Let Istanbul Become Your Scheherazade!
Winter came a long time ago, but I feel like I have woken up from sleep; energetic and full of life. The effect of the things that bothers you does not last for a long time. I cannot stay mad truly offened at anyone. I feel relieved, l let myself flow with a feeling thought lost a long time ago.
l go outside whenever l can. I want to wash myself with the sun, I want my hair to blow, my eyes to catch snow or dust, follow the clouds that change their shapes all the time and get rid of the depressive accumulations that have piled inside me. And l do something lam late at with this eagerness; l cover Istanbul with its provocative beauty.
I am not alone. I have friends who do not fall behind me with their energy and know that lstanbul means history, archaeology, culture, art and “street’’. We designate different rotes each weekend for our sightseeing. Our meeting place changes; sometimes we pick the Taksim Square, sometimes the pier in Beşiktaş and sometimes the plane tree in Kuzguncuk. We wander around by entering every narrow street we see, diving into each space hidden between two buildings, going to the gardens of historic places, wondering why we did not see some things despite being there before, having a tea break at small old coffee shops, taking photos and opening ourselves to surprises.
One day we visited the streets, houses around Rumelihisarı and another day we went touring Eminönü, Çemberlitaş, Beyazit, Cankurtaran. Two weeks ago we were at Karaköy, Unkapani, Çarşamba, Kadirga, Fener and Balat.
And some places we always go, insistently. I can’t even remember how many times we went and fell in love with Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, Süleymaniye Mosque, Church Sent Antuan, Galata Tower, Doğan Apartment, Grand Bazaar and the surrounding small hans.
These places I mentioned are special and open magical doors Histories mix together and you find yourself in a sweet time machine by passing a smoke cloud. Especially when you give up on looking at the buildings that waited and kept quiet for centuries after gone through difficulties for thousands of years and that survived against time as stone and iron, then Istanbul will be your Scheherazade. The city will tell you stories and tales while you volunteer to listen with an endless devotion.
Let me tell you one of my adventures, it is a very new one already Two weeks ago we spent a night in Sunken Palace for a report by taking a special permission. This Palace which was near Hagia Sophia was a magnificent but scary place with its shadowy hallways, huge lonely Medusa sculptures that stayed upside down with their melancholic faith and with its high marble columns rising from black waters that had fat carps swimming… Its story is really very interesting. lt was made by the Byzantine Emperor Justinianos in 532 to supply the Byzantine Palace’s water needs. It is said to be a ghost building even when it was new, because the 336 columns used in the construction were collected from wracked, burned, desolated temples one by one. One has an old style Egyptian type eyes on it. One of the most amazing and scary thing that the Sunken Palace has its eclectic architecture. We should also not forget the carps’ human-like high-pitched noise which occurs when they occasionally pull their head out of the water.
Anyway, that night was a marvellous one for a person like me who is interested in archaeology, history, derelict buildings and spooky stories. While I was listening to the whispers echoing in the hallways, always had in mind this story l once read in a book: The cistern was forgotten for a long time after the Ottomans conquered lstanbul until the traveller Dutchman Gyllius came here in the 16. century Gyllius saw big, round holes resembling a pit around the neighbourhood of Hagia Sophia Houses and he started to ask around. It turned out that people took water with buckets from those holes inside their houses, and there even were people who caught fishes. Later he found out this stone steps that went downstairs in a yard of a big house and he set out with his torch in his hand. We owe the rediscovery of the Sunken Palace to this man who entered a hole with a small boat measuring every nook and cranny by designating each column in the dark.
There are many nice stories in lstanbul of course, however the image of people fishing from a hole of their houses was splendid to me. felt like was in the middle of a surreal movie. It was like if l held my head up, would see a hole in the ceiling with a fishing line dangling from there. And I would say “Heyy I am here! Is everything okay, can you hear me?”.
We finished that night both amazed by what we had seen and by chilling because of the darkness and cold and we threw ourselves outside in the morning. Boat whistles, noise of the fighting cats and woodnotes were following the sound of the call to prayer A new day had begun but Istanbul had not slept.
Let me give you a secret: Istanbul which is a city that was born from the marriage of East and West which was thought of being impossible, is also the world’s most fabulous sleepless city. Always up always in motion and changing and transforming with an unbelievable continuity. One can discover many different things even from a place visited many times before at this city where some things stay the same for many centuries with admirable peacefulness, and some things renew in a hard to catch speed. You live adventures and enter a new dream every day.
I will continue to “walk lstanbul” with different rotes for a long time with my friends because love it so much. A piece of my heart always misses this city even when I am at the most beautiful places in the world. I want to come back without wandering around and get lost among the beautiful streets of lstanbul. I know that when I get lost properly, I will find myself. I recommend this to you to; let stanbul become your Scheherazade. Who knows, maybe we will come across at a corner of the time machine.
by GÜNAY BÖREKÇİ