La Vie en Turquoise

January 31, 2014

Back with you , my friends, after a demanding month of January. I had very little time to write and download more pictures from my stay in Istanbul. When I did so, I realized there was a lot of turquoise color in them. You surely have heard this lovely song “La Vie en Rose” (seeing life through rose-colored glasses),  so why not seeing “La Vie en Turquoise”  in some streets of Istanbul, Turkey ?

Turquoise, the blue cousin to lapis lazuli, has been known and valued for thousands of years. The early mines in Sinai, Egypt, were already worked out in 2000 B.C. Today the best quality Turquoise is found in Iran. Turquoise was first sent to Europe through Turkey, hence its name, which means “Turkish” in French (turc  or turque).

Turquoise has long been appreciated as a holy stone, a good-luck-charm or a talisman. It is believed to promote good fortune, happiness, and long life.

DSCN1021Had this dark roller-blind been up, I am sure the shop behind it would have looked like an Ali Baba’s Cave full of semi-precious stones and all kinds of jewels.

DSCN1076A quiet back street, away from the touristic main sites. This luminous quilt, a flash of turquoise, was hanging in front of an old shop.

mosaics You often get surprised whether you look up or down. Here, an artistic minded mason had decided to embellish the pavement in inserting typical Turkish  tiles… or what was left of them. Isn’t it charming ?

turquoiseI stood a long time there. In front of the shop various jewels decorated the wall. Turquoise necklaces of all sizes, shapes and lengths. On the right hand side,  several “nazar” were displayed (Turkish: bazar boncuğu) . A nazar is an eye-shaped amulet believed to protect against the evil eye,  they are seen and sold all over the city.

reflectionsColourful reflections. Shawls, fabrics, bags, cushions, carpets highlighted the wooden walls of an old Ottoman house. The sign in Spanish says “Good quality, pretty and cheap” !

Musée de l'IslamTurquoise and golden shades  are engraved in the Ma’mun globe (a Caliph who reigned from 198-218 H./813-833 CE.) in front of the entrance of the Istanbul Museum for History of Science in Islam. A great achievement. The map on this globe displays, with surprising accuracy, the geography of the part of the world which was known at that time.

Maybe your weekend is in the grey shades ? or all white with so much snow ? or golden with a hot sun ? blue, if you live near the sea ? No matter the color you are living in, here is Edith Piaf singing for you “La Vie en Rose”.  I hope you will enjoy it.

Happy weekend to you 🙂

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My hometown history

May 24, 2011

Scott Thomas Photography’s challenge for this month is about “Your hometown history”.

http://stphoto.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/assignment-13-hometown-history/

My  hometown is in another state but surely a “hometown” is also the place one feels good in : my close family lives here as well as some very dear friends. I  have  enjoyed practising many activities over the years since my family and I decided to settle down in this town.  I love the area we live in now almost as much as the one I was born in.  My hometown then would be Fribourg in the French speaking part of Switzerland. Halfway between Berne, our capital and the picturesque area near the Lake of Geneva, not far from my “real” hometown in the Alps.

As for history… this subject has been very much part of my life thanks to my paternal grandfather, Ulysse, who was a self-taught historian.  A long while ago, I wrote a post about him :

https://isathreadsoflife.wordpress.com/2009/01/14/ulysses-books/

This is the old part of Fribourg  on a rather grey day. The medieval town was  was built in 1157 along a river. The Sarine  river  borders two areas in my country: the French and the German  parts.  Fribourg (town/canton) is one of the 26 cantons/states of the Swiss Confederation. Almost one third of his 30000 inhabitants are students.  Several academies, high schools and a bilingual university attract many young people from here and abroad.

Various bridges cross the river meandering around the old town.

Apart from a winding road,  there is a funicular (1899) that connects the ancient town to the newer part above the hill. No motor but recycled water that acts as counterweight.

This medieval town used to be surrounded by ramparts. Most of those walls were destructed over the centuries. A few of them remain and have been restored as well as one heavy wooden gate that would close the town at night.

A colourful old house that used to be a military arsenal.  Nowadays people seem to be more peaceful in town and the arsenal became “Arsen’Alt”. The large painted house is meant to bring people together in the Alt district. It promotes local community life for all those wishing so: kindergarten, various courses, craftwork, cultural activities, meetings, movies,  birthday parties, etc… An inter-generation leisure complex.

By chance I happened to be in the old town when a photography exhibition took place on a square. It was all about the people who lived and are living now in this part of our town. Maybe one of these two ladies recognized herself or someone she knew on a picture ? 🙂

Pictures from today and yesterday; remembering history in a district that used to be a deprived area inhabited by large families coming from the country  in search of a job in town.  Years later many of those same families left their old houses that had become run-down for apartment houses in the upper part of  the town. Ancient houses have been restored and are now sought-after… Times are changing.

Just an old pub about one of my idols 😉  “Elvis et moi”. The owner must have the complete collection of The King’s LP’s ! A real fan and a charming lady. Pity the pub was closed as I took this picture.

A window from another time… Pretty old dolls, second hand books, ancient CD’s and other fancy dusty objects.

Many museums are worth visiting in Fribourg. A favourite of mine is the Gutenberg Museum. A whole post would be necessary to show you its wonders. I will write more about it some time. For now let’s meet the writer and the bookbinder…

… as well as two Turkish musicians who were practising folk music in a garden outside the museum: “Our landlady does not allow us to play in the apartment !”.  They were preparing for  a traditional celebration with members of their community,  an important one in our city.

Are you tired after the visit  ? Then why not take a break on the lawn or on this stone (molasse) bridge. From there you will be able to have another look at the old city, like in the first picture. Fribourg or Freiburg in German is a town of bridges over the river. Bridges over cultures,  languages and times.  Bridges that join rather than divide. It is a small town you may well enjoy visiting if you are around someday.

Thanks Scott for allowing me to use pictures of various “times”. I loved this theme too.

There is a new photography challenge at Scott Thomas’  “Views Infinitum” :

http://stphoto.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/assignment-13-hometown-history/

Here is what Scott writes about it :

“This month’s assignment will be about Hometown History. Specifically, Your Hometown as in year’s past. Whether your hometown has centuries of history or less than a hundred years, you can find places, people, things and stories about its past.

Please, have your photos posted on or before Midnight (your time), Wednesday, May 25, 2011.”

Let’s all participate in this assignment and travel back to our hometown history.  Stagecoach is not mandatory 😉

Let’s find stories of our past and meet people who can share some of their memories and experiences.

Good luck to all and enjoy re-visiting your hometown !