Ortaköy and Beyoğlu, Istanbul, Turkey

A few days after I enjoyed the old world feel of Eyüp where nearly every woman wears a headscarf and kids play kickball in narrow streets shared with cars, motorcycles and vendor pushcarts, I went looking for the more modern city.  Istanbul doesn’t have a downtown or an uptown or a central business district – its so big and sprawling that there are simply areas of commercial concentration and the surrounding residential areas around them in the same way their are islands in a crowded body of water.  But Ortaköy is one of the more shiny, new business areas.  Its got the Hilton and the Interncontinental Hotels, glassy high rise buildings and swanky modern clothing stores.  I think I started the walk with the idea that I’d find some sort of edge condition to the city but the only remotely edge like area I saw was the waterline.  Even that isn’t really an edge of the city – just a pause, because Istanbul continues on the Asian side of the Bosporus. Instead I looped back around and eventually found myself back at the end of the İstiklâl Caddesi.  See slide show two for more.

This area is more my stomping ground.  My hostel is just off the İstiklâl Caddesi, the a pedestrian shopping area which can have 3 million visitors per day on the weekends according to Wikipedia.  I can well believe it.  The crowds of people who pack it are astonishing at all hours of the day.  The buildings are really lovely turn of the century European classics – appropriate as this area was the “modern” city and Europan quarter when Istanbul was pulling itself forward into the 19th century.  At one end is the second metro tunnel ever built in the world – the underground funicular which moves people up the steeply sloping Galata hill and an antique street car still runs down the center of the street.  I shop for vegetables in one of the narrow side streets and send postcard from the post office just opposite.  Its also home to my favorite cafe – the very European Ara Kafe owned by Turkish documentary photographer Ara Güler.

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