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Tuesday, 10 July 2012

The scandal of Topkapi's wannabe 'sultan'

Istanbul's Topkapi Palace is one of the city's most incredible tourist attractions. Full of sumptuous reminders of Turkey's rich Ottoman history, it is a residence fit for a sultan. 

There hasn't actually been a sultan in Turkey since the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1922. So perhaps Topkapi Palace Museum director Yusuf Benli thought it was time for a new one.

Topkapı Palace Museum Director Yusuf Benli tried to remove the throne of Sultan Selim III into his own residence
From harem to home: Yusuf Benli decided this throne would look nice in his living room. 

During his tenure as director Benli evidently decided his comfy sofa wasn't grand enough for his residence. He instructed employees to remove the throne of 18th Century Sultan Selim III from the Harem section of the museum and install it in his apartment. Unfortunately the new piece of furniture was too large to fit through the doorway and sat outside in the rain while staff members tried to come up with a solution. 

Topakpi head İlber Ortaylı said a few weeks ago that he was looking into the issue. “Mr. Director [Benli] must have mixed up the housing complex with the Harem — where the throne was originally on exhibit.” To be fair, that's a mistake anyone could make. 

Breakfast at Benli's place was also apparently a grand affair. He has been accused of serving his visitors breakfast on museum pieces - including a Louis XIV-style marble table. 

To add to the mix, further allegations of corruption, unlicensed excavations and discrimination have also been levelled at the former director. 

The palace has seen scandal after scandal in the past year. And with this week's annoucement of Ortayli's retirement, there is more fuel to add to the fire, with Ortayli claiming the palace has been dogged by mismanagement and political bickering.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Patara Beach

Beautiful Patara Beach is a short drive from Fethiye and at 18 kilometres in length is Turkey's longest beach. It's completely unspoilt, thanks to planning laws which prevent building along its dunes. It's also extremely private - something that Turkey's few naturists relish.

Tsunami danger higher in the UK than Turkey

There was panic recently in Fethiye when rumours of a tsunami caused locals to rush for higher ground – but history shows you’re more likely to be killed by a rogue wave in the United Kingdom than on the Mediterranean region.

After days of seismic activity and a magnitude 6.0 earthquake on June 10, worried Fethiye residents took to their cars and hit the motorways after news spread via mobile phones and social networks that a huge wave was imminent. Houses were abandoned and roads clogged with cars as people fled the coast.

However, authorities denied the rumours, telling locals there was no reason at all to panic. History tells us that Turkey has had just one tsunami, a two-metre wave that hit the shores of the Sea of Marmara in 1999, killing 10 people in the aftermath of the Izmit earthquake.

 In fact, if you look back at history, you’ll see that the UK has suffered more tsunami damage than Turkey.
In 1607 an earthquake off the coast of Southern Ireland caused a tsunami which killed around 2000 people from Somerset to Cardiff. This natural disaster is the deadliest on record.

Other deadly European tsunamis in the last few hundred years include the one that hit Lisbon in after an earthquake in 1755, killing 60,000 and a 1908 wave in Messina, Italy, which killed more than 70,000.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Tom Cruise fights birthday and break-up blues in Bodum

Sources close to Tom Cruise claim that he has fled to Bodrum to lick his wounds after his wife Katie Holmes filed for divorce on Friday.

The world’s most famous Scientologist, who turns 50 today, is thought to be staying at the luxurious Kempinski Hotel in Yaliciftlik, where the £4500 presidential suite is the ultimate in opulence on the peninsula. Cruise is evidently taking a few days off from filming sci-fi Oblivion in Iceland.

Katie and Tom: first smooching, now stalking
 Rumours are running rife after Friday’s shock news, with reports of Scientology “boot camps” for the couple’s daughter Suri; sinister auditions for the position of Cruise’s wife which included Kate Winslet and Scarlett Johanssen, and clinical marriage contracts organised by the Church of Scientology.

Katie Holmes is said to be keeping a low profile after confessing to friends that she fears she is being ‘stalked’ by senior members of the Church of Scientology.

Cruise is the latest and most high profile of a string of stars to visit the peninsula, following appearances by Rihanna, Salma Hayek and Eva Herzigova. The superstar is known for his love of the beach - perhaps he has his eye on a prime slice of Bodrum beachfront property.

Cruise's behaviour has become more and more erratic in recent years, which worried insiders are attributing to the cult-like grip of the Scientology elders who advise him on everything from his acting to his children.