Constantinople / Istanbul - Ancient and Modern - Crossroads of the World

Constantinople / Istanbul - Ancient and Modern - Crossroads of the World
Istanbul/constantinople - Ancient/Modern - View of the Old City from across the Golden Horn, atop the Galata Tower.
… follow the footsteps of our recent Popes: Benedict XVI. John Paul II, Paul VI, and John XXIII (fondly remembered as “the Turkish Pope”)
… cross the paths of St. Paul, St. Peter, St. John the Evangelist, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and many other Apostles and Saints
… discover the heritage of faith left to us by the great Fathers and Mothers of the first seven centuries of Christianity
… explore the fascinating and little known history of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires
… come to understand the faith and culture of Islam: what we as Christians share with Muslims and how we differ.

Is It Safe to Travel to Turkey?

The October 31 suicide bombing in Takskim square, which is a few blocks from our hotel in Istanbul, of course raises questions about the safety of our annual Pilgrimage to Turkey.  Only the bomber himself was killed, and 32 persons were injured, about half of them police officers.  The attack seemed to target the police, and they were the most seriously injured.

It is certainly not surprising that there would be this kind of thing in Turkey.  What is surprising is how little of it there is.  If you look at the statistic of "terror-related" incidents in Turkey compared with other places we commonly travel to, including Europe and Mexico, I think it's safe to conclude that that the risks of travel to Turkey are no higher than anywhere else.

Tom Brosnahan, who probably knows (and loves) Turkey better than anyone else in the American travel community, has a website, Turkey Travel Planner, with pages dedicated to the overall safety of travel to Turkey, as well as the fear of terrorism.  I highly recommend reading these.

In addressing the question of safety, I believe Brosnahan is "right-on" in his analysis of the risks of travel:

Turkey is not only friendly, it's as safe as Europe and North America, although no place is completely safe. ... You must answer this question to fit your personal tolerance for risk. If you believe the statistics and look at it rationally, you'll probably go. If you're going to worry about safety a lot while you're there, the worry may make your trip less pleasant, and so you probably shouldn't go.

It's hard for me to address this topic of safety and risk without asking you to consider the crime- and gang-related violence in our own neighborhoods, and how our daily news reports look to the people of a country like Turkey with a far lower crime rate than ours.  Let's face it, we're not as safe at home as we'd like to think we are!  Here's an interesting (and sobering) comparison.