January 23, 2014

Garipçe, A Little Village Untouched by Istanbul's Third Bridge

Last weekend I went with my photographer friend Murat Germen to another part of Istanbul, Garipçe. Recently, Garipçe has been frequently in the news because of the construction that is going on to build the third bridge and a new highway around Istanbul. Because of his background, Murat, who studied architecture, is very interested in the many projects that are going on in Istanbul at the moment. Urbanization is one of the projects he has been working on for a long time, and he therefore wanted to go to Garipçe.

On our way to Garipçe we passed a piece of land that used to be the property of the army. Maybe it is still theirs, but all we saw was a bare stroke of land. On both sides of the road there were signs that told us that entering was strictly forbidden.

We arrived in Garipçe and I was a bit relieved: At least this little village had not been touched by the construction of the third bridge over the Bosporus. Actually, standing in the harbor of Garipçe you cannot see anything of the construction whatsoever. But a boat was waiting for us and we directly sailed off to see the construction of the controversial third bridge. A lot has been written about it so far; people who are in favor of it come up with their ideas, and the people who are against it try every possibility to get their vision into the media. Finally, I was able to see with my own eyes how it would look from the Bosphorus.

I have to be honest with you; my first impression on seeing this construction was impressive. Two huge pillars stand there on the European side of the Bosphorus. On the other side, there are two more pillars, which are exactly the same height. It will not be long before they start reaching out for each other.

On the other hand, my problem is that yet another huge part of the already scarce forest that remains in and around Istanbul has or will be cut. If it was just the road I even might say: “Let’s think pink and this will be a solution for the traffic problems in and around Istanbul.” But there is a dark cloud hanging over the project as well. History shows this whenever such a project is realized. Think about the first and second bridge over the Bosphorus; shortly after being finished, on both sides of the new road people started building houses, offices and factories. I am scared that the same will happen with this project. The whole flora and fauna will be disturbed, animals will not be able to cross the highway and will be isolated in an area that will become smaller and smaller. In the end, together with the animals and trees, the lungs of Istanbul will be gone. 


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