Need to Know

Mythological Stories of Istanbul

Visiting Istanbul is not only about the palaces, bridges and glorious buildings that decorate the city; or its natural beauty which has bewitched civilizations for centuries; or even the Bosphorus, with its waters caressing the continents of Europe and Asia. There are other ornaments of the city; legends written about Istanbul…

1. Right Across The Country of The Blind

The young Byzas was the son of Koressa from Megara, Greece, and he found his father and the other elders in the region domineering. Byzas, passionate about freedom and wanting to establish a new city, went to Delphoi with his friends. There was a soothsayer there. The soothsayer told Byzas “Your land is right across the land of the blind“. Byzas couldn’t find a blind country anywhere he went. One day, on the shore while resting on the shore, Byzas looked across at the opposite shore. There were people living there. “While there is such a land here, why do these people live on the opposite side? Are these people blind?” he asked himself. At that, the soothsayer’s words came back to him. He founded his own civilization on the land and called it Byzantion, which means the city of Byzas. The city on the opposite shore is Kalkhedonia, which means the city of the blind. Today it’s known as Kadıköy.

2. Trees That Dresses Istanbul With The Redbud Clothes

On the sides of the two continents facing the sea, in certain months of the year, the redbud dresses the Bosphorus in pink-purple-blue. Redbud, known as Judas Tree, means Jahuda’s shame. The apostle Judas, who betrayed Jesus for 30 dinari, could not bear the weight of his mistake and hanged himself from a tree. According to some beliefs, this tree was a redbud. At that time the redbud tree was a white tree with upright branches but after Judas hanged himself it was painted pink-purple-red, and its branches bent down to the ground. This tree paints Istanbul in its own colours throughout May. The redbud tree evokes sadness and pain as well as shyness. If you come to Istanbul in May, you can see that this shy tree has turned both shores of the Bosphorus into its own colour. For an extra special experience, you can take part in private boat trips which are held in the redbud season.

3. Great Love and Letters

According to myth, the Maiden’s Tower in the middle of the sea, and Galata Tower are in love. But it was impossible for them to communicate with each other as they were separated by the sea. One day Hazerfan Ahmet Çelebi (Turkish savant who was the first person to fly) climbed the tower to fly from the Galata Tower, and as he was about to open his wings, the tower called him: “Hazerfan!“. At first, he didn’t understand who was talking. He looked around and seeing no one, became afraid. The tower said “Don’t be afraid, it’s me. Galata Tower“. Hazerfan froze on the balcony of the tower. The tower spoke again. “I’m in love with that tower, Hazerfan. I’ve written her a lot of letters about my feelings. Would you fly up there and give her my letters?” Hazerfan took the letters and leapt from the balcony, spreading his wings. As he approached the Salacak shores, he threw the letters which were picked up by the wind and then scattered in the air which gave them to the Maiden’s Tower. Receiving the letters, Maiden’s Tower realised her love was not unrequited and became very happy. Like any woman who is happy, she became beautiful and delicate. Galata Tower saw her beauty and he realised that she loved him as he loved her. It’s this great love that has kept these two towers standing for centuries.

4. Find Silver Plating Shops in Grand Bazaar

Legend has it that there is a network of tunnels underneath Istanbul, passing under the Sea of Marmara and continuing until Kinaliada. These tunnels have hidden gates opening above the ground. One of these hidden gates is in the Basilica Cistern and the other in the Grand Bazaar. The secret door in the Grand Bazaar is underneath the shops in which the dinnerware is plated with silver. Employees in these workshops have sworn on the Quran not to tell this secret. That’s why the people who work here are always quiet and secretive.

5. Treasures of Süleymaniye

After laying the foundation of the Süleymaniye Mosque, the architect Sinan stopped the construction for a year to solidify the foundation of this huge building. The Safavid Shah Tavasb received news that the construction had not been completed. Tavasb, who saw Suleyman the Magnificent as his rival, sent him a chest of treasure to break the honour of the Ottoman Emperor. Suleyman the Magnificent accepted the treasure, crushed it and added it to the mortar of the mosque. Therefore, it is said that there is a treasure in the mortar of the Süleymaniye Mosque.

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Levent Ege Balci

Enjoying the city at its full. Traveling all around the world to find adventures. Keeps coming for more and more.
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