Welcome to the eighty-seventh issue of CEE News! .
I took a hiatus from writing this message last month to celebrate my wedding anniversary with my husband of 20 years. We spent a week exploring ancient sites in Istanbul, Cappadocia, and Antioch (now Antakya), then another week at the seaside town of Alayna where our in-laws have a vacation flat.
Honestly, Turkey has never been on my bucket list. But, I’m so appreciative of the opportunity to research and experience the rich culture, ancient history, beautifully preserved archeology, geography, and food that Turkey has to offer. We stayed two nights in Istanbul just steps away from the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia.
We explored the underground Basilica Cistern, commissioned in 532 AD, and constructed using 336 columns, many of which were salvaged from ruined temples. You can’t row a boat through the cistern today like James Bond did in To Russia With Love, but the cistern still offers an amazing, atmospheric world hidden beneath the streets of Istanbul.
From Istanbul, we flew to Cappadocia to learn how ancient peoples from the Hittites to early Christians carved shelter in the otherworldly hills of the region. After two nights in Cappadocia, we drove southeast to the city of Antakya on the Mediterranean Sea.
The highlight of the trip for me was staying at Antakya’s newly-constructed Museum Hotel which towers four stories over and protects the world’s largest mosaic covering about 9,000 square feet. Aside from the sheer size of the mosaic, one of the most remarkable things about it is that 13 different civilizations are believed to have contributed to it – starting with the Greeks in 300 BC to the Egyptians in the 1200s AD.
The Museum Hotel, completed in 2019, is the world’s first modern revival of an ancient heritage site. It’s an extraordinary three-dimensional intersection of time and space and a world class example of how to honor the past and collectively create 21st century architecture worthy of the space.
Sheri Nasim | President & CEO