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100 journalists sail across Eurasian Istanbul waterways courtesy Turkish Airlines

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As guests of Turkish Airlines, Europe’s largest fleet in the air, over 100 journalists had a fun-filled boat cruise Friday afternoon October 21, 2016. They criss-crossed both the European and Asian parts that make up Turkey’s most populous city, Istanbul.

The purpose, according to Mr. Ilker Aycl, Chairman Turkish Airlines, was for the media to see for themselves how safe Turkey has become since the controversial botched coup attempt of July 15, 2016.

We learned some of Istanbul’s rich history between our boat cruise and bus rides, and between our two vivacious tour guides, Hakan and AJ.

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Some journalists on the cruise
Some journalists on the cruise

Istanbul is historically known as Constantinople and Byzantium. It is Turkey’s economic, cultural, and historic centre. Istanbul is a transcontinental city in Eurasia, straddling the Bosphorus strait (which separates Europe and Asia) between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea.

Istanbul’s commercial and historical center lies on the European side and about a third of its population lives on the Asian side. It ranks as the world’s 7th-largest city and Europe’s largest.

While on the short boat cruise, three magnificent sights struck everyone; the Ciragan and Beylerbeyi palaces – both built as Summer mansions smack on the sea line of Marmara – and the intercontinental suspension bridge built in 1974.

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Beylerbeyi Palace
Beylerbeyi Palace

Beylerbeyi palace was initially the residence of the Governor General of Anatolia, but between 1861-1865 it was ordered by Sultan Abdulaziz to the architects Sarkis Balyan and Agop Balyan to be rebuilt as a palace in the traditional Ottoman house style. We toured its throne, bath, bed, living, dining and waiting rooms of opulence. Beylerbeyi is built on two main floors and a basement containing kitchens and storage, and was divided into two sections; Selamlik (men’s section) and Harem. There are a total of three entrances, six state rooms and 26 smaller rooms.

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Ciragan Palace
Ciragan Palace

The Ciragan palace takes its name from the word “cerag” which means ‘torch’ in Persian. The area in which the Palace is located was called ‘Ceragan’ because of the famous Ottoman parties which were held in tulip gardens with torches. The palace was built during the reign of Sultan Abdulmecit and was designed by the Armenian architect Serkis Balyan.

The building was constructed using the financial loans that were obtained for restructuring the water system of Istanbul and the construction of a new railway. The construction took 12 years. This is the last palace built by the Ottoman Empire for the royal family. The site has been converted to a fine hotel and the other surviving buildings are now schools.

Life has gone back to normal and neither residents nor travellers have to look over their shoulders in Istanbul and Turkey’s capital city Ankara or indeed anywhere in its 81 provinces, Aycl assured journalists.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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