Photo Essay: Istanbul, Turkey

turkey-flag.pngPhoto essay from a 2006 trip to Istanbul, Turkey. With a population of 12.6 million people, Istanbul is Turkey’s cultural and financial center, the nation’s largest city, and the fifth largest city-proper in the world. It straddles Europe and Asia, separated by the Bosphorus strait.

These pictures were taken with a disposable camera, which lends a weathered, 1970s quality to some of them.

Galata Bridge, connecting the old city (left) with the northern shore (right) of the Golden Horn, a tributary of the Bosphorus strait. One of the best meals in Istanbul is Balik ekmek (fish in bread), a sandwich of freshly caught fish from the Bosphorus, grilled as soon as it gets to shore, and served in a half-loaf of bread with salata (lettuce, tomatoes, and onions). The sandwiches are sold directly from fishing boats that tie up at the sides of the bridge.

Walking across the Galata Bridge toward Beyoğlu, a part of the city that has been inhabited for millennia and is now one of Istanbul’s most vibrant arts, entertainment, and nightlife centers.

Ferry Terminal at Eminönü, a busy tourist district to the south of the Galata Bridge that contains Topkapı Palace (seat of the Ottoman Empire from 1465-1856), Haghia Sofia (built by Byzantine emperor Justinian), and the Blue Mosque.

Plans for an undeground train station at Sirkeci Street in the Eminönü district. Sirkeci is the area surrounding Sirkeci Station, terminus of the legendary Orient Express and a major transit hub for Istanbul. The new station is part of the Marmaray Tunnel project, currently under construction to connect the European and Asian sides of Istanbul. When the tunnel is completed, rail travel is projected to rise from 3.6% to 27.7%, potentially putting Istanbul’s rail use third highest in the world, behind Tokyo and New York City.

Bosphorus Bridge, looking to the Asian side of Istanbul. The Bosphorus strait is a key shipping channel for Russian oil from Black Sea ports.

Bosphorus Bridge and skyline of Levent, a major financial and business district on the European side of Istanbul.

Sultan Ahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque), in the Sultanahmet district. I recommend the Hotel Nomade in Sultanahmet.

Cats, like this tiny kitten near the Haghia Sophia in Sultanahmet, are a fixture near restaurants, public plazas, and covered markets like the legendary Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar.

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