Istanbul to Iran

Train in eastern Turkey A train wends its way through the mountains of eastern Turkey Suleymaniye and Hagia Sophia Istanbul's skyline was dominated for hundreds of years by these two great buildings
- the Suleymaniye Mosque (left) and the Hagia Sophia
Travelling from Istanbul to Iran overland is thrilling, whether the journey is made by road or rail. Trains allow passengers freedom to choose their vantage point, while buses offer routes through the hearts of communities. The Suleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul. Named after the sultan who commissioned it, the Suleymaniye Mosque dates from 1557 The Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. Hagia Sophia is one of Christianity's oldest buildings dating from 537, it became a mosque in 1453 (hence the minarets) and is now a museum Wooden fronted buildings in old Istanbul. The old town of Istanbul had many streets with these wooden fronted buildings The Suleymaniye Mosque and fountain. The style of the Suleymaniye mosque, a central dome supported by half domes, is similar to the Byzantine church Hagia Sophia Like almost all great cities Istanbul has altered dramatically in the last 40 years since these pictures were taken. Now the skyline is dominated by skyscrapers and the old buildings, many of which were past rescue, have been replaced. Istanbul is beautifully situated at the confluence of the Golden Horn (a large estuary of two creeks) and the Bosphorus, and so has water on three sides. Looking across the Bosphorus to the Asian part of the town (Uskudar and Kadikoy) the building which dominates the view is the Haydarpasa Campus of Marmara University. The Asian side of Istanbul. Looking across the Bosphorus to Asia Istanbul skyline before skyscrappers. A faded picture of historical interest for the view has changed: the Istanbul skyline seen from one of the old ferries, before the skyscrapers arrived! Train through eastern Turkey The train from the Asian side of Istanbul takes three days... Railway running beside river. meander its way to Tehran From Istanbul to Tehran is nearly 2,000 miles, and is as rewarding to the traveller as it must have been challenging to the makers of the railways and roads for the mountainous country of eastern Turkey is spectacular. By train the line goes via Lake Van, while the road goes by Erzurum. From inside a horse drawn taxi Taxi's were still horse drawn (in the 70s) with brass fittings Erzurum street with mountains Mountains surround Erzurum The alternative to the train is the regular scheduled three day bus journey. This has the reward of views of Mount Ararat at the border with Iran and Armenia. And takes the traveller to the town of Erzurum which sits in the heart of eastern Turkey's mountains. Horse taxi in Erzurum A taxi waiting for trade in the central area of Erzurum Wheel off bus Delay is inevitable for bus journeys through mountains - the wheel of our bus is off Wide open spaces in eastern Turkey. Eastern Anatolia is all about space   big   big   space Horseman and pony on road in Anatolia. Passing traffic with a friendly wave Bus driver's view in eastern Turkey. The drivers view is of flags and flowers as much as the road, but then this man's eyes often seemed closed anyway, as he and his co-driver struggled with the long journey The scale of mountains in eastern Turkey. To naive westerners (like me) the sheer scale of Eastern Turkey impresses Village on hillside in eastern Turkey Villages like the one invisible on the opposite hillside blend totally into their surroundings Bus and Mount Ararat. Ararat - ever present on this road The great attraction of the bus ride is the views it gives of Mount Ararat, whereas the highlight of the rail journey lies in Lake Van where the tracks are joined onto a boat and the train drives on board Mount Ararat from Iranian brder The road from Iran, that leads to western Turkey, crosses the border through this gate which frames Mount Ararat - the sign says Erzurum 321 kms Tatvan station in Eastern Turkey. The train from the west arrives at Tatvan station, on the western shores of Lake Van. After various 'normal' delays, it goes from the station to the pier Rail lines leading to boat The railway lines at Tatvan lead into the boat Steam engine running onboard. Turkey still ran many massive steam engines in the 1970s; no one seemed aware of the smoke! Sunset on Lake van from the Train-Boat. The train journey to Tehran reaches Lake Van so that it is crossed at dusk. Lake Van is 5,000 feet up and some 70 miles across, so Van town on the east shore is reached after dark, and the journey on through the mountains of western Iran is also in the dark. But the lake has already provided a fitting end to the journey. The next page continues the journey into Iran, visiting the Sassanid carvings at Kermanshah and going on to Tehran. Sassanid carvings. line
Saturday 4th June 2016 Murphy

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