Honour, Heels and Headscarves: Real-Life Stories of Women from Istanbul

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Through the real-life stories of these four Turkish women, in " Honour, Heels and Headscarves", journalist Carla de la Vega delves into the current situation of women in Turkey; a country in constant struggle between the Islamic traditions of the East and the imported secularism of the West. Carla de la Vega Madrid, is a journalist and writer.

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Published by Carla de la Vega, Used Condition: Good Soft cover. Save for Later. Shipping: Free Within U. About this Item Ships with Tracking Number! May not contain Access Codes or Supplements. May be ex-library. But given that you're surrounded by no fewer than three waterways the Sea of Marmara is just to the south , six of the city's seven hills, scores of minarets, and untold relics spread over 2, years, you'll be in need of a quick history and geography lesson, and Earl Starkey's expert guides put most academics to shame.

From here, you're well positioned for a coffee break.

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A shot of Turkish coffee sade, or plain and a bite of the double pistachio baklava and you'll be sprinting to your next stop, Galata Tower. Built as a lookout by Genoese traders in the fourteenth century, the foot stone tower delivers an even more spectacular view than the one from the bridge. From the outdoor observation deck, you can see straight across the Golden Horn to the Old City, beyond the Bosphorus to Asia, and over the tangled streets of Galata. The tower is, not surprisingly, one of the city's most popular attractions, but you've avoided the mobs by arriving late in the day, and just in time to hear the sunset call to prayer from the surrounding mosques echo across the red-tiled rooftops.

From here, you can wander the narrow alleyways of the hilly Galata district, where smart boutiques have begun to crop up amid the rare-book sellers and the music shops, or make your way toward Istiklal Caddesi, the pedestrian-only shopping street that buzzes night and day. Istiklal continues all the way to teeming Taksim Square, but you'll be veering off long before for a dinner of mezes and fresh fish at a meyhane , the Turkish version of a tavern. Few serve straight tobacco these days, and most patrons, young and old, order the apple-flavored shisha , along with cay tea , while chatting over a game of backgammon—or into their iPhones—long into the night.

This is not the day to skip breakfast. Turkish breakfasts are one of life's great pleasures, and even modest hotels put out a sumptuous spread of olives, ruby-red tomatoes, cucumbers, salty cheeses, yogurt, honey, and simit , the sesame bagel's hunkier brother. Fill up. You'll need sustenance for the long day ahead.

In the interest of time, you'll be seeing all of Sultanahmet's top attractions today, but if you can extend your trip, consider saving Topkapi Palace for another day. You'll be rolling into ancient Byzantium no later than 9 a.

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Built years ago, the mosque is actually the new kid on the block: Most of the neighborhood's other star sights date back 14 to 35 centuries. The Greeks established the trading town of Byzantium here even earlier, but when the Romans declared it their new capital in the fourth century, they ushered in gentrification on an imperial scale.

The Blue Mosque was commissioned on a whim by the pious young Sultan Ahmet I he also built the slave market, near the Grand Bazaar, around the same time , and it takes its name from the thousands of blue floral tiles that line the interior. Unfortunately, the prettiest ones, those from the village of Iznik, are in the women's galleries, high above the ground floor, which visitors can't access. Still, the city's most famous working mosque is worth a look—for its light-filled prayer hall and constellation of finely painted domes and semi-domes.

After a quick stroll around the hushed, marbled courtyard, hurry out to the Hippodrome. You'll need some imagination to see the Hippodrome for what it once was: the social center of the center of the world. Roman emperor Septimius Severus built it as a chariot-racing stadium in the third century, as restitution some say for sacking the city. But it was Constantine the Great who supersized it, renovating the old arena to seat , and ornamenting it with artworks he plundered from Europe and North Africa.


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It was his city after all. Today, only a narrow parcel remains, in the form of a manicured park around the three surviving artifacts; the most intact is a granite obelisk from Egypt, dating back to the time of the pharaohs. Just off the Hippodrome is the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts and its dazzling collection of prayer rugs, massive silk carpets, and gold-laced Korans. As you're leaving, stop outside, just above the museum garden, for the perfect photo op: a rare view of the Blue Mosque's six minarets, with the Hippodrome's obelisk in perfect alignment. A subterranean reservoir built in the sixth century, it's damp, dimly lit, and downright spooky when not too crowded.

Naturally, kids love it. Elevated platforms guide you through a forest of stone columns, many topped with beautifully carved capitals. Below lie fish-stocked pools.

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Look for the two giant heads of Medusa, one upside down, the other lying on its side; legend has it that they were upended to prevent anyone from looking straight into the Gorgon's eyes the kiss of death. Now on to Hagia Sophia. But Justinian was no saint either. A profligate spender reigning over an overtaxed, disgruntled populace, he resolved to construct the largest cathedral in the Christian world, and for some years that's what Hagia Sophia was.

Even today, although the once-glittering mosaics are dull and disfigured, the frescoes peeling, and the acres of marble riven with cracks, Hagia Sofia remains, as John Freely writes in his excellent Strolling Through Istanbul , one of the truly great buildings in the world. Standing beneath the gold-ribboned dome, gaping at the foot span that seems to float overhead, you'll instantly agree, and inevitably wonder how on earth workmen of the Middle Ages could pull off such a sophisticated engineering feat.

A couple of Greek mathematicians overseeing a team of some 10, laborers, that's how. Even more impressive—especially these days, when religious intolerance is a hot topic everywhere from Turkey to TriBeCa—is the wealth of Christian artwork that survived, battered by time and looted but not desecrated, even after the Islamic Ottomans conquered the city. Ask your guide to point out his or her favorite nooks and objects—every piece of this place has a rich backstory. Beware: It's surrounded by imposters; look for the sign that says since Do as the locals do and wash down your plate of grilled beef, spicy tomato sauce, and white bean salad with a glass of ayran , a salted yogurt drink.

Don't linger—Topkapi awaits. You've saved the best for last, and for good reason. School groups and tour buses descend on Topkapi Palace in the morning and early afternoon. By arriving around p. You'll need every minute.

And you'll see it all unfold as you wander the lavish harem, the circumcision chamber, the massive kitchens, and the exhibition rooms, which are packed with thrones, ice-cream dishes, turban accessories—you name it—all covered in precious gems. Before leaving Topkapi, head to the gardens near Baghdad Kiosk, with lovely views of the Golden Horn it's where the sultans watched the sun set.

If you've decided to divide today's itinerary in two, add a visit to the Istanbul Archaeological Museum , near Topkapi. It's crammed with antiquities starring everyone from Zeus to Alexander the Great, and requires at least two hours to see properly. After yesterday's sightseeing marathon, you'll likely groan at the thought of starting the day with another church, but take heart: This one is a small, exquisite gem, and you'll actually be spending the balance of the day wandering leisurely on Istanbul's Asian shore.


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After meeting your guide in the hotel lobby at a. Saviour, now the Chora Museum Don't let the muted brick exterior fool you: Inside is a collection of fourteenth-century Byzantine mosaics and frescoes, so splendidly restored and radiant—all the gold tiles of the Middle Ages seem to have been used here—that even the most ardent non-believer may fall into a holy rapture.

Not so easily moved? Consider the mosaic of the church's builder, Theodore Metochites, kneeling in his voluminous turban before Christ, offering up his church. Metochites, one of the Byzantine noblesse, spent his considerable fortune restoring the church and its mosaics only to be run out of town by a newly throned emperor. He eventually returned, penniless, and died in the monastery next door.

You'll still be with your guide, but your driver will meet you on the other side later. Today, it's vibrantly middle-class and brimming with university students. Here, instead of shops selling cheap fezes and belly-dancer costumes, you'll find a clutch of bookstores, patisseries, and movie theaters.

A short walk from the ferry terminal is the pedestrian-only shopping mall and an outdoor fish and vegetable market that makes the selection at Whole Foods look second-rate.

A women’s theatre in rural Turkey.

This is Turkish home-style cooking at its best. Of the three outposts, one serves kebabs, another turns out savory stews and pilaf dishes, and the third does both. Nearly everything on offer can be traced to a specific province or town in southeastern Turkey, a region steeped in culinary traditions. The excellent lamb kebab with eggplant and pomegranate juice, for example, is from Kilis, a city on the Syrian border.

And the piquant lahmacun , a wafer-thin pizza topped with ground beef and garlic, is a specialty in Gaziantep.