January 23, 2011

Impressions of Istanbul (Part I) By Jack Souther


From Camlica Hill, the highest point in greater Istanbul, we can see across the Bosphorus to the Golden Horn and beyond to the fortified walls built by the Romans 1,600 years ago. The Bosphorus, a narrow marine channel running north to south between the Marmara and Black Seas, separates Europe from Asia and it runs right through the middle of the city, making Istanbul the only city on earth that straddles the boundary between two continents.

The Golden Horn, a long inlet extending westward from the Bosphorus, divides the European side of the city into two parts. From the Golden Horn south to the Marmara Sea the "Old City" bristles with minarets and the domes of 14th century churches while north of the Golden Horn the "New City" is a mix of apartments and businesses with all the challenges of a rapidly growing modern city.

The three parts of the city are linked together by suspension bridges across both the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn.

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With its tulip gardens, lawns and shade trees it's where the Imperial family once came to relax and play. But what was once a refuge reserved for the ruling elite is now shared by everyone. We were immediately surrounded by a swarm of enthusiastic and curious kids on a school outing - "Where are you from?" "Is Canada far away?" "Do you enjoy your visit here?" - Their command of English surprised me but it shouldn't have. Istanbul may be very old but it is also one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world and, with Turkey poised to become part of the European family of nations, these kids are part of a new generation that is destined to see their city transformed yet again.

Read More on Pique News Magazine: Impressions of Istanbul (Part I) By Jack Souther

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