Galata and the Airport


Galata is an urban district on the north shore of the Golden Horn. It was developed in the high middle ages by the Genoese as a trading colony adjacent to Constantinople.

This is one of the first buildings I encountered when I crossed the Galata bridge. Pretty obviously Italian in its design; but does it date from the period of Italian residency here?

The neighborhood, going up the hill, is extremely dense.

view from Galata Tower
From Galata Tower you get a wonderful overview of the neighborhood.

view from Galata Tower
Note the new universal roof decoration: satellite dishes.

view from Galata TowerIstanbul panorama 1: Suleymaniye mosque on the ridge, University Tower to the left of it.

view from Galata TowerPanorama 2: Galata Bridge in the middle, University Tower on the right.

view from Galata TowerPanorama 3: Sultan Ahmet mosque on the right, Hagia Sofiya on the left.

view from Galata Tower

view from Galata TowerGalata, the Bosphorous, and the Bosphorous bridge.

Ataturk Haveliman; Istanbul’s international airport

Marketing responds to many changes, including the rise of public piousness. So at the airport there are two large duty-free areas: one for liquor, tobacco, and perfume, and one for souvenirs. The souvenir shop has multiple bays, and each one seems to be dedicated to a different worldview. In the first bay, boxes of “Harem’s Secret” Turkish delight, with labeling in English and a classically orientalist painting of a white, reclining, nude woman on the cover. In the next bay, ‘tasteful Islamic’ souvenirs including plates with short prayers enameled on them. Then local handicrafts. And in the back, belly-dancing clothes and leather jackets. Walking around the store, I see another bay is done up in ‘tasteful Islamic.’

Duty-free bazaar
The duty-free “Bazaar”.

faux-antique escalator landing
Faux-antique panels at the escalator landing.

faux-antique escalator landing
“Harem’s Secret” Turkish delight candy (olive oil on the right)…

Tasteful Islamic
the ‘Tasteful Islamic’ section, done up in a spare Arab-modern.

Local handicrafts, including lovely lamps…

Tasteful Islamic
and the “Gipsy” section.

liquor and tobacco
The rather larger booze and smokes section…

phone booths
and the international-symbolic phone booths.

This reminds me that, unlike Afghans, Turks generally speak only Turkish. I did meet several Kurdish shopkeepers who, after hearing my list of English, French, and Farsi, offered Kurdish as an option. So it seems that Kurdish is openly tolerated even with strangers on the street in Istanbul. But, of those few who spoke a second language, it was Arabic. I expect they learned Arabic as part of religious education, and I noticed a fair number of Arabic-speaking tourists as well.

Because of my beard and my interest in mosques and prayer beads, a lot of Turks assumed I was Muslim, beginning with the passport-control officer who asked if I was Hajji. They would always ask kindly, discreetly, if I was Muslim. They were disappointed and a little embarrassed when I said no. Apparently it is still a sensitive question in public here.

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