Istanbul is the only bi-continental city between Europe and Asia. It has not only become an intercontinental transportation junction, but also the golden knot on the Silk Road because of the exceptional natural geography. Istanbul has always been a unique city, which contains a mix of the philosophy, culture and arts of all the European, Asian and African nations for more than 2600 years.
The first stop of our European Silk Road Journey just started from this Arabian style vault. The local guide showed us his proudest place, the Blue Mosque, which continues to have 5 daily prayers.
As early as in the Yuan Dynasty, the businesmen took the Blue and White Porcelian to Turkey through the Silk Road. The locals painted the tulip patterns onto the porcelain. Since then, this Turkish style porcelain has become a symbol of dignity and has become a part of every Turkish family and individual.
The Blue Mosque was built in 1609 and finished in 1616. It was the biggest mosque in the world in the 17th century.
It has two unique characteristics. First, it was the only one Mosque with six Mannaaru at that time.
Second, it was set with a wall with 25,000 Mosaic, which was mainly blue. The color was symbolic for Turkey during the Ottoman Empire(1290-1922）.
It is embellished by the unique national flower, tulip.
As soon as we walked into the Mosque, we could see the blue tone and easily understand why it is called the Blue Mosque.
The Blue Mosque was commissioned by the emperor and used upscale luxury goods.
It used about 12 tons of gold in total and the best Mosaic for the walls.
As the Mosaic was mostly an imported good at the time, the building of the Blue Mosque with Mosaic setting on the walls shows that the Emperor had a lot of focus on its construction.
The Turkish word for porcelain is pronounced almost the same as the Chinese word.
They blend bright red and yellow flowers with abstract geometric patterns into the Blue and White Porcelain to cater to the Turkish aesthetic. This has led to the immense popularity of Turkish porcelain.
At a porcelain store, which was no more than 2km from the Mosque, we found another secret about the local porcelain of the Silk Road.
Ken, who has been working here for six years, told us that they have had a difficult time with the dramatic reduction in tourism which resulted from the IS attacks. He hopes there will be more tourists who fall in love with Turkish porcelain. During ancient times, the Silk Road not only brought the Chinese porcelain here, but also the pottery making craft. The ingenuine craftsmen started to make Turkish Colored Porcelain with the local mineral materials. This showed the unique Turkish aesthetic and enriched the variety and styles of the porcelain.
Turkish pottery has been a large industry since the middle of the 20th century. 90 percent of Turkish universities has pottery as a major. There are over 30 mass manufacturers here and they even set up a pottery association. These elegantly colored porcelain have always been made locally and the pottery industry remains popular in Turkey.
This is only one microcosm of the Silk Roads links. Businessmen and tourists have been gathering here for thousands of years and they continue to inspire the wealth and wisdom of the western and oriental worlds. The Silk Road has thousands of years of experience and its spirit passed on by new generations. We can count the material wealth taken from the Silk Road, but the hope we take from it is immeasurable.