Thursday, August 21, 2008

Nisantasi-Tesvikiye walking excursion

On a thesis-drained day, I've decided to walk around to get my mind away from things. I did a usual walk in the neighbourhoods of Tesvikiye, Nisantasi and Osmanbey. I have been doing these sort of inspirational, get-away walks since early teen years. This time, for a change, I decided to take pictures and present them here. So you can grasp what I saw when I wrote "gri yuruyus" for example.

Tesvikiye and Nisantasi are among the rich parts of Istanbul, first inhabited by Jewish, Greek and Armenian minorities in the 19th century. World-known brand shops, cafés, art centres and high rental rates determine the character of the area. Many of Istanbul's Art Nouveau style buildings are located here (the rest mostly around Beyoglu). The streets are gridded in a very modern approach and in between the high streets are residential areas with small textile and manufacturing shops increasing in numbers towards Sisli area.

Among these is a street that I believe to have made many astral trips to. One day I actually walked into this street, realising I had previously dreamt about it. Most likely scenario is that, I was taken there by my Mother when I was small, and one day in my teen years, I re-visited the place as it is close to where I live and had a false idea. Anyhow, ever since that day, that street has been special for me and many of my unplanned walking routes passed by it. I recognise this street from a bend it takes at the end of it, which is not so special for this area, yet distinctive. It is called Kuyumcu Irfan Sokak.

Irfan Kuyumcu Sokak opens up to the Suleyman Nazif Sokak which is the home for Pangalti Armenian High School, one of the few remaining schools for the few remaining Armenian minorities in Istanbul. Next to the school is a rather funny shoe-store: Nr. 39. The name must come from the door number of the building. Otherwise, I'd doubt all the shoes in this shop to be of size 39.

Suleyman Nazif Sokak opens up to the main street Rumeli Caddesi, one of the long shopping streets of Nisantasi. At the end of Rumeli Caddesi, is the junction with the long and wide Halaskargazi Avenue. An entrace to Osmanbey Underground Station (1 of only 6 underground stops Istanbul currently has) is here. This is the avenue Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was killed tragically. North end of Halaskargazi is Sisli district, the south end is the long Cumhuriyet (Republic) Avenue leading to Taksim Square.

It is Cumhuriyet Avenue I walked home from Taksim for years and years, meeting the regulars of the avenue: Transvestite prostitutes, abandoned cats near the Turkish State Radio (where I check the temperature from its digital display), soldiers guarding the Harbiye Military House asking for cigarettes and whistling away the people standing in front of the military territory, tourists walking into Harbiye Hilton Hotel, the students of Lycée Notre Dame de Sion. Familiar to and walked by only few, it is one of Istanbul's most diverse, controversial, yet enjoyable walks.

I head back via the new, extremely unnecessary and wrong-investment (due to location, accessibility, lack of demand) poshy shopping mall, City's of Nisantasi. After Nisantasi is back to Tesvikiye with the infamous Tesvikiye Mosque, where celebrities are usually mourned and prayed after before their last journey to eternity. You can sit just in front of the mosque entrance gaze at the people pass by into one of the cafés at the end of the day.

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