Here’s another fabulous entry from our Travel Writing competition (which is now closed). We’ll be selecting a winner soon, but in the meantime, enjoy this little gem from Jesse Lund.
Recently gaining momentum, 3-D technology plans to change the way we watch movies and television. Touted as the ultimate viewing experience, the simple addition of depth allows our eyes to more accurately perceive images giving the same fullness we experience in real life.
Superimposing two offset images forms the basic process for creating depth. Our eyes collect information from each image and our brain interprets the difference as the perceived depth.
What if we took that same principle and applied it to traveling? Could we create a lifetime experience with more depth than we originally perceived?
Overlay one city with a European influence on top of another with a distinctly Middle-Eastern culture and you arrive at Istanbul, Turkey. The convergence of these separate images creates a place so rich in depth it will tantalize your every sense.
The historical influence alone barely seems digestible. Influences from the greatest empires stretching more than 2,000,000 square miles come together in a city 1/1000th the size. Almost as if a funnel was placed over the area, the Byzantines, Romans, & Ottomans deposited their cultures into the top with Istanbul emerging as the result.
The symbolic representation of these influences could not be clearer than at the Sultan Ahmet Park. In one direction the Hagia Sofia from the Byzantine & Roman era engulfs the surrounding landscape yet a slight turn in the body overwhelms your view with the magnificent Blue Mosque from the Ottoman Empire.
The seamless transitions between ancient relics and modern civilization only add to the city’s perplexity. Strolling through the extensively restored Rumeli fortress, you may have forgotten the Porsche Carreras and BMW 7-series lining the streets along the waterfront homes before being transported to the 15th century.
Not only historically significant, the Galata Tower provides a flawless perch for an appreciation of the city’s geographical depth. Across the sweeping panoramic view of the Golden Horn lies the Asian continent just beyond the waters of the Bosphorus. Before fully comprehending what your eyes have soaked in, almost immediately you’re reminded the city in that continent is the same exact city you’re standing in right now.
But Istanbul offers so much more beyond these historical monuments. The mixed aroma of fresh spices and hookah smoke as you wander through the local bazaar. The startled pigeons take flight as the low bellowing for the call to prayer echoes from the nearest megaphone. The randomly yet satisfyingly customized waffle cones and stuffed potatoes along the banks of the Bosphorus in Ortakoy. A shop owner less interested in selling his kilims than in learning about your travels as he serves tea.
Each element of the city adds another layer to its depth. A cacophony of people, traditions, and beliefs – Istanbul somehow maintains a delicate balance of constant contrast allowing visitors to enjoy every dimension of its being, creating a truly enriching experience along the way.
– Jesse Lund