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Istanbul: Cihangir


Seyhan Özdemir:

"We are in Cihangir, a small residential area of Istanbul, many intellectual people live around here. The buildings are old and they all have a wonderful view. People know each other quite well. But the most important are these wonderful stairs with a view over Istanbul. I came into contact with this space during my art studies, the university is very close, right on the Bosporus seaside. Often when we came here to eat our lunch we started to talk about our future plans, that is a special feeling which comes back to my mind every time I am here. And beside this I can see all Istanbul from here, the Asian side, the old Topkapi palace and the Istanbul island leading to the Marmara sea. This is a very specific Istanbul place because you have both: the view over the town and the people gathering here informally on the stairs to talk to each other. I feel good here. This place is really pulic, it does not belong to anybody. An open space for everybody...

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...Unfortunately, Istanbul has very few open spaces, public space is rare. Actually these buildings down there on the sea are supposed to be demolished in order to give space for an open space along the sea. This was a former harbour which has moved to another part of the town. But this has been planned for 10 years know and nothing has happened. If it was realised people would have an direct access to the seaside. We need more open spaces, this city is so dense and people need to take a breath of fresh air somewhere, in addition to the small places like this one. Like Hyde Park in London. A place to clear your mind....

....I can not talk about the cities you have been to but I would like to add something about Rome: this town has many small squares, the are interrelated and people use these spaces to meet and communicate, but this is different in Istanbul. People meet in coffee houses, which are semi-private places, there they even talk to strangers very quickly, but in a real public space they would not communicate that much as they don't have the habit to do so, they keep much more at a distance...

...every time I see the lines of the Bosporus, in blue or in green depending on the weather, I feel free, it gives me strengh."

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