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A brush with Istanbul

December 7, 2012

Istanbul

By Katrin Schönig:

I did not have long in Istanbul, little more than scratching the surface as I was in the city for work, but the short time I had convinced me that I want to return, to delve deeper into a place where the mix of the traditional and the modern is so inspiring. You walk through the streets, and watch people rush into the nearest Gucci store as the call to prayer sounds from a nearby mosque. In the Grand Bazaar the vendors are sitting on their small chairs, sipping one tea after the next, all the while talking quickly into their mobile phones. Istanbul is so alive, and at the same time packed with fascinating history.

One of my favourite places I caught a glimpse of was the Basilica Cistern, a place built when this was still Constantinople, and one that you might recognise from a scene with Sean Connery racing through as James Bond. I was being shown around by Ziad, who told me fascinating stories, such as how the columns were recycled from the ruins of the older buildings from various parts of the empire. Sometimes their use seemed to be somewhat haphazard but they were carved beautifully. I was lucky that the Cistern were nearly empty when we visited. It had a very soothing atmosphere and I left it feeling very small…

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Words & Pictures: Katrin Schönig

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