Istanbul Study Tour

Fall 2007 marked the inaugural semester for a study tour to Istanbul, a co-curricular component of the Understanding Civilizations: Islam and the West elective course. More than twenty students opted to participate in this optional field excursion. The faculty teaching the course, Hadi Enayat, asked students to review the book Istanbul: Memories of a City by Orhan Pamuk (The Nobel Prize in Literature 2006).  The study tour was aimed at contextualizing the reading and give a firsthand experience of the city. The following locations were visited during the excursion.

Topkapi Palace.Topkapi is the former Imperial residence from where the Great Ottoman Empire was ruled. Today a spectacular museum that has one of the largest collections of Chinese and Japanese porcelain and the very famous treasury of the Royal Family.

Haghia-Sophia. The magnificent Byzantine Church is one of the finest and largest architectural works of art in the world. It has been nominated to be the eighth wonder of the world by many historians.

Blue Mosque. Sultan Ahmet Mosque is also known as the Blue Mosque for the blue tiles adorning the walls of its interior. It was built between 1609 and 1616, during the rule of Ahmed I. Like many other mosques, it also comprises a tomb of the founder, a madrasah and a hospice.

Grand Bazaar. Grand Bazaar, with around 4000 shops. is Turkey’s largest covered market offering excellent shopping, including beautiful Turkish carpets: glazed tiles and pottery: copper and brassware: apparel made of leather, cotton and wool: meerschaum pipes: alabaster bookends and ashtrays: and a variety of other goods.

Egyptian Bazaar. Egyptian Bazaar is an unforgettable excursion encompassing two continents, Europe and Asia. This is prime retail space, right at the southern end of the Galata Bridge on the Golden Horn in the Eminönü district. It was built in 1664 is filled with the fragrance of the exotic East. Spices, dried fruits, nuts and seeds, lokum (Turkish Delight) and other edibles fill most of the shops, though jewelry and other high-margin goods have begun to move in.

Suleymaniye Mosque. This is the mosque of Sultan Suleyman “The Magnificent” built in the 16th century by Sinan, one of the most famous architects of all time.

Turkish Islamic Arts Museum. The Turkish Islamic Arts Museum, across from the Blue Mosque, is a treasure-house of beautiful objects from the Ottoman (14th to 20th centuries), Seljuk (11th to 13th centuries), and earlier periods beginning in the 8th century. The best art was religious art during the Ottoman Empire, just as it was in medieval Europe.

Archeological Museums. Turkey’s archeological museums hold outstanding collections of art from the ancient Near East, Greece and Rome. When archeology became a science in the 19th century, most of the Near East was ruled by the Ottoman sultan, who gathered an impressive collection of items.