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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Istanbul: Galata


Ömer  Erzeren

"This is the Galata tower, right in the centre of the Galata quarter which is the old Genuese part of Istanbul. The existence of  a Genuese community dates back to the bycantine time and it continued to exist in relative autonomy even after 1453, when the Ottoman empire had conquered the city. Consequentely, Galata always had a catholic identity, surrounded by a cultural mixture of muslims, Greek and Armenian othodox christs and jews. Later the quarter was also inhabited by a large number of jewish people which was due to the increased amount of jews in the ottoman empire as a whole because it had received a lot of refugees mainly from Spain. In the 19t century it was culturally a very mixed quarter.

Unfortunately, a lot of this cultural variety of Istanbul was lost in the last century, specifically after 1955 when the Greek orthodox people were forced to leave the country. On top of that, some people left the quarter on their own initiative, in order to live in other quarter where there found better conditions for living, many jews went to Israel. In the course of the second half of the 20th century this quarter had completely changed its population structure: the old inhabitants left and small workshops and shops took their place. Sophisticated commercial structures established, for example: this road down there is completely dedicated to the production and sellig of lamps.

This sophisticated mix of uses includes the brothel 100 metres down there. The population exchange was also supported by strong internal migrations in Turkey which finally brought very poor people in this quarter, simple workers for examples, there were up to 15 people livng in one single room sometimes. Today the Galata quater has become attractive for people with higher incomes due to its central location in Istanbul, they are moving back to the city centre, this process started some 10 years ago. So here you have for exampel two people neighbouring each other and one earns 50 times more money than the other.....

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