Istanbul, formerly Constantinople, was the hub of the civilized world for centuries, and the city’s treasures remain a powerful draw. On this day, we toured four of the major sites within the historic area with a private guide thanks to Turkey Tourism and Barefoot Plus Travel. Mehmet arrived at 9 and presented an informative orientation. We soon realized he has an incredible wealth of knowledge and felt lucky to be in his presence.
Mehmet led the way as we climbed the hill to the Hippodrome of Constantine, the former chariot-racing grounds of the Romans and gathering place of the Ottomans. We stopped at the 400-ton Egyptian obelisk, originally carved with hieroglyphics around 1500 BC. We, and I suspect anyone without a guide, would miss reading the stone carvings below the monolith. They tell the story of how the massive column was raised into place using human power and ingenuity. Mehmet claimed it took 32 days.