Crude labeling often sticks unduly to some cities but “where east meets west” is loaded with enough history, diversity and flux to appropriately encapsulate something of the essence of Istanbul. The “European side” is adorned with classical architecture, punctuated by mosques and other Islamic iconography. The “Asian side” similarly dotted by churches and synagogues, expresses a character a plenty, albeit in more subtle ways.
You only need listen to Turkey’s most prominent artist Sezen Aksu’s music to hear the interchanging of orchestra and Anatolian sounds to note that there really is a push and pull of different civilizations beating at the heat of Turkey’s largest city.
The harmony and energy is pushing the skyline ever higher, with modern apartment blocks taking their place alongside minarets. This is part of Istanbul’s newer history, although modern city living is stubbornly resisted by pockets of cultural stasis, where time is a plenty and fisherman line the bridges in search of fish with seagulls and the easy waves of the Bosphorus for company.
All photos by Ramis Cizer