Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Walking about in Instanbul near Chora Museum, Synagogues, Sahan Lokantasi Cafe and neighbourhood, Istanbul, Turkey

After we’d visited Chora Museum, the extraordinary Byzantine Museum (church), and shopped in near by Taner Makus Art Studio, my guide, Mehmet Tetik (\tetik) suggested we walk to a little cafe he’d eaten at nearly monthly for over fifteen years.  The Sahan Lokantasi Cafe.
He said that the area was a mix of  middle class, lower middle class and even some gypsy housing. There were also some synagogues that were very old indeed. Unfortunately the oldest was only open to view at certain early times  in the day.   He also said that the area’s cafes  were often frequented by film makers and artists.  I so enjoy walking about cities and Mehmet was a most enjoyable companion for these jaunts.  He shared wonderful stories about the people, places and history of Istanbul and Turkey.
The government decided to provide housing for gypsy’s at one place but the units they built were too attractive and became too expensive for the gypsies to afford.  Artists moved in and fixed them up even more and the price went higher. One famous gay artist was so good at this that he made himself rich but also transformed a whole neighbourhood from lower class to a very desirable middle class urban environment.   The gypsies got different accommodation but eventually moved further out from the city centre  where they got even better accommodation with government assistance where everything was even more affordable.
"There’s all kinds of gentrification going on in different sections of the city while others are deteriorating until someone comes in to restore them. “
He described the urban transformation that goes on the world over.  In a city of more than 11 million with such ancient history it’s even more complex.
“Often noble women take on the cause of a district and develop schools and hospitals. doing such good works is thought of highly by Muslims."
He described the various building codes in the city and said that only on the outskirts were high rises allowed because of the height restrictions in place to preserve the city skyline.
The Sahan Lokantasi cafe was a treat. We had a delicious stuffed pepper with  meat cubes in a yogurt tomato sauce.  

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