Going to the cave churches at Goreme Open Air Museum is a treat, but it reminds one of what produced such things— persecution. We will see an underground city after this post where Christians hid. We are talking about Christianity in the first four centuries of its existence, when it was literally an underground phenomenon, and it appears to have really thrived in Cappadoccia. They do not allow you to take indoor shots of the cave churches any more so… Read more

There are few thrills more visceral in Turkey, than a balloon ride at dawn over the cave churches of Capadoccia. It’s certainly well worth rising at 4.30 in the morning, and cramming twenty four people into one giant basket under a balloon, and then singing “Up,Up and Away, in my Beautiful, my Beautiful balloon” to get to have this experience. It’s not just that you are taking a balloon ride, you can do that most anywhere. It’s that you are… Read more

In the afternoon we went first to the spice Bazaar and saw some bizarre spices, and then took a cruise on the Bosphorus for a while. The spice bazaar is part of, or next to the Grand Bazaar, now immortalized in the movie Skyfall for a motorcycle chase across the tiles of the roof of the bazaar, which Ms. Broccoli paid handsomely to repair thereafter. Istanbul is really the end of the spice road, where all those sorts of things… Read more

Hagia Sophia remains one of the most amazing buildings in the world, and in its day it was an unparalleled building in terms of the amount of open domed space without columns in the center of the building. Here it is, with its later minarets still showing, from across the way near the Blue Mosque, a nice spot for a family shot. It was Constantine who built the original Hagia Sophia on the site of a former temple of Venus…. Read more

Touring Turkey after touring Israel is like touring Texas after touring Rhode Island. The difference in size, scope, and amount of things to see is enormous. So in Turkey one has to settle for a small sampler, a Whitman’s sampler so to speak, with all kinds of Turkish delights. I suggest you sit back in your easy chair with your laptop, get a good cup of coffee, and prepare to be surprised by what amazing things there are to see… Read more

The city of David is nicely depicted in the picture above— showing how it is south of the Temple Mount. You can also see in the picture the now famous underground walkway from the pool of Siloam at the bottom of the picture all the way up to the Temple Mount itself. It was once a street above ground as shown in this recreation drawing. Here’s what it looks like today— It is that area between the Temple Mount and… Read more

The usual day walk through the old city of Jerusalem can be long, hot and tiring, so it’s important to take breaks along the way, and enjoy something to eat, and maybe an antiquities shop or two… All I can say is that the original widow would be a might surprised at that advertisement. Here’s the entrance to one of the antiquities shops….it’s hard to get past the door. After passing some of the Muslim cemetery found on the northern… Read more

A visit to Bethlehem necessarily involves stops at: 1) Shepherd’s fields; 2) the Church of the Nativity and the adjacent modern church with Jerome’s grotto; and 3) of course the olive wood shops, in this case, the best one near the Church of the Nativity called the Three Arches. Shepherd’s fields reminds us that Bethlehem was the staging ground for the raising of the lambs, to be slaughtered at the temple in Jerusalem. Thus while the scenery is bucolic, it… Read more

We moved on from Jerusalem briefly to Bethlehem, starting at the back side of Bethlehem at the Herodium, one of Herod’s many get away places, in case someone was after him. This excavation has really seen some development over the last ten years, including the likely discover of Herod’s own tomb. But it has also been an ill-fated excavation, as Ehud Netzer, the famous archaeologist who dug the site, and publicized in 2007 that he had found Herod’s tomb, died… Read more

Like most tours of the city of Jerusalem, we started at the top of the Mt. of Olives, because of course, that’s where the vendors take the pictures of a group with the Dome of the Rock and the old city lurching in the background. It is a nice view from in front of the Seven Arches Hotel (a sad old place at this point), but the shots taken from lower down the hill at the chapel known as Dominus… Read more

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