UHON Program 2008 cultural trip took twenty students to several sites in Western Turkey.
Students participated in a 1 credit fine arts seminar during the spring semester
in which they were introduced to some of the history, art, architecture and culture of Istanbul and nearby sites. They did focused research projects before the trip, then visited and documented designated sites and events while traveling. After returning home they are producing presentations about their experiences.
May 13-14: Flight to Turkey via a missed connection in New York, an unexpected rerouting through Milan, then Istanbul to Izmir. Late, late night arrival and collapse into bed.
May 15 - Day trip to Pergamum & Sardis: This morning on our way to Pergamum, we passed through a rich agricultural area with pastures full of sheep and goats, olive groves, vineyards, fig and apricot orchards. Perched on a hilltop above the modern town of Bergama, the great acropolis of Pergamum was once a busy trading center famous as a "seller of purple." It was originally settled by the Greeks and was ruled for a time by one of Alexander the Great’s generals. Here we viewed the Royal Gates, the foundations of the Temple of Zeus and the ruins of the library, which once held 200,000 volumes. Pergamum was also known as a famous medical centre and was the home of the great physician Galen. Descending the mountain for lunch in the town of Bergama, we then set off East for a visit to Sardis. Here we visited the gymnasium and the synagogue built in the 3rd century AD, making it one of the oldest synagogues in the Anatolia region of Turkey
May 16 - Day trip to Ephesus: This morning we traveled to the nearby ruins of Ephesus, once a thriving port town of 250,000 people and one of the largest ancient excavations in the world, with miles of ancient treasures still being unearthed. Today you can still see the major streets and the substantially intact remains of many structure, including the Library, Agora, Temple of Artemis, theatre, terraced homes of the wealthy with colorful mosaics and frescoes, and a panoramic view of the surrounding ancient port area. We also visited the nearby Ephesus Museum, housing some of the spectacular treasures found on the site. We were served a delicious lunch of locally grown and prepared Turkish dishes at a local handicrafts cooperative, where we learned the processes of silk production and rug weaving
May 17 - Day trip to Priene, Miletus & Didyma: Today we headed south again for a lengthy day visiting three historic Ionian League cities. The first was Priene. This breathtaking city was laid out and designed by the architect Hippodamos of Miletus in about 450 BC. Its decline by Byzantine times, due to its lack of favour with the Romans, meant that Priene is one of the most intact Hellenistic settlements. Further south we visited Miletus which changed hands and control throughout history, resulting in a collection of buildings from various periods and styles, including an impressive theater dating from 300 BC. Our last destination of the day was the massive Temple of Apollo at Didyma, once one of the leading oracles of the Greek World. We capped off a great day with a cooling splash in the beautiful Aegean Sea
May 18 - Izmir to Istanbul: This morning we took a flight from the local airport back to Istanbul. Upon arrival, we visited the Hagia Sophia (also known as Aya Sofia), the symbol of Istanbul which remains one of the world’s premier architectural wonders. We then visited the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of the Ancient Near East and the Tiled Pavilion. This complex of museums holds one of the world’s great collections of antiquities, including Assyrian, Hittite and Egyptian artifacts, classical Greek statues, carved sarcophagi, Turkish ceramics and other treasures from all over the former Ottoman Empire
May 19 - Topkapi Palace and Bosphorus cruise: This morning we visited the fascinating Topkapi Palace of the Ottoman Sultans, including the fabulously decorated harem and the Imperial Treasury. After a brief visit to the Egyptian (Spice) Bazaar, we cooled off on a Bosphorus cruise
May 20 & 21 - Free Days in Istanbul: Students were responsible for designing their own itineraries for these two days, including sites and experiences such as the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar, the 6th century Basilica Cistern, a visit to a hamam (traditional Turkish bath), and the Mosaic Museum showing the floors from the palace of Justinian