Tranquil and Turbulent

David Zaret
Vice President for International Affairs
Professor of Sociology and History
Bryan Hall 104, Bloomington, IN



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. ,
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 of food,
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.

I photographed the images of turbulent Istanbul on June 8, 2013.
With the exception of two images, I am the source of the tranquil scenes, although I photographed these on previous visits to the city.

Tranquil Scenes

Chora Museum
Church of the Holy Saviour; the Chora Museum

Mosaic of St. Peter
St. Peter in the Chora Museum

Famous monuments from the history of the city occupy a prominent place among its tranquil scenes, such as Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace. But instead of displaying these well-known sites I'll commend (above) the quiet spaces of the Church of the Holy Saviour In Chora, a/k/a the Chora Museum, and its exquisite Byzantine mosaics and frescoes. It was constructed just over 1,000 years ago, rebuilt after an early-12th-century earthquake, and acquired most of its mosaics in the 14th century.

A ferry trip up the Bosphorus to its confluence with the Black Sea ends at Anadolu Kavagi, a most tranquil spot. Atop a hill outside the village is Yoros Castle, a fortress that guards entry into the Bosphorus at one of its narrowest points.

Click on these images to see larger pictures.

Yoros Castle 2
Interior of Yoros Castle.
Yoros Castle 3
Close-up view of fortified window.

The hill top fortress displays a Byzantine pattern of stone layers, and the strategic location provides a panoramic view of the Bosphorus and its junction with the Black Sea. And in this quiet, lovely space there were relatively few other visitors, at least when I was there.

Click on these images to see larger pictures.

Yoros Castle Yoros Castle. Bosphorus meets the Black Sea
Ships entering Bosphorus from the Black Sea.

Food scenes also occupy a prominent place among Istanbul's tranquil scenes. I've been lucky to have bought food from or eaten in these places, many of which are in or near the Spice Market or along the Istiklal Caddesi.

The top two pictures show the inside of Istanbul's Spice Market.

Istanbul Spice Market Istanbul Spice Market

Nearly adjacent to the Spice Market are colorful boats (below) that sell inexpensive fish sandwiches. In the background of the middle picture, below, is the Galata Bridge, which features restaurants on its lower level that overlook the Golden Horn.

Kabap Man Food Store on Istiklal Cadessi

Boat Selling Fish

Men Cooking Fish

Fish Cooking

This last set of tranquil scenes begins with a view of the Galata Tower in Karaköy, a neighborhood in the Beyoglu district of Istanbul. That area is one of my favorite places in the city. I am so attracted to this place over which the Tower keeps watch. Through this area runs the famous pedestrian boulevard, Istiklal Caddesi, on which operates its iconic red trolley car.

Spice Market, looking toward Galata Tower Galata Tower1

Along the boulevard as it leads to Taksim Square are shops, restaurants, museums (e.g., the Pera) and a high school, (Galatasaray) that was founded in 1481.

From the Eminönü area and the Spice Market one gets to Karaköy by walking across a bridge with tranquil fishing and eating scenes. Fishermen are on the upper level of the bridge.While dining in the many restaurants on the lower level, customers watch fishing lines descend down and travel in the reverse direction with their wiggling catch--a nice point on which to conclude before moving on to more turbulent images.

Trolley in Karakoy Galata2

Turbulent Istanbul

Graffiti from Protest
Graffiti on the Istiklal Caddesi.

Burned Cars from Istanbul Riot
Burned cars in Taksim Square

Returning from a trip to Macedonia (see Macedonia page for more),
I was in Istanbul in early June during protests that erupted in late May and continued through the summer. The proximate cause was opposition to plans to redevelop Gezi Park, which is adjacent to Taksim Square. From this quickly emerged a diverse coalition with a sweeping indictment of the policies and rhetoric of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

After heavy responses by police, opposition spread to Ankara, Izmir and other cities.

These photographs were taken after the government temporarily ceded control to occupiers of Gezi Park and Taksim Square, after several days of street fighting. A few days later, police retook control over the Square and later removed protesters from Gezi Park. Sporadic protests and street fighting continued over the summer and into 2014.

I am the source of these images, except the one to the right, showing a woman being heavily sprayed with tear gas in early June. This became an iconic symbol of opposition, whose message relies on inverting the relative size of the officer and the protester.

Woman Protester in Red Woman in Red Cartoon

A traffic circle in Taksim Square dominated by the monument that commemorates the founding of the Turkish Republic, festooned with banners of the protesters.

A building that faces Taksim Square with larger protest banners as well as Turkey's flag and an image of Atatürk. Some banners represent illegal political parties. At the top, the slogan boyun eğme (roughly "don't submit") was another widely displayed symbol of protest. At the bottom, Tayyip istifa (calling the Prime MInisister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, to resign).

Taksim Square Protest
Viewl larger version of this image.
Taksim Square Protest Banners
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Burned out cars from fighting in Taksim Square. The building with the banners in previous photo is in the background of this image.

Burned Cars in Taksim
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Barricade erected by protesters on a side street that connects to Taksim Square.

Mellons and signs of protest near to where Istiklal Caddesi connects to Taksim Square.

Barricaded Street in Istanbul, blocking access to Taksim Square

A demonstration by women on the Istiklal Caddesi, June 8, near Galatasaray High School.

"Kampüs Cadilari" on the posters refers to the campus witches, shown sweeping away the Prime Minister. The political aesthetics of this protest could be found on any U.S. campus.

Women Protesters in Istanbul, by Galatasary High School

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© 2013 David Zaret