Waterfalls. The lower waterfall offers great views of nature and a beautiful park with cafes and along the coast you can get a look at Antalya’s urban areas.

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If you’re looking for some excitement and adventure you can take a speedboat trip right into the falls and cool off on a hot afternoon. The sunrise is especially lovely when seen from the falls. Tickets are required for the upper Duden falls.

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Köprülü Canyon National Park is located in the province of Manavgat in Antalya between Bolasan and Beskonak, around the Koprulu Canyon through which flows the Kopru Stream. Here you can see stone formations and the old stone bridge crossing the Kopru Stream is still used today. It is a great place for whitewater rafting.

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Wildlife in the national park include deer, mountain goats, bears, foxes, rabbits, badgers and wolves. Many trout make their home in the stream.

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Here you can also see a bit of history in the theater, the agora, the temples of Artemis and Zeus and the cisterns and aqueducts of the ancient city of Selge. Stone roads connect the ancient city of Selge to the towns of Pamphylia. The villages of Beskonak and Karabuk have private houses that offer accommodation.


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Posted by: Rasma R | March 11, 2017

Istanbul, Turkey

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In this world today one cannot be sure of what will happen when traveling. There are safe places and places you cannot be sure that something won’t happen. However in our armchair travels we can enjoy taking a look at most any place in the world and not have to worry about actually being there. Then in time we can make the decision of traveling there when things make a turn for the better. Another great thing about armchair travels is that we can go from one place to another with no problems at all. So while I am making up our travel itinerary as I go along I chose to include Turkey in our travels because the country has many amazing things to see including 13 UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Turkey is a country that is partly in eastern Europe and also in western Asia. It is bordered by eight countries – Greece to the west, Bulgaria to the northwest, Georgia to the northeast, Armenia, the Azerbaijan exclave of Nakhchivan and Iran to the east, Iraq and Syria to the south. To the west is the Aegean Sea, to the north the Black Sea and to the south the Mediterranean Sea. The Bosphorus, the Sea of Marmara and the Dardanelles, form the Turkish Straits, divide Thrace and Anatolia and separate Europe and Asia.

Istanbul is a major city in Turkey that straddles Europe and Asia across the Bosphorus Strait.

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Tokapi Palace was the court of the Ottoman Empire between the 15th and 19th centuries. Visitors are fascinated by the opulent pavilions, the Treasury full of jewels and the sprawling Harem.

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Entrance to the palace is through the Imperial Gate (Bab-ı Hümayun). Just before entering in the cobbled square you’ll see the Rococo-style Fountain of Sultan Ahmet II, built in 1738 by the sultan who favored tulips.

Once past the gate you’ll be in the First Court, known as the Court of the Janissaries or the Parade Court. On the left is the Byzantine Church of Hagia Eirene, commonly known as Aya Irini.

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The Second Court is through the Middle Gate (Ortakapı or Bab-üs Selâm). This court was used for the business of running the empire. During the time of the Ottoman Empire only the sultan and the valide sultan or mother of the sultan were allowed through the Middle Gate on horseback. Everyone else had to dismount.

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Chimneys of the kitchen

The Second Court brings you into a lovely park-like setting with a series of pavilions, kitchens, barracks, audience chambers, kiosks and sleeping quarters all built around a central enclosure. After restoration the Palace Kitchens have been reopened and you can see the collection of Chinese celadon porcelain. The sultans admired the porcelain for its beauty and for its worth since it was reputed to change color if touched by poisonous food.

Here you’ll also find the Imperial Council Chamber (Dîvân-ı Hümâyûn). This is where the council met to discuss matters of state. The room to the right displays clocks that were part of the palace collection. There is also the Outer Treasury which houses an impressive collection of Ottoman and European arms and armor.

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 Beneath the Tower of Justice to the west of the Second Court is the entrance to the Harem. These were the imperial family quarters and every detail of Harem life was always governed by tradition, obligation and ceremony. Literally the meaning of the word “harem” is forbidden or private.

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Courtyard of Concubines 

The Harem complex has six floors, but only one can be visited. You approach through the Carriage Gate. Inside the gate is the Dome With Cupboards and beyond it is a room where the eunuch guards were stationed. It is decorated with fine Kutahya tiles from the 17th century. Beyond this room is the narrow Courtyard of the Black Eunuchs also decorated with these tiles. Behind the marble colonnade on the left are the Black Eunchs’ Dormitories. At one time as many as 200 eunuchs lived here, guarding the doors and waiting on the women of the Harem. There are many fascinating rooms and things to see here.

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Gate of Felicity

 From here leads a passage which is known as the Golden Road and takes visitors into the Third Court. The Third Court is entered through the Gate of Felicity. This was the sultan’s private domain, staffed and guarded by white eunuchs. The Audience Chamber was where important officials and foreign ambassadors conducted the high business of state.

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Behind this is the lovely Library of Ahmet III built in 1719. Toward the east is the Dormitory of Expeditionary Force, housing a collection of imperial robes, kaftans and uniforms. There is also an interesting collection of talismanic shirts that were believed to protect the wearer from enemies and misfortunes.

On the other side of the Third Court are the Sacred Safekeeping Rooms. These are decorated with Iznik tiles and house many relics of the Prophet. Next door is the Dormitory of the Privy Chamber, housing an exhibit of the portraits of 36 sultans. The highlight here is the impressive painting of the Enthronement Ceremony of Sultan Selim III the artwork of Konstantin Kapidagli.

Toward the east is the Imperial Treasury featuring an amazing collection of objects from or decorated with gold, silver, rubies, emeralds, jade, pearls and diamonds. There are four rooms. The second room exhibits non-Ottoman objects that were received as gifts or are spoils of war.

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The most famous exhibit is the Tokapi Dagger found in the fourth room. The dagger has three huge emeralds on the hilt and a watch set into the pommel. It was the object of the criminal heist in the 1964 film “Tokapi” by Jules Dassin. Near it is the Kasikci or Spoonmaker’s Diamon, a teardrop-shapped 86-carat diamond surrounded by dozens of smaller stones and is one of the largest diamonds in the world.

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The Fourth Court is home to the pleasure pavilions. Here you’ll find the Konyah Restaurant, offering spectacular views from the terrace. Up the steps from the Mecidiye Kiosk is the Head Physician’s Pavilion. On this terrace is also the Kiosk of Mustafa Pasha also sometimes known as the Sofa Kosku. During the reighn of Ahmet III, the Tulip Garden outside this kiosk was filled with lovely flowers.

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At the end of the Tulip Garden is the Marble Terrace, a platform with a decorative pool, three pavilions and the Iftariye Kameriyesi, a small structure commissioned by Ibrahim I (“the Crazy”) in 1640 as a picturesque place to break the rast of Ramazan.

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Murat IV had the Baghdad Kiosk constructed in 1639 which is one of the last examples of classical palace architecture. It was built to commemorate his victory over the city of Baghdad. You can see fine Iznik tiles, a painted ceiling and mother-of-pearl and tortoiseshell inlay.

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 The small Circumcision Room (Sünnet Odası) was used for the ritural that admits Muslim boys to manhood. It was built by Ibrahim I in 1640.

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Gulhane Park was once the outer garden of Tokapi Palace. Today locals and visitors enjoy pickning under the trees, strolling by the flowerbeds and enjoying the lovely views of the Bosphorus, Sea of Marmara and Prince’s Islands from the Set Ustu Cay Bahcesi on the park’s northeastern edge.

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The park is particularly lovely during the Istanbul Tulip Festival in April and May.

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Suleymaniye Mosque sits atop of one of Istanbul’s seven hills, dominating the Golden Horn and providing a landmark for the city. It is one of the grandest Ottoman mosques. The mosque and surrounding buildings were designed by Mimar Sinan, the most famous and talented of all imperial architects. His tomb is just outside the mosque’s walled garden.

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The mosque has lovely gardens and a three-sided forecourt with a central domed ablutions fountain. The four minarets with 10 beautiful balconies are said to represent the fact that Suleyman was the fourth of the Osmanh sultans to rule the city and the 10th sultan after the establishment of the empire. In the garden behind the mosque is a terrace that offers beautiful views of the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus. The interior is richly decorated.

In the imaret (soup kitchen) you’ll find the Daruzziyafe Cafe. To the right is a tabhane, an inn for travelling dervishes and to the left is Lale Bahcesi, a popular tea garden in a sunken courtyard.

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Kariye Museum (Chora Church) is a beautiful church full of mosaics and frescoes. It displays impressive Byzantine art. The building was originally known as the Church of the Holy Savior Outside the Walls. Literally chora means “country”. When originally built it was located outside the city wall constructed by Constantine the Great. Today you see the reconstruction. Almost all of the interior decorations date from 1320 and were funded by Theodore Metochites, a poet and man of letters. He was the official who was responsible for the Byzantine treasury under Emperor Andronikos II. Just above the door to the nave in the inner narthex you can see a wonderful mosaic, showing Theodore offering the church to Christ.

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Today this church consists of five main architectural units – the nave, the two-storied annex added to the north, the inner and outer narthexes and the chapel for tombs. Most of the interior is covered in mosaics that depict the lives of Christ and the Virgin Mary. To the right of the nave is the parecclesion, a side chapel that was built to house the tombs of the founder of the church and his relatives, close friends and associates. It is decorated with frescoes of themes on death and resurrection, depicting scenes from the Old Testament.

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Aya Sofya stands out from other important monuments with its innovative architectural form and incredible beauty. It was commissioned by the great Byzantine Emperor Justinian, consecrated as a church in 537, converted to a mosque by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1453 and declared as a museum by Ataturk in 1935.

As you enter the building and walk into the inner narthex you can look up to see an impressive mosaic of Christ as Pantocrator (Ruler of All) above the third and largest door known as the Imperial Door. Through this comes the main space which is famous for its dome, huge nave and gold mosaics. The focal point is the apse, with its amazing 19th century mosaic of the Virgin and Christ Child. As you look about you’ll see many more fascinating mosaics.

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In the side aisle at the bottom of the ramp that leads to the upstairs galleries you’ll see a worn copper facing that has been pieced by a hole. Legend has it that the pillar known as the Weeping Column, was blessed by St. Gregory the Miracle Worker and if one puts their finger into the hole their ailments will be healed if the finger when pulled out is moist.

The Upstairs Galleries offer many impressive mosaics depicting Christ, the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist as well as emperors and empresses.

Exiting the building through the Beautiful Gate, a magnificent bronze gate dating from the 2nd century B.C. a doorway on the left leads into a small courtyard.

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Dolmabahce Palace is a popular Imperial palace with a neo-Classical exterior and impressive interior. It consists of Ceremonial Suites, Apartments of the Crown Prince and a Harem. The Apartments of the Crown Prince are now home to the National Palaces Painting Museum. Visitors enter the palace grounds through the ornate Imperial Gate which includes a clock tower. Close-by is an outdoor cafe that offers great views of the Bosphorus.

The palace has lovely gardens and is divided into three sections – the Selamhk, Harem and Veliaht Dairesi. Guided tours of up to 50 people are available.

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The Selamhk has impressive chandeliers and a crystal staircase made by Baccarat.

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The National Palaces Painting Museum showcases the palace’s collection of paintings. Among the highlights are the Turkish Painters 1870 – 1890 room downstairs and upstairs the Istanbul Views room where you can see 19th century street scenes by Germain Fabius Brest.

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Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art has found a home in an Ottoman palace that was built for Ibrahim Pasa, who was a childhood friend, brother-in-law and grand vizier of Suleyman the Magnificent.  It offers visitors an impressive collection of artifacts among them exquisite calligraphy and one of the world’s most amazing antique carpet collections. The museum’s collection dates from the 8th to the 19th century. You can see interesting 12th and 14th century wooden columns and doors from Damascus and Cizre.

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 The Basilica Cistern is a most surprising tourist attraction. This is a huge, palace-like underground hall that is supported by 336 columns in 12 rows. At one time it stored the water supply for the Byzantine emperors. This project was begun by Constantine the Great and finished by Emperor Justinian in the 6th century.

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A great many of these columns used in the construction were recycled from earlier classical structures and feature decorative carvings. The most famous are the column bases known as the Medusa stones found in the northwest corner along with their Medusa head carvings. A most peaceful place to visit with the columns lit up and the sound of softly, trickling water.

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 The Blue Mosque is Istanbul’s most photogenic building. The exterior features a cascade of domes and six slender minarets. The interior is decorated with blue Iznik tiles. Visitors must use the south door as only worshipers are let through the main door. It is closed to non-worshipers during the six daily prayer times.

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The Hippodrome is left over from the days when Byzantine emperors enjoyed chariot races. It now sits along Sultanahmet Park and is a popular meeting place and place for strolling.

 What is left of the ancient Hippodrome is a small section of gallery walls on the south side. On this site now is the At Meydani Park with monuments. On the northwest side is a fountain presented to the Ottoman sultan. Toward the southwest you’ll see three ancient monuments – a 20-meter high Egyptian obelisk from Heliopolis, the Serpent Column and a stone obelisk that was once clad in gold-covered bronze plating until they plating  was stolen by the 4th Crusade soldiers in 1204.


Kaiser Wilhelm’s Fountain is located near the north end of the Hippodromes. This is a little gazebo with lovely stonework and was presented to the sultan and his people as a token of friendship by the German emperor in 1901. The monograms on the dome’s interior feature Abdul Hamit’s calligraphic signature and the first letter of Wilhelm’s name, representing their political union.

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The Spiral Column comes up out of a hole in the ground. It is a strange column that was once taller and topped by the heads of three serpents. It was originally built to commemorate a victory of the Hellenic confederation over the Persians in the Battle of Plataea. It originally stood in front of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, Greece from 478 B.C. until Constantine the Great brought it to his new capital city about 330 A.D.

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Yildiz Park is a large tree filled park full of the singing of birds. Families enjoy picnics here and couples love to stroll. The best time at the park is in April when the spring flowers and a great many tulips are in bloom.

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At the park’s highest point is Yildiz Sale. It was built as a hunting lodge for Sultan Abdul Hamit II in 1880. The sale or chalet closed to the public but if reopened is worth a visit.

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A bit past the chalet you’ll come to the Malta Kosku a restaurant and function center.  The terrace offers wonderful Bosphorus views as well as the dining room upstairs with an ornate ceiling and chandelier.

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After that comes the Yildiz Porselen Fabrikasi. This building was designed by Italian architect Raimondo D’Aronco, who introduced Art Nouveau style to Istanbul. You can visit the workshop. The showroom at the gate sells the porcelain made here including cups and saucers, whirling dervish figures and fun mugs depicting the Ottoman sultans.

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Galata Tower built in the 14th century is one of Istanbul’s most recognizable landmarks. From the top balcony you can get panoramic views over the city.

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For lovely views at sunset take a walk across the Galata Bridge. It is at this time that the historic Galata Tower is surrounded by seagulls, the mosques atop of the seven hills are silhouetted against a soft red-pink sky and you can smell the scent of apple tobaccos from the nargile cafes under the bridge. The cafes and restaurants beneath the bridge serve drinks and food all day and night. You can enjoy a relaxing drink while watching ferries come and go.

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Right near the bridge you can take the world’s oldest underground railways the Tunel which will take you to the lower end of the pedestrianised Istiklai Caddesi or Independence Street. This is a bustling modern shopping street with many restaurants and cafes.

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You can also choose to take a ride on the old-fashioned tramway that runs the length of the

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street right up to Taksim Square at the top of the hill.

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The area surrounding Istiklai Caddesi also includes Orhan Pamuk’s Museum of Innocence. Pamuk is Turkey’s most famous author and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. This conceptual-art museum is based around the theme of his novel.

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From Taksim you can walk along the busy Cumhuriyet Caddesi which is lined with hotels, shops, restaurants and high rises.

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Beyazit Square in Byzantine days this public square was called the Forum of Theodosius. Today you can enjoy the antics of pigeons, see the wares of street vendors

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and watch the students gathering here from the adjoining Istanbul University.

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The main building is the Beyazit Mosque along with various other buildings. This complex is now home to the magnificent Beyazit State Library.

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The 85m-tall Beyazit Tower sits on top of one of the seven hills. The colored lights on it indicate weather conditions – blue for clear and sunny, green for rain, yellow for fog and red for snow. The university and the tower are closed to visitors.


As you can see Istanbul offers so much that it would make this blog post practically endless. So I will finish here and if you take a trip to the city you will have plenty of surprises left.

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Posted by: Rasma R | March 5, 2017

Ulaanbaater, Mongolia


Taking a tour of different countries while comfortably sitting back in an armchair certainly takes the stress off of traveling. In this way you can be most anywhere in the blink of an eye and if and when you choose to travel you have an idea of what you can expect and see. We have been looking at the former Soviet republics. I thought it might be interesting to take a look at some places in Mongolia since the country is bordered by Russia and China. Mongolia is a landlocked unitary sovereign state in East Asia.


The capital and largest city is Ulaanbaatar lying in the Tuui River Valley which borders the Bogd Khan Uul National Park. The city was also once under Soviet control in the 20th century and has Soviet-era buildings. Today it has become quite a modern city.


Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts offers visitors an impressive collection of paintings, carvings and sculptures. Many of them the artwork of sculptor and artist Zanabazar. There are also rare religious exhibits like scroll thangka (paintings) and Buddhist statues. You’ll find exhibit captions in English.


Gandan Khiid is an amazing Buddhist monastery and one of Mongolia’s most important and also biggest tourist attractions. Its full name is Gandantegchinlen in translation “the great place of complete joy”.

Building of the monastery began in 1838. It survived through all religious purges and finally in 1990 full religious ceremonies were once again held here. Today over 600 monks belong to this monastery.

Going through the main entrance from the south, a path leads right into a courtyard with two temples. The most significant ceremonies are held in the Ochidara Temple. Following the kora (pilgrim) path clockwise around the temple you’ll see a large statue behind glass of Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelugpa sect.


The other temple the two-story Didan-Lavran Temple was home to the 13th Dalai Lama during his stay there in 1904.

At the end of the main path you enter into the lovely white Migjid Janraisig Sum, the monastery’s main attraction. Along the walls of the temple are hundreds of images of Ayush, the Buddha of Longevity. Here you’ll also find the magnificent Migjid Janraisig statue.

26 meter high statue of the goddess Janraisig or Avalokiteshvara, Gandan Monastery, Migjid Janraisig Sueme, Gandan Khiid, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, Asia

This is no longer the original statue. The new one was dedicated in 1996 and built with donations from Japan and Nepal. The statue stands 26m high and is made of copper with a gilt gold covering. The statue is hollow and contains 27 tons of medicinal herbs, 334 Sutras, two million bundles of mantras and an entire ger with furniture.

To the east of the temple are four colleges of Buddhist philosophy among them a yellow building dedicated to Kalachakra, a wrathful Buddhist deity.

To the west is the Ondor Gegeen Zanabazar Buddhist University, established in 1970.

Captivating ceremonies usually start around 9 AM and most chapels are closed in the afternoon.


Sukhbaatar Square was named for the “hero of the revolution”, Damdin Sukhbaater who declared Mongolia’s final independence from China.


In the center is a large bronze statue of the revolutionary astride his horse.


The National Museum of Mongolia offers visitors some interesting exhibits on Stone Age sites on the 1st floor as well as petroglyphs, stone sculptures of reindeer and other animals and burial sites from the Hun and Uighur eras. There are also some impressive gold treasures.



The Choijin Lama Temple Museum is located right in downtown and was the home of Luvsan Haidav Choijin Lama (“Choijin” being an honorary title given to some monks), the state oracle and brother of the Bogd Khan. Construction on the monastery began in 1904 and was completed four years later. To save the monastery in 1942 it was made into a museum.

You’ll find five temples on the grounds:


Maharaja Sum is the main temple and home to statues of Sakyamuni (the historical Buddha), Choijin Lama and Baltung Choimba (the teacher of the Bogd Khan, whose mummified remains are inside the statue. There are also some impressive thangka painting and some of the best tsam masks in the country. Behind the main hall is the gongkhang (protector chapel) which contains the oracle’s throne and a magnificent Statue of Yab-Yum (mystic sexual union).

The other temples are Zuu Sum, dedicated to Sakyamuni.

Yadam Sum, containing wooden and bronze statues of various gods, some the artwork of famous Mongolian sculptor Zanabazar.

Amagalan Sum contains a self-portrait of Zanabazar and a small stupa brought by him from Tibet.


Winter Palace of the Bogd Khan was built between 1893 and 1903, where Mongolia’s eighth Living Buddha and last king, Jebtzun Damba Hutagt VIII (often referred to as Bogd Khan), lived for 20 years. This palace was turned into a museum.

There are six temples on the grounds and each of them contains Buddhist artwork including sculpture and thangka. To the right is the Winter Palace itself, containing a collection of gifts received from foreign dignitaries. Among the exhibits you’ll find Mongolia’s Declaration of Independence from China, 1911.

The Bogd Khan was interested in wildlife and you’ll see an amazing display of stuffed animals.


Another surprise in our travels is that in this city you can visit Beatles Square. Looks like the Fab Four are certainly popular all over the world. It was so named due to a new monument close to its northern end. Here you can see bronze images of Paul, John, George and Ringo on one side


and a sculpture of a young man sitting in a stairwell strumming a guitar on the other side. This sculpture represents the era in the 1970s when teenagers gathered in apartment stairwells and sang Beatles songs, which they learned from contraband records that ere smuggled from Eastern Europe. The plaza is surrounded by cafes, restaurants and cashmere shops and is a popular meeting place particularly in the summer when you can relax by the fountains.


The Zaisan Memorial is a tall, thin landmark on top of a hill south of the city. It was built by the Russians to commemorate “unknown soldiers and heroes” from various wars. Here you can get the best views of Ulaanbaater and the surrounding hills. At the bottom of the hill is an enormous tank which was part of the Mongolia People’s Tank Brigade that saw action against the Nazi’s during WW II. Eventually this site will also include restaurants, theaters and there will be cultural activities.



Mongolian National Modern Art Gallery at times called the Fine Art Gallery has large and impressive displays of modern and uniquely Mongolian paintings and sculptures. They depict nomadic life, people and landscapes ranging from Impressionistic to Nationalistic.


The most famous work here is from 1958 “The Fight Of The Stallions” by Ochir Tsevegjav.


The entrance is in the courtyard of the Cultural Palace. The main gallery is on the 3rd floor and temporary exhibits are on the 2nd floor.


Buddha Park is a peaceful park with an 18m-tall standing statue of Sakyamuni. It was erected in 2007 and five tons of juniper were placed inside. Below the statue is a small room with thangkas, sutras and images of Buddha and his disciples. The Zaisan Memorial is right next door.

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Posted by: Rasma R | March 1, 2017

Ashgabat, Turkmenistan


Located in Central Asia Turkmenistan is bordered by the Caspian Sea and a great part of it is covered by the Karakum Desert. It lies along the ancient trade route the Silk Road.


The capital Ashgabat is the largest city and is located between the Karakum Desert and the Kopet Dag Mountain range. It was rebuilt in the Soviet style in the mid-20s.


The National Museum sits in front of the Kopet Dag. It is actually a combination of three museums = the History Museum, the Nature & Ethnographic Museum and the Presidential Museum.

The Ancient History Hall has displays of Neolithic tools from western Turkmenistan and relics from the Bronze Age Margiana civilization including lovely amulets, seal cups and cult items. The Antiquity Hall also has many impressive displays.


You’ll be amazed by the Arch of Neutrality which was built to celebrate the endorsement of Turkmenbashi’s policy of neutrality in 1998.


Above the arch you can see a 12m-high gold statue of Niyazov (former leader of Turkmenistan). The statue was created to follow the sun throughout the day. Today it no longer revolves.


The large and modern Carpet Museum has a white marble facade. The highlight here  is the world’s largest hand-woven rug. The “expert commission” has carpets valued and taxed and give the necessary documents for export.


The Museum of Fine Arts is housed in an impressive building with a big rotunda and two tiers. They display a collection of impressive Soviet-Turkmen artwork. On display is also a collection of Russian and Western European paintings and a fine selection of Turkmen jewelry and traditional costumes. There are guided tours in English.


In the center of the city you’ll find Independence Square. here visitors can see the gold-domed Palace of Turkmenbashi,


the Ministry of Fairness, the Ministry of Defense


and the Ruhyyet Palace.


Behind the square you can see the Earthquake Memorial, in bronze, depicting a bull and child and the Earthquake Museum.


Then there is the Soviet War Memorial with an eternal flame

Universiteit van Ashgabat

and finally the Magtymguly State University which is the country’s leading educational institution.


The Earthquake Museum can be found beneath the Earthquake Memorial. Here visitors can see photos of pre-1948 earthquakes and find information of the clean-up effort and the building of a new city.

Lenin in Ashgabad

The Statue of Lenin is found in a small park. The statue sits upon a huge Central Asian style plinth surrounded by fountains.


Behind the statue you’ll see the modern Magtymguly Theater where you can see Turkmen performances.


The Altyn Asyr Shopping Center was built in a pyramid shape. It is found at the southern end of Independence Square and supposedly  the biggest fountain in the world. There is a restaurant which offers great views of the city.


Independence Park offers visitors


the Monument to the Independence of Turkmenistan. It is a popular spot to take wedding photos with a golden statue of Turkmenbashi.


Nearby is a giant copy of the Ruhnama or Book of the Soul.


At the southern end of Independence Park you’ll see the huge Palace of Knowledge with a golden dome which consists of three buildings that include a library, conert hall and the Turkmenbashi Museum. The museum houses all of the gifts and awards presented to former Presiden Niyazov.


The Marriage Palace is a civil registry palace.


Visitors are impressed with the Azadi Mosque.

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Posted by: Rasma R | February 25, 2017

Dushanbe, Tajikistan


Tajikistan is located in Central Asia surrounded by Afghanistan, China, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. The country is known for its rugged mountains. Tourists love to hike and climb.

The capital is Dushanbe, the largest city in the country. In the Tajik language Dushanbe means Monday. Perhaps this is the place where everyone can lose their Monday blues. The reason it was so named was that the city grew out of a village which originally had a popular market on Mondays. Visitors will notice that there is a blend of ancient and Soviet-era architecture. After the dangerous Civil War during the 1990s the city has become an oasis of calm.


The National Museum of Antiquities of Tajikistan opened its doors in 2013. Here visitors can delight in archaeological exhibits, both real and recreated. To get a view of how things looked in the 7th century take a look at the reconstruction of the Ajina-Tepe Buddhist Monastery site.


There is a 13m long sleeping Buddha which dates from the Kushan era and is the largest known Buddha figure in Central Asia.

Most labels include English translations. There are some impressive pieces of artwork in the art gallery on the top floor.


The Gurminj Museum is hidden within a private family compound. This museum has a collection of antique musical instruments from all across Central Asia. Local musicians like to gather here for jam sessions.


The Dushanbe Flagpole is the world’s second tallest flag mast at 165m and was built to commemorate 20 years of independence. It is the centerpiece of Dushanbe’s growing ensemble of fountain-parks and public buildings among them the new National Library


and the gold-domed Palace of Nations government building.


Take a stroll in the extensive and lovely Botanical Gardens.


The east-central entrance gateway was designed in the ancient Iranian style. There are beautiful flowers, many trees and beautifully carved wooden pavilions.


Ismoil Somoni Statue is the city’s most visible monument. Ismoil Somoni was the 10th century founder of the Samanid dynasty.


Right behind him rises the Parchan, a tall white marble column topped by a golden emblem reminding one of ancient Roman times.

dush-writers-union-2.You can see Tajikistan’s Persian past in the facade of the Writer’s Union Building. The building resembles a medieval cathedral with sculpted-stone figures of Sadruddin Ayni, Omar Khayam, Firdausi and other writers from the Persian pantheon.


World’s Biggest Teahouse is rising near Komsomol Park. It is better referred to as the Palace of Cultural Entertainment and Special Events. Here you’ll find formal conference rooms, a bowling alley, billiard hall and ballroom.


Rudaki Park is a wonderful scenic park for strolling. This is a lovely landscaped garden right in the heart of Dushanbe. The park is surrounded by impressive landmarks and buildings.


There are fountains, statues and manicured lawns. Many beautiful flowers to enjoy.


Here you’ll find the monument to the 9th century poet Rudaki upon his pond-fronted garden plinth, beneath an impressive blue mosaic arc of stars.


Steps to Victory Park

Victory Park offers the best views over the city especially at sun set.

Victory Park WWII Monument

See the impressive WW II Monument.


The National Library opened its doors in 2011 and is Central Asia’s biggest.

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Posted by: Rasma R | February 22, 2017

Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan


Kyrgyzstan is a rugged country in Central Asia along the Silk Road which is the ancient trade route between China and the Mediterranean. The Tian Shan Mountains dominate the country. This is home to snow leopards, lynx and sheep.


Bishkek is the capital and the gateway to the Kyrgyz Ala-Too Mountains and Ala Archa National Park with glaciers and wildlife trails.

The State History Museum on Bishkek's main Ala-Too Square.

The State Historical Museum is a marble-faced cube built in 1984. It has faux-bronze/copper reliefs and bold ceiling murals. It was formerly the Lenin Museum. Here you can see a series of photos and mementos from the 2010 revolution and portraits of that year’s martyrs. On the top floor is a section on ethnology and archaeology and there are photos from the museum’s rich collection of Scythian gold.


On the south side of the museum you’ll see an enormous statue of Lenin.

Al Halal Gallery is a small, top-quality modern art gallery. Here you can get to know all about Bishkek’s art scene. Visitor’s might be invited to the artists’ studio building  – Druzhba 3. Some talented local artists among them Andrei Zotov have their own online galleries.


The State Museum of Fine Arts has a neo-Classical facade. Here you will find collections of Kyrgz embroidery and felt rugs. There are impressive paintings and interesting reproductions of Egyptian and classical statues.


In the Ala-Too Square you’ll find a statue of Manas, Bishkek’s nominal center.There are soldiers on guard by the national flagpole and every two hours you can see a change of guard. In the summer the square has floral displays and a musical fountain show.


Dubovy (Oak) Park is a most pleasant centrally located park. Here you can see painters selling their artwork. There is a sculpture garden among the mighty oaks here


and a statue of Kumanian Datka, the 19th century heroine who is featured on Kyrgyzstan’s 50som banknote.


The WWII Monument commemorates the 40th anniversary of the end of WWII. This monument was designed to evoke three symbolic yurt struts that curve above an eternal flame. It sits on Freedom Square.


Pantilov Park a park that reflects the Soviet era. It has some amusements and a Ferris Wheel that offers great views of the city.


Burana Tower stands seven km. from the city of Tokmok. This is an 11th century minaret and one of the first buildings of this kind in Central Asia. The tower stands 24.6 meters high.

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Posted by: Rasma R | February 16, 2017

Astana, Kazakhstan


Kazakhstan is a Central Asian country and a former Soviet republic. The borders of the country extend from the Caspian Sea in the west to the Altai Mountains at the east border with China and Russia.


The capital city is Astana along the Ishim River in the north of the country. The left bank is ultramodern with impressive architecture.


The city’s most extraordinary building is the Khan Shatyr, a 150m-high translucent structure that resembles a tent. It is made of ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE), a heat-absorbing material that produces summer temperatures inside even though outside it is -30 degrees C. This is a “lifestyle center with world-class shopping”. The interiors has multi-levels and a food court.


Attractions here include a drop tower, flume ride and a 500m-long monorail. On the top level you’ll find the Sky Beach Club with a big swimming pool, sandy beach, palm trees and water slide. All of this was opened in 2010 and designed by celebrated British architect Norman Foster.


The Presidential Cultural Center is yurt-shaped and home to an excellent museum. The highlight here is on the second floor where you can find outstanding collections of Kazakh jewelry and gold-makings. Among them are gold jewelry and replicas from the Scythian burial mounds at Berel and the Issyk burial mound (where the Golden Man was found), replicas of the Golden Man and the “second Golden Man” from western Kazakhstan, a bejeweled replica of a horse from the Berel tomb and the innards of a real 4th century BC horse preserved in formaldehyde.

The ground floor has models of Astana buildings and a room full of traditional Kazakh items. The third floor has displays of Kazakhstan from the 15th to 20th centuries.


Palace of Peace & Accord is a lovely glass and steel pyramid opened in 2006. This is the home for the triennial Congress of World and Traditional Religions, hosted by Kazakhstan. There are half-hour tours also in English available where you can see the 1350-seat opera hall, the 3rd floor atrium where the religions congress is held and the apex conference room with windows filled with stained-glass doves by British artist Brian Clarke. It is beautifully illuminated at night.


The centerpiece of Nurzhol Bulvar is the 97m-high Bayterek monument, a white latticed tower that is crowned by a large glass orb. According to a Kazakh legend the mythical bird Samruk lays a golden egg that contains the secrets of human desires and happiness in a tall poplar tree, beyond human reach. Visitors glide by lift up inside the egg and enjoy impressive views of the city.


The Palace of Independence offers visitors a look at a huge scale model of how Astana plans to look in 2030. There is an interesting ethnographic hall with various exhibits. Tours in English are available.


In front of the palace you’ll see the 91m-high Kazak Yeli Monument which symbolizes the historic destiny of the Kazakhstan people.


It is topped by a golden Samruk, statues of heroic batyrs or clan leaders stand behind and a 5m bronze relief of President Nazarbaev at the base.


The National Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan is a huge blue-glass-and-white-marble museum. There are themed halls with interactive displays and exhibits of artifacts that range from a full-sized yurt in the Hall of Ethnography to a chronicle of the capital’s modern history in the Hall of Astana. The Golden Hall has Bronze Age ornaments from the famed “Golden Man” (now national symbol of Kazakhstan) – a 3rd or 4th century warrior whose gold-clad remains were uncovered in 1969.

The museum opened in 2014. Visitors come into the grandiose entry hall and see a giant golden eagle whose wings flap serenely as an interactive screen describes Kazakhstan in all its glory. Audio guides are available in English. There is a small cafe.


It is worth visiting Duman Entertainment Center, a modern leisure center known for its oceanarium.


There are more than 2000 creatures of the deep from the world’s oceans and a 70m shark tunnel.


The City Park is located on the south side of the Ishim River. Here you’ll find the Atameken, a 200m-long, walk around country map with models of major buildings. The Duman is here also.


Ploshchad Poyushchykh Fontanov this plaza is at the eastern half of the Nurzhol Bulvar and offers music-and-water shows at 9PM on summer evenings.


Toward the east you can see the twin golden-green, conical business centers. To the left are the two wings of the House of Ministries


and straight ahead the white-pillared presidential palace, the Ak Orda.


The two towers of the Parliament, the Senate and Mazhilis rise behind the northern ministerial building.


Before the Ak Orda is the turquoise-tiled Central Concert Hall whose design is meant to resemble the petals of a flower.


The Northern Lights are three light-green apartment towers with wavy sides and are a prominent feature of the western part of the boulevard.


Opposite them are the Emerald Towers, office blocks whose tops splay outward like pages of opening books.


Nur Astana Mosque is a lovely four-minaret mosque that opened in 2005. The prayer hall is for men only, women use the upper gallery. There is a multi-domed space with inscriptions and geometrical patterning in blue, white, gold and red.


Hazrat Sultan Mosque opened in 2012 and has Kazakhstan’s largest dome and lovely marbled interiors.

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Posted by: Rasma R | February 14, 2017

Almaty, Kazakhstan


Kazakhstan is a Central Asian country and a former Soviet republic. The borders of the country extend from the Caspian Sea in the west to the Altai Mountains at the east border with China and Russia.

al Almaty is the country’s largest metropolis sitting at the foothills of the Trans-lli Alatau Mountains. It was the capital until 1997 and today is still Kazakhstan’s trading and cultural hub.


The Central State Museum is the city’s best museum. It offers visitors a look at the history of Kazakhstan from the Bronze Age to telecommunications to the transfer of the capital to Astana. There are many lovely artifacts.


In the entrance hall you’ll find a large replica of the Golden Man.


Camel statue in front of museum

Downstairs are archaeological finds and the early history up to Ghengis Khan. Next to it is the “Open Collection” exhibiting outstanding ancient gold adornments. Hall 2 has an ethnographic display. Upstairs visitors will see wonderful weaponry, horse and camel gear, musical instruments and exotic costumes dating to the 18th century. Halls 3 and 4 have displays on the 20th and 21st centuries.


Kok Tobe is a 1100m hill on the southeast edge of the city.


Atop of it you’ll find a 372m-high TV tower which is visible from all points in the city. You can get to the top by cable car.


At the top you’ll find different cafes and restaurants, craft shops a roller-coaster, a mini zoo and a children’s playground. These are all things that you could expect to find in such a place that attracts tourist.


What you might not expect to find is the life-size bronze statue of The Beatles place here on demand by fans in 2007. This is the impressive work of Almaty sculptor Eduard Kazaryan and is supposedly the only monument in the world with the Fab Four together.


Panfilov Park is a large and attractive park in the center of the city. It is popular for strolling and relaxing.



At the heart of the park is the candy-colored Zenkov Cathedral. The cathedral was designed by AP Zenkov in 1904 and built entirely of wood.


The park was named for the Panfilov Heroes, 28 soldiers of an Almaty infantry unit who died fighting off Nazi tanks in a village outside Moscow in 1941. The Panfilov Infantry were true heroes who were tragically sacrificed by Stalin to stop the Nazi tank attack. They were not equipped with any kind of weapons and had to literally stop the tanks with their own bodies.


They have been commemorated by a large war memorial, depicting soldiers from all 15 Soviet Republics. An eternal flame burns here.


Green Market is a fascinating large, two-level market that offers visitors the true flavor of Central Asia. You can see stalls piled high with nuts, fresh and dried fruit, smoked fish, spices, ready-made Korean salads, vegetables, medicinal herbs, cheeses, sausages and fresh meat. There is fermented horse and camel milk. Freshly squeezed pomegranate juice. At the cafes you can get bowls of noodles or fried rice with vegetables.


Kazakhstan Museum of Arts offers the best art collection in the country. Here you’ll find displays of Kazakh, Russian and some Western European art. There is a room of top-class modern Kazakh handicrafts. There are explanations in English. Highlights include Russia’s Mir Iskusstva movement and the large collection of paintings by Kazakh Abylkhan Kasteev (1904 – 73).


 Central (Gorky) Park is Almaty’s biggest recreation park.


There are lakes for boating, fun rides, pony rides, an Aquapark, a small zoo, cinema, cafes and shashlyk and beer stands. The park is most popular with families on Sundays and holidays.

al-respublika-alany-squareRespublika Alany is a wide Soviet-created ceremonial square which provides a panoramic view of snowcapped mountains on a clear morning.

al-independence-monument The highlight of the square is the Independence Monument is a most interesting monument. This is a stone column that is surrounded by a replica Golden Man standing on a winged snow leopard. Around its base are statues of a Kazakh family. Behind the monument is a semicircular wall of low-relief bronze sculptures that depict scenes from Kazakhstan’s history from Golden Man times on the left to Nazarbaev to the right.


Central Mosque is a multi-towered, gold-domed central mosque of white marble. It was built in 1999 and is one of the largest in the country. The mosque has room for 3,000 worshippers and has a finely decorated main prayer hall. It is open to visitors daily except Fridays. Women must be covered head to foot.



Dawn Of Freedom Monument for the victims of the 1986 December protests.


Take a stroll along the pedestrianized Zhibek Zholy. Here you’ll find inexpensive cafes, a few buskers and kitsch art stands.

al-lake-2 Big Almaty Lake is located just a thirty minute drive south of Almaty. It is located in the beautiful Zailiysky Alteau Mountain Range. Here you can enjoy hiking and picnicking. It is a lovely spot and depending on the time of year the lake can be green, turquoise or even grayish. The surrounding forest is amazing.

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Posted by: Rasma R | February 9, 2017

Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Panorama of an ancient city of Khiva, Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan is a Central Asian nation and former Soviet republic. The nation is known for its mosques, mausoleums and other sites which are linked to the Silk Road an ancient trade route between China and the Mediterranean.


 Tashkent the capital of Uzbekistan is known for its many museums and mix of modern and Soviet-era architecture.


One of the oldest bazaars in Tashkent is Alay Bazaar. It began in the 12th – 13th centuries on Mount Alay. At first it was a trading place on the trade route from East Turkestan in the Fergana Valley. It became a full-fledged bazaar in the 19th century. Today it is a place where you can buy eastern sweets, fruit and other foods. There is also a flea market where various goods are sold and its known for its two-story complex of jewelry selling silver and gold. The bazaar as such is an integral part of Eastern culture.


Chorsu Bazaar is the city’s famous farmers market, topped by a giant green dome just off the Old Town’s southern edge. You can find lots to like here including fresh spices, dairy products, bread and candy. Fruit such as pomegranates, melons, persimmons and others. Souvenir hunters can find colorful sitting mats, skull caps, traditional cloaks and interesting knives.


The Palace of Prince Romanov is an unusual monument once the residence of Prince Romanov. It was built in 1891 right in the city center. It is a one-story private residence where the grandson of Emperor Nicholay I lived.

This impressive building is richly decorated with carved grids, unusually shaped windows, towers and other decorative elements. Since the duke was a hunter the front entrance was decorated with bronze figures of deer and hunting dogs. In the back is a large garden that was laid out by the famous Tashkent botanist and pharmacist I.I. Krause. Today the building is used as the Reception House of the MFA of Uzbekistan.



Tillya Sheikh Mosque Friday mosque of the 19th century is one of the largest mosques in Tashkent. It consists of the winter building, summer yard, dome in the center and dome gallery.

There are huge minarets and inside there is a spiral staircase which is climbed in order to call upon all the faithful to prayer.


Amir Timur Square in the center of the city was named after Amir Timus, the commander and founder of a huge medieval empire. It was established by order of General M. Chernyaev in 1882.


In the center of the square is a monument to Amir Timus, an outstanding commander and statesman of the XIV century, who managed to found a centralized united state composing of 27 countries in the vast territory from the Mediterranean Sea to India. The monument represents a bronze figure of Amir Timur with imperial regalia on a reared horse. The plinth is engraved with his famous motto in four languages “Power is in Justice”.


The square is surrounded by various buildings such as the Forums Palace built in 2009 where important state and international events are held. The building is decorated with majestic columns and its dome reaches almost 48m in height, its peak crowned with stork figures.


 The Amir Timur Museum holds exhibits dedicated to the epoch of Timur and the Tiumrid dynasty. There is a copy of the Ottoman Koran in the central hall on the ground floor. The walls of the halls are decorated by the best artists in Uzbekistan, depicting scenes from Timur’s life.


On the Square the most famous architectural monument is the Tashkent Chime. It was constructed in 1947 and is the symbol of Tashkent. The famous clock mechanism was brought from the German city of Allenstein. Today it is a combination of old and new chimes.


The German Kirche is a Gothic building that overlooks age-old trees. This is an Evangelical Lutheran Church and is the only Lutheran Church in Tashkent. It was built in 1899. The church was built of brown-yellow brick.


In the center of the city you’ll find Independence Square. This is a lovely place with beautiful fountains. Here you can see an Independence Monument in the form of a globe with Uzbekistan’s borders outlined on it. This is where important events are held such as Uzbekistan Independence Day on September 1 and New Year’s on January 1. During the celebrations there are musicians, clowns and rope-dancers.


The central figure of the square is sixteen marble columns joined by a bridge, supporting the sculptures of storks who symbolize peace and quietness from the earliest times. There are green zones and beautiful fountains from both sides that stretch from the colonnade to the Independence Monument. Beneath the monument is a figure of a woman holding a baby in her arms – a symbol of Mother-Motherland.


The highest construction in Central Asia is the TV Tower with an overall height of 375 meters. This tower has the ability of withstand Richter magnitude 9 earthquake. The lattice-style tower trunk is supported by three inclined slips. It can be seen from all over the city. There is a 100m viewing platform and you can even go up to the next level at 220m. At 110m there is a revolving restaurant.


The Crying Mother Monument is fronted by an eternal flame. It was constructed in 1999 to honor the 400,000 Uzbek soldiers who died in WW II. The niches along two corridors house their names.


Alisher Navoi Monument is found on a vast promenade and is a post-Soviet monument in honor of Alisher Navoi, Uzbekistan’s newly chosen cultural hero.

The monument is located in one of the greatest city parks Alisher Navoi National Park. tash-national-parkThere are ornamental flower gardens and places for relaxation.

Heading south you’ll find amusement park rides and a large man-made lake where you can hire paddle boats in the warmer months.


The State Art Museum of Uzbekistan was established in 1918 and holds 100 artworks of sculpture, paintings, drawings, porcelain by Russian and Western European master from the collections of Prince Romanov and other private collectors.


The State Museum of History of Uzbekistan is one of the oldest museums in Central Asia and was founded 136 years ago. The museum lists more than 250,000 exhibits from primitive times to the present. The museum has four floors. The first floor has an exhibition gallery for modern exhibitions of various themes held periodically. On the second floor visitors discover the history of Uzbekistan from ancient times to the Timurid era. The third floor has exponents of the period of three khanates of Uzbekistan history and the fourth floor has exhibitions of the latest history of the 19th – 20th centuries.

The museum has a gift shop where you can purchase item of Uzbek applied arts like embroidery, carpets, miniatures and ceramics.


Mirzo Ulubek Recreation Park is one of the first and best recreation parks in Tashkent. There is an artificial pond, many trees and benches for relaxation. For both adults and children there are amusement rides and attractions.


Gafur Gulyan Park is one of the greenest parks covering 23 acres. There are many different kinds of attractions. In the center of the park is a small green island with various wildlife.


Earthquake Memorial to remember the men and women who rebuilt Tashkent after the 1966 earthquake.


Ankhor Canal is found on the shoreline of Ankhor River. It is a most picturesque place and popular with people who enjoy swimming all year round.


Tashkent Botanical Garden for more than fifty years thousands of plants from all over the world have been collected here. There are various lovely natural zones. Visitors will find more than 4500 kinds of trees, flowers and other plants. The botanical garden is divided into five parts, corresponding to the flora of Central Asia, Eastern Asia, North America and Europe including natural zones of Crimea, Caucasus and the Far East.

In the late spring you can see pink lotuses blooming in a small pond. Paths lead you about the gardens. A good starting point is the Hill of Wishes.

There are greenhouses, hothouses and a special nursery for medicinal herbs. The greenhouses have various exotic plants from tropical and subtropical countries. You can even picnic here and enjoy the surrounding nature.


The Tashkent Zoo was founded in 1924. The zoo started out small and soon grew with a collection of 200 kinds of animals. In 1994 a new zoo was built by international requirements and standards. Since 1998 the zoo is a member of Euro-Asian Regional Association of Zoos and Aquariums.


Today there are 349 kinds of animals – mammals, reptiles, birds and fishes living in open-air cages.


The zoo is particularly proud of their Aquarium with sea creatures like sharks, moral eels, turtles and more.


In 2009 their collection included exotic animals from Malaysia among them Malaysian bears.

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Posted by: Rasma R | February 5, 2017

Chisinau, Moldova


The country of Moldova is also known as Moldavia and officially as the Republic of Moldova. It’s a landlocked country in Eastern Europe bordered by Romania to the west and Ukraine to the north, east and south.


The capital is Chisinau with impressive Soviet-style architecture and many amazing landmarks such as the neo-Classical Nativity Cathedral. The city is the largest in Modova and its main transport hub. Chisinau dates back to 1420, a great deal of it was leveled in WW II and during an earthquake in 1940. From the 1950s onward it was rebuilt in Soviet style.


Stefan cel Mare Central Park is the main park in Central Chisinau. It was formerly known as Pushkin Park. This is the oldest park in Moldova and stretches for 7 hectares. Residents have nicknamed it “The Park of the Lovers’” since it is a popular meeting place for couples. The park has 50 species of trees among which the mulberries and acacias are between 130 and 180 years old.


At the entrance to the park is the statue of Stefan cel Mare or Stephan the Great erected in 1928. This monument was designed by sculptor Alexandru Plamadeata. He was Moldova’s greatest medieval prince and ubiquitous symbol of Moldova’s brave past.


The main entrance to the park is marked by the Holy Gates or also known as Chisinau’s Arc de Triomphe. The arc dates from the 1840s and marks the centre of the city. It was built to commemorate the victory of the Russian army over the Ottoman Empire. It is often draped with the Moldovan flag in the middle.

There are merry-go-rounds and swings for children. As you go walking you’ll see that there are various stalls that sell kvass, wine, fruit and sweets. During WW II a communal grave to Soviet soldiers was established here. There is the wooden, two-theater Rodina cinema, a gymnasium and a hothouse.


The park has four fountains with the main one located right in the center, where all the paths and alleys meet.

The Avenue of the Classics of Moldovan Literature was opened in the park in 1958. Here you can see the statues and busts of Romanian and Moldovan authors and social figures. The entrance to the avenue is guarded by marble lions.

During Soviet times, the Alley of Friendship was created. Here prominent guest of the city planted trees. In 2009 free park WiFi access was launched.


The highlight of the park is the Nativity of Christ Metropolitan Cathedral. Dating from the 1830s with its lovely bell tower. This is the city’s main Moldovan Orthodox church. It has rich interior frescoes.


Facing the statue of Stephan the Great is the Parliament House.


Opposite the Parliament House you’ll find the impressive Presidential Palace.


The Army Museum has found its home in the Center of Culture and Military History. The museum offers an exhibit on Soviet-era repression with stories of Red Terror, forced famines, mass deportations and gulag slave labor all told through photos, videos, newspaper clippings and dioramas. On display are interrogation rooms and items including Soviet propaganda posters and Cheka and NKVD uniforms.


The National Museum of Ethnography & Natural History offers such fascinating displays as the life-size reconstruction of the skeleton of a dinothere, an 8-tonne elephant-like mammal that lived during the Pliocene epoch. There are dioramas of national costumes.


The National Art Museum displays an interesting collection of contemporary European art, folk art and medieval items. At times there are also temporary exhibitions.


The Pushkin Museum is where Russia’s national poet Alexander Pushkin spent three years exiled between 1820 and 1823. Visitors can see his tiny cottage, filled with original furnishings and personal items, including a portrait of his beloved Byron on his writing desk. In the building facing the cottage is a three-room literary museum which documents Pushkin’s life. It was here that he wrote “The Prisoner of the Caucasus” English-language excursions have to be booked in advance.


For free tasting tours you have to call ahead to register at the Chisinau Brewery. This brewery is the oldest in Moldova and make the popular Chisinau Beer. Today the brewery is owned by Turkish beer giant Efes. It is located just east of the center in Ciocana.


Repression Memorial is a unique monument to the victims of mass deportation under Stalin.


The Government House is where the cabinet meets. This is a massive building that stand opposite the Arc de Triomphe. It is noted for its Soviet-style architecture.


The National Library is a building worth taking a look at. The area in front of the library has many cafes.

The Botanical Garden tourism destinations

The Chișinău Botanical Garden was established in 1973 and stretches for 83 hectares. It is located in the Durlesti Creek Valley. The garden has sectors with elements of forest vegetation in Moldova. Among the woody species rare for Moldova grow – Ginkgo biloba, Tsuga Canadian Douglas fir, cypress Arizona larch and others.


Valley Mills Park was established in 1950 and originally known as the “Central Park of Culture and Rest Leninist Komsomol”. The park is in a lovely location on the shores of Lake Mills Valley. In the park you can find many different species of trees such as chestnuts, acacia and maple among others.  The lake has carps and ducks swim upon the water. The park has a summer theater, children’s town “Andries” beach and station boats.


Cascade scale of the park has 218 steps and is longer than the famous scale of Potemkin in Odessa which has 200.


The Chisinau Water Tower is an architectural monument. It was built at the end of the 19th century and was a main part of the city’s water system.


Chisinau Zoo among the animals here you can see the Przewalski horse, Banteng tiger, Turkmen kulan, European beaver and others. There are also many different species of birds such as the step eagle, black vulture and mandarin duck.


A large pond surrounded by greenery has become home to a variety of waterfowl such as geese, ducks and mute swans. On the banks visitors delight to see long-legged storks and herons.


Feeding the animals is forbidden but under the supervision of zoo staff you can feed curious Bactrian camels and the Markhor.

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