It would be silly to begin with a cliché and say I don't know why Istanbul is one of my favorite cities. I do.
Istanbul is about the intersection of food,
water and heavy historical memory, nowhere more poignant and
vivid than in the writings of Orhan Pamuk. In his novels and memoir he describes the imprint of the
"golden stain of time" on the city, evident in decrepit yalis (large waterside mansions) crumbling on and
into the banks of the Bosphorus.
Information on Orhan Pamuk in Section ONE of References
See Yalis and other Bosphorus Water Scenes
Of course, Istanbul is famously about its visual culture, which is inadequately described as 'Islamic.'
The art and architecture of this culture are heavily
inflected by Central Asian, Byzantine and Roman antecedants.
Some of this belies simplistic views about 'Islamic' culture,
though these may be reinforced for visitors to
Topkapi Palace who are told that floral and geometric patterns in its tiled mosaics illustrate an Islamic ban
on figural imagery. (Elsewhere in the Palace are robust examples of supposedly proscribed art, e.g. , from
Ottoman traditions of portraiture for sultans that built on precedents from Central Asia and also contemporary
European painting. In the Palace's miniature and portrait gallery are illustrations in Ottoman Islamic manuscripts
that depict Muhammad, with faces covered by
white veils--some seemingly imposed after the original composition.)
See Section TWO Of References
On this page are images that display tranquil and turbulent scenes of Istanbul. First, some tranquil scenes, then
turbulent ones that reflect deep social and political divisions in a complex and rapidly changing society. The latter
come from protests that erupted in May 2013 in opposition, initially, to plans to redevelop Gezi Park. The heavy
response by police quickly transformed a protest over a park in one city into widespread opposition to the policies
and strong rhetoric of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling AKP government. The images of protest
display the occupation of the park and adjacent Taksim Square, and demonstrations along the main pedestrian
boulevard, Istiklal Caddesi, that leads to the Square. Subsequently,
police forcefully ended the occupation. The images
highlight only one aspect in one city of a diverse anti-government movement that spread across the country,
with a pluralistic sensibility that included militantly secular and Muslim participants, Kurdish political parties and
Kemalist nationalists, teachers and Çarşı (rowdy supporters of a local soccer team). Gezi Park protests generated
many striking images of violent conflict, which appear in some images on this page. But more representative images
come from nightly scenes, after I left Istanbul, when protesters sat on the Istiklal Caddesi before plates
which stretched from the Galatasaray High School to Taksim Square, and had their iftars , the Ramadan dinners that
break the day-long fast. It remains to be seen whether the diverse, sprawling coalition from the Gezi protest persists
and ushers in a new era of post-Gezi politics.