Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sunday, May 19, 2013

It has been an exhausting but rewarding weeks of wandering around Southeastern Anatolia, so I am back once again in Istanbul.   I flew from Diyarbakir after exploring the cities and towns of Gaziantep, the Syriac town of Midyat, the historical town on top of a rock hill - Mardin and the calming town of Hasankeyf.

It always feels good to be back in Istanbul.

Istanbul was a Caput Mundi during the Roman empire, Napoleon Bonaparte is quoted as saying -

"If the Earth were a single state, Constantinople would be its capital."  

It’s beautiful and teeming with activities, historical and contemporary sights.

Taksim Square.

The start of Istiklal Avenue as seen from Taksim Square.

I arrived at the busy Taksim Meydani or Taksim Square.  I like this square, it’s always alive, with pigeons flying low mingling with passersby coming from all directions onto the circle that encloses the Cumhuriyet Aniti or Monument of the Republic and onto Istiklal Caddesi (Independence Avenue).  People parades here everyday,  it seemed to me like half of the population of the city are passing by or just strutting from Taksim Square up to the Tunnel and back, a kilometer or so in length.  Millions of people walk up and down here every single day.

Everything is happening here.  Local residents and foreign tourists jostle elbow-to-elbow marching along, tourists gaping up at the lines of 19th century buildings, watching political group protests or rummage on some “indirims” (sale) at any of the fashionable shops.

The plaza in the middle of Istiklal Avenue.

Throngs of people parade along Istiklal Ave. every day.

Street protest.

When evening comes, the crowd is twice as much, people enjoying the night scenes - watching some street musicians or performers, partaking in local street dancing, eating chewy ice cream even on a freezing winter night, savoring local cuisine at one of the several “lokanta” (local restaurants) or hanging out at Starbucks, Gloria Jeans, or any other quaint cafes all lining both sides of the pedestrian street.  In the later part of the evening near to midnight, the younger crowd starts to hop from one bar to another located on its sokaks or narrow street branches.  

People street dancing in Istiklal Avenue.

Group of musicians.

Although activities in Taksim Square and Istiklal Caddesi is not always confined to shopping, dining, watching a movie, or parading along Istiklal Caddesi  as there are also some historical sights worth visiting like the lofty Galata Tower at the end of the street, the Flower Passage, St. Anthony of Padua Cathedral, Meryem Ana Rum Orthodox Church, Santa Maria Draperis, the Aya Triada whose dome and bell towers can be seen from Taksim Square, and so many others for tourists in the know.

The sights, the sounds, the smell of a vibrant city can all be summed up here.  It’s what I call the pulse of Istanbul.

Tired from a long trip, I dragged my luggage unmindful of things happening around me, got to the apartment and settled, need to rest for a while, have to recharge as the long trips drained almost all my energies.


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