Vfyw_1-14

A reader writes:

The times when I've correctly guessed this contest, I've had a solid hunch from the get-go that bears out with 10 or 15 minutes of googling.  However, this time I'm stumped.  The flatness of the city, the mountains in the background, the red tiles, the obvious certain level of poverty, the mosque – it all says Central Asia to me.  And yet I can't find anything that quite lines up with it.  That's why I'm going with my best guess, Yerevan, Armenia.

Another writes:

Much tougher this week. This looks like part of a sprawling city nested near mountains, in a relatively green valley, with mosques. I'm going to go with Tehran, Iran, and call it a day.

Another:

Wow, lots of clues in this one.  Based on the apparent angle of the sunlight and the concentration of particulate matter in the atmosphere, it appears to have been taken in a city of approximately 200,000 residents at a latitude of between 35 and 40 degrees.  That eliminates most of Canada.  The hanging laundry visible foreground appears to be primarily whites, indicating in the populace a degree of piety not typically associated with any of the G7 nations. 

Obviously many will focus on those round structures with the minarets, but I’m ignoring those, as they appear to have been photoshopped in.  For me the giveaway is the guy standing on the roof, who looks just like one of my old college buddies, Steve. He recently traveled to Norway, but that would be too obvious, so based on recent news developments plus a secret feeling I can’t describe I’m going to guess that this photo was snapped from one of the non-existent uranium enrichment facilities located in Sabzevar, Iran.

Thanks for another great contest, I wasted my whole Saturday on this, etc. etc.

Another:

Tuzla, Bosnia? I just googled red roofs and minarets and there's a strong suggestion it's Bosnia. Seems small to be Sarajevo, and maybe too dense to be Banja Luka. If I'm right, I have no idea what window it is.

Another:

The red-tiled roofs suggested Europe, and the two mosques that are visible further suggested the Balkans.  After some initial searching, I came across this mosque in nearby Evpatoria, Ukraine, that is identical to the mosque on the left of the VFYW picture. Interestingly, the mosque's name appears to have several different spellings or versions on various websites, including Djuma-Djami, Juma-Jami or Cuma-Cami mosque.  Also interesting is the number of Ukranian mail-order bride websites that appear during searches related to this mosque (which may require some explaining to my wife).

Another:

Well, it's a Muslim country. And I think the real hint is in the uniform high-rise buildings we see in this valley.  It looks like classic Soviet-style architecture, so this has to be a former Soviet Republic.  Just doing a Google image search of cities in former Soviet Central Asia countries (Almaty, Bishkek, Tashkent, etc.) shows that Ashgabat, Turkmenistan lies in a green valley with low hills to the side, so I'm going to go with that.

Another:

Homs, Syria? Wild guess. The mosque in the center of the picture looks close enough to Khaled Ibn Walid pictured on Google images. Whenever I poke around the VFYW contest, I run into reminders that people every where are the same – planning birthday parties, going to the coast for a quickie vacation, having friends in town stay at their apartment, etc. Syria is no different than US; people just want to live in peace and be left to their DVRs and grocery shopping.

I often think about a Syrian I knew 40 years ago, Khalid, a Syrian Warren Beatty. He managed the diner where I worked while going to college. He was handsome and devastatingly charming. Married to a Londoner who looked like Jean Shrimpton, he was boinking several of the waitresses. When he came into the diner to "manage" he would always put money in the jukebox and play Jim Morrison's "Love Street", a beautiful song about women as shrines of joy and magic. I dearly hope Khalid and his family are safe, wherever they are.

Another:

This one feels like the Harmony Mills contest three weeks ago except that instead of not being able to find the exact 19th century chimney, I can't find the exact 19th century minarets.  Two mosques in the view means it is a Muslim country.  Red clay tiles on pitched roofs and deciduous trees eliminates Middle Eastern and African countries.  That leaves European countries.  Bosnian and Kosovo cities don't feel quite as dense as this city.  I've really enjoyed Google-touring mosques in several Turkish cities but couldn't find a match.  Based on terrain I'm going with somewhere on the outskirts of Ankara.

Another Ankara entry:

Hillside_Maltepe and Haci Bayram

So, I work for a bank and have the crappiest, most outdated software available (maybe that should tell me not to waste time/resources while I'm supposed to be working, but I honestly don't have time to spend on this at home).  In any case, let's say I won't be making you a video … ever.  Although last week's winning entry was pretty awesome, I'm concerned it has set the bar too high and now we need to submit holograms or some tardis-based script as an entry. 

So with my limited resources and wild stabbing at theMaltepe Cami map, this looked like Turkey to me.  Ankara, specifically.  Mainly because that mosque on the left looks like Maltepe Cami (photo attached) and I think the submitter's pic could have been taken from the hillside (photo/google search) looking over both Maltepe and minaret from Haci Bayram on the right.  Of course, Maltepe doesn't have a double dome, so I'm probably in the wrong city. Nice try, though.  Maybe I'm close, who knows. I hate this contest.

Another:

Ten minute search today, which is only enough time to guess that we are in Turkey.  I wanted it to be Cappadocia, where I spent a memorable February weekend with the flu in a freezing hotel room built into the caves.  However, it is clearly not there.  I’m guessing Ankara because it still feels like interior Turkey and we are in a larger city, even though the plain in the background is probably too flat.  But that’s my guess and I’m sticking to it …

Another:

Interesting. From a distance, I thought South America, but then noticed the prominent mosques in the foreground.  Given that, and the mountain range, I lean towards a Moroccan or Turkish Window.  I have a feeling it's a bit more Turkish, not Istanbul though, nor a picture from Ankara which is on the plateau.  Hard to imagine a mountain range on top of a plateau.  So, I'll go with the 3rd largest Turkish City, Izmir. 

Hey Andrew, why not pitch this to a TV executive as a game show idea?  Points could be based on miles away from the actual site, and sum up distances away from a series of pictures, and person with lowest score wins.  Could be part of your growing legacy and get American people interested in the world.  Alternatively, an app game.

Several more Turkish cities were submitted, but only two readers nailed the correct one:

The view appears to be from the top floor of an abandoned structure sometimes described as the Darphane in Manisa, Turkey (38° 36' 28.55" N  27° 25' 45.07" E).  The attached PDF file has the details behind my guess. Specifically, the view is from the top west window on the north side of the Darphane in Manisa, Turkey.

Screen shot 2012-01-17 at 12.57.00 PM

The PDF contains a spectacular slideshow (one of the slides seen above), but the other Manisa reader has also entered and correctly answered more contests in the past, so he wins this week:

Ok, this had to be Turkey, no doubt about that, and after a bit of checking out a number of midsize provincial cities things fell into place: Landscape, buildings, and the redbud trees suggest it must be a relatively prosperous town in the western part of the country. The mosque in the center gives the orientation, roughly looking north to northwest. The mosque itself is a sultanic mosque, because it has two minarets, and the architecture suggests an early classical Ottoman mosque. Behind it we see two other large domes with lanterns, obviously a Turkish bath, most likely built as part of the mosque complex, in order to generate income for the upkeep of the mosque.

Where are those? Bursa, the old capitalManisa1, looked promising, but the single-dome mosques of Bursa are too small, and too archaic, and the way the city extends towards the north did not fit. Edirne, the second capital after Bursa? No, the whole layout of the city is different. Manisa (in Greek: Magnesia), where the Ottoman princes in the 16th century held a provincial governorship in preparation for their office? Bingo.

So the mosque turns out to be Sultan Camii, that is, that of Sultan Süleyman, who ruled 1520-1566, built in 1522, in honor of his mother. A double bath (i.e. with separate sections for men and women) and a hospital were added later, I'd estimate still in the 16th century.

Another mosque is visible to the right, with one of its minarets just sticking out behind the right rear corner of the apartment building in the middle. This is the Muradiye Mosque, built in 1585 by Murad III, the last prince who was called from Manisa to ascend to the throne of the Ottoman Empire. When the Ottoman princes were no longer sent to the provinces for training, Manisa lost its special status.

The perspective to the Western minaret of the Muradiye gives away the point from where the image must be taken: the little domed structure on 2003rd St. indicated in the screenshots from GoogleMap [above], which might house a fountain or a tomb – I can't tell.

Despite much traveling in Turkey I have never been to Manisa. This is a nice reminder that it would be worthwhile.

Congrats!  We will get a VFYW book out to you shortly. From the reader who submitted the contest photo:

Manisa VFYW2

It was taken from the second floor of a ruined shop on 2003rd Street in Manisa, Turkey, just past the Seljuk-era Ulu Camii mosque. The name of the neighborhood is Ishakchelebi, after the ruler of the Saruhan emirate who built the Ulucamii (Great Mosque) in 1366. It is still open to prayer. The domed roof of the building is intact but we had to climb up through a hole in the second floor. The view is toward the plains of the Hermus River and away from Mount Sipylum. Manisa is the site of the Battle of Magnesia in 190 BC, at which Rome conquered the Seleucid Empire based in Antioch (modern Antakya, Turkey).

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