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Thursday, January 29, 2009

The First One... It's about my hometown Istanbul

The first stop is Istanbul, my home town.
Nothing fancy, just everyday life and a few pictures of the historical places.

The upcoming Clive Owen movie "The International" was shot partly in Istanbul and looking at the trailer of the film, the crew did a great job showing the beauty of my home town!

Istanbul, much like Turkey, is like an open air museum. There is so much history in the city whether it is thousands of years old or from the beginning of the last century; if you are a history buff, you would spend days in one area devoring the rich culture and all the contrasts the neighborhood has to offer. Here are a few of the world famous monuments...

The entrance of Topkapi Palace.

The Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii).

Inside the Blue Mosque.
It is truly an impressive piece of architecture!

View of the Hagia Sophia from the court of the Blue Mosque, which took this name because of its blue tiles on its innerwalls. The Blue Mosque was commissioned by Sultan Ahmet I (hence its original name) as a rival to Hagia Sophia and designed by architect Mehmet Aga. Construction on the Blue Mosque began in 1609 and took 7 years. Sultan Ahmet died only a year after the completion of his masterpiece, at the age of 27. He is buried just outside the Blue Mosque with his wife and 3 sons. I love this shot as these two great monuments stand hand-in-hand, looking at each others "eyes" and trying to be an example how two religions and two civilizations can co-exist...

I love candid shots...
The posters behind the man with the newspaper and similar other ones are all around the city as Istanbul gets ready to become The European Capital of Culture in 2010. Click here for more info.

The famous Kapalı Çarşı (Grand Bazaar). My friend Bülent Ağaçayak welcomed us and offered us some tea at his store Fancy. After the tea, we walked around and shopped in this vast bazaar.

Grand Bazaar's surface is about 76 acres, it has 61 streets, 10 wells, 4 fountains, 2 mosques and almost 4000 shops. It is usually seperated by districts.

If you are shopping at the grand Bazaar, you have to bargain! The shop owners expect that and that is part of the experience. Unless, of course, you are Turkish and you know your way around it. Then you get the cheapest price right away!

From the Grand Bazaar, you may take the tram or walk (half an hour of a hike down the hill) to Mısır Çarşısı (Spice Bazaar).

It is a very colorful place and I had a blast shooting in there!

Along with all the spices you could ever imagine, all kind of sweets and a rich variety of tea are available at the Spice Bazaar...

Much like San Francisco, Istanbul is built on and around the water. The best time to visit Istanbul is either spring or fall. The public transportation may not be the best ever, but it is becoming better everyday while the traffic is getting worst. The subway/tramway system connects a huge part of the city's European side, while a new project will connect Europe to Asia using the rail system via the first bridge on the Bosphorus.Along with this rail system, the ferries are the best and one of the most pleasant transportation in Istanbul. On a nice day, you can sit outside, watch the spectacular view sipping your tea.

There are many marketplaces in Istanbul where you can find almost anything. I love the vibrant aspect of these places where you truly feel the city come alive. The above shots are from the Kadiköy Market. Fresh produce, fresh wild-caught fish, an amazing array of food to choose from and many independent coffee houses to frequent; this place is one of my favorite place to hang around.

The first meal of 2009 was Turkish style breakfast in Kanlıca, a small neighborhood on the Bosphorus. Part of the restaurant was literaly on the water and we had a great meal, with a great view and with great company! Way to kick off a new year!

I would like to finish with animals... Istanbul is a heaven of street cats and dogs. You can find many cats in every corner, the people usually take care of them and they live freely in the streets, and the dogs, although not as many as cats, are also roaming free and are taken care by the people of Istanbul.

This big puppy somewhow ended up in the middle of bunch of cats and he was a little stressed, yet curious to see if the cats would like to play...

The cats were not that interested...

This guy was hanging out at the Kadıköy Market and when I started to take pictures of him, he started to pause and do all kinds of crazy stuff! It was awesome!

Well, this is it for January 2009.
By the end of February 2009, I will have another photography blog up here. Please let me know if you have any comments or questions... I would love to hear from you!

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