Into the Pontic Mountains, Mosques with Snow

Since Izmir, we have traveled by bus routes bordered by snow swept mountains.  The weather has been cool with lows around freezing and highs varying from 5° C (41° F) to 15° C (59° F).  After leaving Sivas for Erzurum, the temperature started dropping and the plains between the mountain ridges retained snow.  The day was clear and sunny so the views were spectacular.  Being unable to capture the magnificence of the mountain scenes from inside the bus was frustrating.  The photos did turn out halfway decent but nothing compared to traveling through it for seven hours.

Sivas-Erzurum
Sivas-Erzurum
Sivas-Erzurum
Sivas-Erzurum

The bus station for Erzurum lies several kilometers out of town.  The kind bus conductor helped us get a minibus shuttle into the city and a taxi to our somewhat obscure hotel.  The streets were a bit slippery with the remnants of previous snow storms.

The next morning we awoke to find about 10 cm (4 in) of freshly fallen white stuff.  Although we have seen Mosques in snow in Sarajevo and Istanbul, these photos show the peacefulness the best.

Waking up in Erzurum
Waking up in Erzurum
Kaleşeyh Cami (Mosque)
Kaleşeyh Cami (Mosque)
Lala Mustafa Pasha Cami (Mosque)
Lala Mustafa Pasha Cami (Mosque)
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Yakutiye Medresesi

The Largest Mosque of Istanbul

Süleymaniye Mosque

I have a hard time taking photographs that capture the atmosphere of a Mosque or Cathedral.  There is a mystical atmosphere in the filtered light, the acoustics below a dome, and the believers mixed with the curious.  I am happy with these two pictures created from my iPad.  The first is a panorama shot from the base to the dome.  The second is a collage of kaleidoscope images.

Suleymaniye Mosque
Suleymaniye Mosque
Suleymaniye Mosque
Suleymaniye Mosque – Kaleidoscopic interior

Looking back I wish I would have tried other techniques when photographing the Church of St. Sava in Belgrade, Et’hem Bey Mosque in Tirana, and Holy Savior Church in Skopje.

Church of St. Sava, Belgrade
Church of St. Sava, Belgrade
Et'hem Bey Mosque, Tirana
Et’hem Bey Mosque, Tirana
Holy Savior Church, Skopje
Holy Savior Church, Skopje

Albania Edifices

Albania was one of the staunchest communist countries and one of the last to implement a market based economy. One can feel the dynamics in the street. Enver Hoxha, the first and only leader of communist Albania, left his marks in the architecture and in the society. Like many of his communist cohorts, he and his children idolized cement.

Tirana_Biking.JPG
Bicycling on a side street under massive external wiring.

Some solid examples from the communist era.

Tirana-Pyramid.JPG
Abandoned pyramid of Enver Hoxha and the freedom bell.
Tirana-cement.JPG
Cement seats at the outdoor auditorium.

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Tirana Mosque – rebirth of religious freedom

“The mosque reopened as a house of worship in 1991, without permission from the authorities. 10,000 courageous people dared to attend and remarkably the police did not interfere. The event was a milestone in the rebirth of religious freedom in Albania.”