-text and Durres photos Andrei Dorian Gheorghe
Istanbul and ISS +Mars photos Valentin Grigore
design Florin Alexandru Stancu-

The three pictures above were taken by Valentin Grigore
in Istanbul (the former Capital of the Ottoman Empire)
during an international expedition
organized by the Romanian Society for Meteors and Astronomy (SARM)
for the observation of a total solar eclipse in the south of Turkey
in March 2006.

More precisely,
they were taken in what was the zone of Constantinople
(the second Capital of the Roman Empire
and then the Capital of the Byzantine Empire).

The pictures represent:

-A water fountain (with a small rainbow)
placed between Hagia Sofia (made in the 6th century)
and the Blue Mosque (made in the 17th century),
the most emblematic edifices of the city.

-A sequence from the Grand Bazaar
(made in 1455-1461 by Mehmed II
to transform the conquered city
into the main commercial centre of the Muslim world).

-A larger view, including
the Golden Horn Gulf, the Galata Tower and the Galata Bridge
(-the Golden Horn naturally marks
the end of the Bosphorus Strait and the beginning of the Marmara Sea;
-the Galata Tower, made in the 1340s by the Genovese colony,
is a kind of inertia of the Latin Empire of Constantinople (1204-1261),
which existed for a short time after the 4th Crusade,
when the Western Catholic army abandoned the plan
to liberate Jerusalem from the Arabian Muslims
and preferred to attack the Orthodox Byzantines,
unleashing a Christian war;
-the Galata Bridge,
made in the current form in 1994 after four older variants,
is an economical inertia of the Ottoman military masterpiece
during the Siegle of Constantinople in 1453,
when the Muslim army used here a floating bridge made of ships).

For me one of the most interesting things in Istanbul was that,
in the ancient times,
when the settlement was named Byzantium,
it meant the end of Via Egnatia,
a road made by Romans in the 2nd century BC,
which connected the Adriatic Sea to the Bosphorus Strait
(a band of stone, wide of 6 metres and long of over 1000 kilometres).

Eight years after our expedition in Turkey
I passed through Durres,
a city not so large and famous like Istanbul,
but which represented… the beginning of Via Egnatia
in the Roman times!

This city was founded in the 7th century BC
by Greek colonists (who named it Epidamnos).
Then the local (Illiric, later Albanian) population,
before becoming independent,
had to resist to the conquests of the
Romans (who named it Dyrachium),
Byzantines, Bulgarians, Normans, Venetians (who named it Durazzo),
Epirotes, Sycilians, Serbians and Ottomans.

Durres was also the Capital
of the medieval Kingdom of Albania (1272-1368)
and of modern Albania (1914-1920),
and its main historical monuments represent
a beautiful collection of ages:
a Roman amphitheatre (made in the 2nd century),
a Byzantine castle (made in the 5th century),
a Venetian Tower (made in the 15th century),
the Grand Mosque (made in 1931
just because many Albanians had become Muslim
during the Ottoman occupation)…

I think that Via Egnatia was
the first major achievement of humanity
in its tentative to create regular routes
on Earth and (later) around the Earth.

It was followed by the Silk Road in Asia
and by the transatlantic courses
opened by Christopher Columbus in 1493.

the first circumnavigation,
realized by Ferdinand Magellan and Juan Elcano
in 1519-1522,
the first aerial circumnavigation,
realized in 175 days by an American military team
in 1924,

Today the International Space Station
orbits the Earth in only 93 minutes!

And, morally, all began here,
on the shore of the Adriatic Sea!

First, Via Egnatia united
Two seas and the Roman multination.
Later, the Earth and the Sky were united
By the International Space Station.


© 2015 SARM
(Romanian Society for Meteors and Astronomy)