Liberal Arts Blog — Athens, Istanbul, Jerusalem (Part II) — Istanbul

Liberal Arts Blog — Sunday is the Joy of Humor, Food, Travel, Practical Life Tips, and Miscellaneous Day

Today’s Topic — Athens, Istanbul, Jerusalem (Part Two) — Istanbul

Last week: Athens. Next week: Jerusalem. Today: Istanbul. What connects the three cities? Well, these are the cities where my wife, Patti, and I were planning to spend the last two weeks in May. Better to take a digital trip than none at all. The goal: to learn something new about each city and share it. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.

ISTANBUL — a transcontinental city split by the Bosporus

1. On the West side: Europe. On the East Side Asia.

2. To the North, the Black Sea. To the South, the Sea of Marmara.

3. A transitional climate zone with many micro-climates. The southern parts of the city tend to be relatively warm and dry. But, overall, the humidity is high — 80% most mornings. Famous for its dense fog.

NB: The “Turkish Straits” are a combination of the Bosporus, the Sea of Marmara, and the Dardanelles. See fourth link below for an instructive map.

GREEK FROM 657 BC TO 196 BC, GRECO-ROMAN FROM 196 BC TO 1453 AD

1. Greeks from Megara took over the Thracian town of Lygos in 657BC.

2. The town, then called Byzantium, was taken over by the Romans in 196BC.

3. It was made capital of the Roman Empire in 331 AD and re-named Constantinople until its fall to the Ottomans in 1453, by which time the “Empire” was a shriveled remnant of its former self, having peaked under the reign of Justinian (527–555). See the map above.

NB: Greek, not Latin, was the dominant language in the “Roman Empire of the East.” It was also the language of the Ecumenical Councils of the Christian Church.

SHARP DROP IN THE GREEK POPULATION SINCE 1919

1. The Greek orthodox population of Istanbul has fallen from 31% in 1919 TO 0.27% today.

2. Milestones in the decline: the 1923 “population exchange between Greece and Turkey,” the 1942 wealth tax, the 1955 pogrom, and the Cyprus crises of 1963–4, 1967, and 1974.

3. The “population exchange of 1923” involved approximately 1.2 MM Greek Orthodox from Turkey and 400,000 Muslims from Greece.

YOUR TURN

So have you been to Athens? to Greece? Highlights of the trip? Anything miscellaneous to share from anywhere? Jokes? Practical life tips? Favorite foods? Random facts? This is your chance to make someone else’s day. Or to cement in your mind a memory that might otherwise disappear. Or to think more deeply about something dear to your heart. Continuity is key to depth of thought.