May 28, 2011

Istanbul - A Tale of Two Cities

The city walls of Constantinople were famously impenetrable. A millennium's worth of would-be invaders perished at their base until the Ottoman armies of Mehmet II breached them in 1453 and found a new name for the conquered city: Istanbul. They're still pretty treacherous.

As my friend and I climbed some higgledy-piggledy steps to the top of the ruined fortification on a clear winter morning, a man with a suspicious moustache and an armful of piping called to us: 'Hayir!' That means no. He pointed out that the staircase we were climbing ended in a sheer drop: an Escher-esque optical illusion had blinded us to this abrupt fact. 'Better!' he said, gesturing towards a steeper ascent, though one that at least had the benefit of not throwing the triumphant climber to an absurd and painful death.

Read more on This is London: Istanbul - A Tale of Two Cities


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