A skyline of domes and minarets, the sounds of
the vendors in the bazaars and the ezan in the
air, the rich smells of spices and tea, the visual
feast of colorful scarves and Iznik tiles... These
are the things that simply are Istanbul.
To visit Istanbul is to immerse yourself in an overload
of the senses. Istanbul the name that conjures up
so many images for so many people is a living
breathing city, and not just a name from history.
True, this is the site of one of the most
impressive buildings of all times - the Aya Sofya --
and the ancient rubble of columns and statues
literally line the street in one section of the
We must not forget Topkapi Palace, complete with
harem quarters, where sultans lived and ruled the
once vast empire. Nor can we forget the living
museum that is the Grand Bazaar, selling wares in
much the same way as they were sold hundreds of
years ago. But Istanbul offers far more than relics,
as some twelve million who make this their home,
When I began writing this monthly column a couple of
years ago, it was because I felt the need for a venue in
which to give voice to feelings and insights
into the nature of everything that had
been occasioned by my experience here in the
city of Istanbul.
I’ve continued because, for one
thing, I discovered that writing it every
month helps to put me in touch with aspects of
this culture I think are worth exploring.
For another, the column provides a way
for like-minded people to communicate with me.
I get letters not only from Turkey, but
from all over the world.
of the great things about these columns is
that although they are indeed deeply personal
and often very philosophical they also
function to convey something of what life in
Turkey is like.
Since this is one of the most
misunderstood countries in the world, I
consider that very important indeed.
culture is incredibly complex and so are the
What you read in newspapers and in
magazines like Time and Newsweek doesn't come
close to honoring that. Turkey is much, much
more than the Blue Mosque, the Bosphorus, the
covered bazaar, and all those other things you
see if you come here as a tourist. Of course,
the column is only a map of the territory, but
it does help provide a way into the deeper
realities of a country that really is a hidden
In so many ways, Istanbul truly is a unique city -
Istanbul straddles the Bosphorus Strait, placing it
in both Europe and Asia. Reflecting its
geography, the personality of the city often feels
contradictory. Istanbul is a place of great
tradition, great meaning, and great change
is also a place of unparalleled beauty.
Alphonse de Lamartine, perhaps the most romantic
of the French poets, visited Istanbul in the 1830’s.
He wrote that in Istanbul, “God, Man, Nature
and Art have conspired to create the most marvelous view
that the human eye can contemplate on Earth.”
and experience Istanbul for yourself.
in a 4-floor restored
wooden house, is ’s worth a trip to Medusa
just for the atmosphere. Luckily,
the food doesn’t embarrass the ambience.
Seminal Hotel is in City Centre of Taksim
becoming one of the most well known
destinations in Istanbul, Les Arts Turcs is
a must for all info-seeking new arrivals to