European Reformers: Jan Hus and Martin Luther

On a short visit to Prague, Czech Republic and Dresden, Germany, I had the privilege to visit the site of two monuments dedicated to protestant reformers, Jan Hus and Martin Luther.

Jan Hus (English John Huss)

After John Wycliffe, who first translated the bible into English and was the forerunner of the reformation, Hus is considered a pre-reformer, as he lived before Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli. His teachings had a strong influence on the states of Western Europe, and, more than a century later, on Martin Luther himself. He was burned at the stake in 1415 for heresy against the doctrines of the Catholic Church, including, but not limited to, his belief that mass should be given in the local vernacular, or local language, rather than in Latin. This monument was dedicated in 1915, 500 years after his martyrdom.

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Martin Luther

Known as the father of the reformation, Martin Luther was a theologian, priest, bible translator, hymnodist, writer, and reformer. Like Hus, Luther stood in opposition to doctrines and teachings of the Catholic Church — including the practice of indulgences, papal authority from divine appointment, forbidding priests to marry and more, all of which he made clear in his 95 thesis which he posted on October 31, 1517 (500 years ago this year). He was excommunicated and put on trial multiple times due to his stances. His life was changed when he encountered the doctrine of justification by faith alone, which relieved years of feelings the weight of his own sin and inability to be holy. He later translated the bible into the common German tongue, declared the scriptures as the only source of divine revelation, and married. He held that his most important work was “The Bondage of the Will”, written in response to Erasmus.

“I frankly confess that, for myself, even if it could be, I should not want “free-will” to be given me, nor anything to be left in my own hands to enable me to endeavour after salvation; not merely because in face of so many dangers, and adversities and assaults of devils, I could not stand my ground ; but because even were there no dangers. I should still be forced to labour with no guarantee of success.¦ But now that God has taken my salvation out of the control of my own will, and put it under the control of His, and promised to save me, not according to my working or running, but according to His own grace and mercy, I have the comfortable certainty that He is faithful and will not lie to me, and that He is also great and powerful, so that no devils or opposition can break Him or pluck me from Him. Furthermore, I have the comfortable certainty that I please God, not by reason of the merit of my works, but by reason of His merciful favour promised to me; so that, if I work too little, or badly, He does not impute it to me, but with fatherly compassion pardons me and makes me better. This is the glorying of all the saints in their God.” – Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will (Grand Rapids: Revell, 1957), 313-314.

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“Take me, for example. I opposed indulgences and all papists, but never by force. I simply taught, preached, wrote God’s Word: otherwise I did nothing. And then, while I slept or drank Wittenberg beer with my Philip of Amsdorf the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that never a prince or emperor did such damage to it. I did nothing: the Word did it all. Had I wanted to start trouble…. I could have started such a little game at Worms that even the emperor wouldn’t have been safe. But what would it have been? A mug’s game. I did nothing: I left it to the Word.” – Martin Luther  (Luther’s Works)

Mt. Nemrut: Ancient Ruins and Beautiful Sunsets

Christine Winzor writes an Extensive article on Nemrut Dagi and the Kingdom of Commagene at Timeless Travels magazine. Enjoy her thoughts, and then browse the pictures of the majesty of Mt. Nemrut.

The colossal stone heads at Nemrut Dağ, with their distinctive array of crowns and caps, are among the most iconic images of Turkey. Many guidebooks and tour agencies stress the importance of visiting this monument – sometimes referred to as the Throne of the Gods – at either sunrise or sunset to appreciate fully the spectacular illumination and reflection of the suns rays on the sculptures and tumulus. Others specifically advise against visiting at these times on the grounds that inevitably you will share this impressive event with a large crowd of other spectators, thereby spoiling the sense of majestic isolation.

 

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Zeus
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Commagene
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King Antiochus I
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Eagle

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Hercules
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Apollo
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Commagene
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Antiochus I
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Eagle

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İshak Pasha Palace: the Ottoman jewel of eastern Turkey

Sitting just 30 km from the Iranian border, this Ottoman stalwart blends together the architectural design of the surrounding cultures (Ottoman, Persian, and Armenian) with fluidity and precision. The imposing structure carries with it memories of a time gone by, when pashas and their families ruled the mountains of Anatolia, and the Ottomans controlled from Iran to the shores of Spain, from the tip of the Arabian peninsula to the walls of Vienna.

Construction started on the palace in 1685 by Colak Abdi Pasha, the bey of Beyazit province, continued by his son İshak Pasha and completed by his grandson Mehmet Pasha, surviving over 300 hundred years through war, the fall of the Ottoman empire, infighting, and now, secured as a UNESCO work heritage site.

The site consists of multiple courtyards, a Mosque, the men’s quarters, baths, a ceremony hall, a bakery and kitchen, dungeons, a massive Harem, a soup kitchen, and an impressive central heating system.

Though the palace was abandoned after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the essence and grandeur of what used to be can be found inside it’s intricate and ornate walls. But what makes the palace truly breathtaking is it’s location; surrounded on all sides by the Iranian border, the charming/rugged town of Doğubayazıt, Turkey, the hills in the shadows of the 5,000m Mt. Ararat, and the tomb of an Uratian King. A visit to the palace is not just about the site itself, but about the region that has been home to Urartu and Armenian Empires, was occupied by Persians, Assyrians, and Ottomans, and is home to the landing spot of Noah’s Ark.

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The main gate of the palace that leads to the first courtyard.

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The entrance into the Harem.
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One of the rooms used as a bakery.
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The first courtyard right inside the main gate.
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One can stand in awe of the architectural detail of this 300 year old structure.
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One of the archways that are found throughout the palace.
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The outer wall the surrounds the palace.

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The Mosque in the center of the palace.

 

 

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A view of the palace from the ancient tomb that sits above the site with the view of modern-day city Doğubayazıt, Turkey

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An Acropolis in Metropolis

Metropolis, found in modern-day Torbalı, Turkey, was a Greco-Roman city that was situated between two of the great cities of antiquity, Ephesus and Smyrna. The city possibly dates back to the Bronze Age since there are Hittite hieroglyphics that date around that time. Though the city was founded in the 8th century B.C.E. it did not flourish until the Hellenistic period. The city at some point or another was under the control of the Pontic King Mithridates VI, but then spent most of the first-century B.C.E. onward under Roman control.
temple to the greek god Ares, the god of war, lies somewhere within the defense walls of the city on the acropolis. The acropolis was surrounded by defense walls and sat above the hellenistic theater and Roman baths that can be seen today.
This is one of three altars dedicated to Ceasar Augustus are found in the Theater on the site of the ancient city of Metropolis.
This is one of three altars dedicated to Ceasar Augustus are found in the Theater on the site of the ancient city of Metropolis.
The theater that holds three altars dedicated to Augustus found in Metropolis
The theater that holds three altars dedicated to Augustus found in Metropolis