Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I have just purchased a wonderful little book published recently entitled Places in Turkey: A Pocket Grand Tour by Francis Russell and published by Frances Lincoln Limited in London. Francis Russell has worked at the auction house Christie's since 1972 and so naturally he has a discriminating eye and his little tour of Turkey (the book is only 5" x 6 1/2") is very distinctive and worthwhile. The photograph on the cover is of the exquisite Iznik tiles lining the interior of the Rustem Pasha mosque in Istanbul, my very favorite, and he opens his Introduction by stating, "Turkey is a daunting, yet infinitely rewarding, proposition for the tourist."

Of Istanbul, Russell writes, "Istanbul instantly asserts its magic. But it is not a city that can be taken by storm. It yields its secrets slowly; and those who have the patience to unravel the impacted strata of these will find the process deeply rewarding." He continues with words of advice that I, too, offer in my book: "A sensible itinerary demands time -- at least a week -- and calls for a good deal of walking." He recommends starting a visit to the city by going straight to Aya Sofya, an opinion with which I generally agree, though I think a visit to the Land Walls is perhaps an even better place to begin.

Russell's book -- complete with a glossary of architectural terms -- is a gem, and I encourge anyone interested in Turkey to read it.

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