January 09, 2011

Istanbul as Seen by Travelers, Neighborhood by Neighborhood

<<(Burçak) Evren’s book features the writings of more than 30 travelers, including Alphonse de Lamartine, Baroness Durand De Fontmagne, Evliya Çelebi, Gerard De Nerval, Knut Hamsun, Julia Pardoe, Pierre Loti and Sermet Muhtar Alus. The neighborhoods are listed in alphabetical order. The book starts off with Adalar (the islands) and continues on with Ahırkapı, Anadoluhisarı and so on. The last neighborhoods mentioned are Yeniköy and Yeşilköy.

Aubry de la Mortraye, 1732
In Galata and Beyoğlu, just like in the European neighborhood in İzmir, the Europeans live by their own customs without any hindrance. Beyoğlu, that houses the palaces of the British, French, Flemish and Venetian envoys, could be called the “European neighborhood.” That’s because most of the Europeans own residences here and are free to lead the life they like. On Mardi Gras, they play masquerade, sing and drink. In short, they are free to enjoy any and all sorts of indulgence and entertainment as long as they do not infringe on the Turkish religion, the Turkish state or Turkish women.

Sermet Muhtar Alus, 1939
Balat is the most distinctive and characteristic Jewish neighborhood in İstanbul. It used to be called Balat Gate because it used to have a gate on the city walls right by the seaside. … The current state of Balat is very well off compared to its former times. On Saturdays, Balat is filled with gentlefold: old men with beards reaching down to their bellies and fur coats on their backs and Jewish women with needle lace headscarves wrapped around their heads and velvet coats with furs on their backs.>>

Read More on Sunday's Zaman: Istanbul as Seen by Travelers, Neighborhood by Neighborhood


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