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Istanbul’s

Bosphorus Bridge

There’s a saying many attribute to German philosopher and cultural critic Walter Benjamin: “The illiterate of the future will not be the man who can’t read the alphabet but the man who can’t take a photograph.” And, in fact, one of the fastest rising trends in recent years must be counted as photography.

Professional cameras can be seen hanging around necks everywhere you go. And everyone seems to be in pursuit of capturing the most arresting photos they can. Within the general panorama of Turkey, there’s little question that İstanbul occupies a special spot in people’s lenses. But the shots taken of İstanbul seem to be changing with time. It’s not just those classic shots taken across from Kız Kulesi, showing off the sunset. In fact, those on Instagram in particular seem to be in hot pursuit now of sharing with us the more unknown, unseen quarters of the city. And some serious time is being spent on this pursuit.

Golden Horn metro stop
The Golden Horn metro bridge, which opened on Feb. 15, 2014, was heavily criticized for “ruining” the silhouette of İstanbul. These criticisms withered with time and have since come to a halt. In fact, this disputed bridge has now become a favorite site for those interested in photographing the city. Some even ride the metro here just to get a good shot.

Tomb of Yahya Efendi
Yahya Efendi of Beşiktaş was nursed by the same woman as Süleyman the Magnificent. After Grand Vizier Mustafa was killed, relations between Yayha Efendi and Süleyman went sour. In reaction to the criticisms he received about the way Mustafa was killed, Sultan Süleyman removed Yayha Efendi from his teaching position at Sahn-ı Seman Medresesi, where he had been working, and forced him into retirement. But Yayha Efendi went on to set up the dervish lodge that now stands on the hills of Beşiktaş, breaking off formal relations with the palace. His tomb is said to be one of the four main protectors of the Bosporus. The small gazebo that lies next to the mosque where his tomb is located is a favorite spot for photographers looking out onto the city.

Pierre Loti hill
Looking out over the entire vista of the Golden Horn, the Pierre Loti hill is a place many wish to visit for the views. This spot is named after 19th-century French author Pierre Loti because he used to love to come here and drink Turkish coffee and smoke nargile. This is another spot at which avid photographers of İstanbul are known to lie in wait, anticipating the next best shot they can get of the city.

Beşiktaş-Kadıköy ferry
Some people love the ferries that crisscross the Bosporus and Sea of Marmara. The Üsküdar-Eminönü, Üsküdar-Haliç, Kadıköy-Karaköy or even Eminönü-Kadıköy lines… the list goes on and on. But the Beşiktaş-Kadıköy ferry takes a little longer to complete its journey than the others, and because it passes so close to the infamous Kız Kulesi, it is the line of choice for those interested in capturing the city. And, of course, there is much to capture when you take one of the long rides that goes up and down the Bosporus, bringing you within arm’s reach of places like Ortaköy, Kuzguncuk, Beylerbeyi, Kandilli, Anadoluhisarı, Kanlıca and Emirgan.

Maçka Park cableway
Another hot photography base is the Maçka Democracy Park cableway. It takes about three-and-a-half minutes to ride from one side to the other, but this route has turned into almost a laboratory work spot for photographers — a perfect spot from which to capture Dolmabahçe Palace!

Beylerbeyi Mosque courtyard
The founder of the famous Beylerbeyi Mosque, also known as the Hamid-i Evvel Mosque, was Sultan Abdülhamid I. Deeply affected by having been orphaned at a young age, this sultan ordered this mosque built in the name of his mother, Rabia Sultan. The mosque, which looks out over the Bosporus, can be heard to the west as well as to the east, and carries the stylistic traces of 18th-century Ottoman times. The outer courtyard, located to its northwest, makes you feel as though you are in the palm of the Bosporus. This being the case, once again, you can find city photographers aplenty here.

Kadıköy’s İstanbul bookseller
You can find İstanbul booksellers in many touristic spots around the city. This particular bookseller, which functions on the terrace floor of one of the buildings at the Kadıköy docks, is very popular these days. You can find not only books concerning İstanbul here but all sorts of great little gift ideas. And as you sip your tea here, don’t forget to photograph old Kadıköy, and in particular the historic Haydarpaşa train station.

TRAMVAY

The Istiklal Street and Historic Tram Lane Application Project, with its 15 million Turkish lira ($5.2 million) budget, became one of the most prominent items of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality’s (IBB) investment and service budget for 2016.

The TL 16.1 billion ($5.57 billion) budget will be put to vote in the municipal council on Nov. 12. The TL 12.7 billion part of the budget will be funded through taxes, while loans will be used for the remaining part.

Mayor Kadir Topbaş stated that a total of 630 projects, which include 358 investments and 272 services, will be funded through the budget. He added that 67 percent of the budget, which account for TL 8.26 billion, was spared for investments. New investments will receive TL 4.36 billion from the budget.

Transportation again received the largest share from the budget with TL 5.5 billion, which accounts for 44.7 percent of the total budget. TL 1.8 billion was spared for the European Side Rail Systems Directorate while the Asian side received TL 1.3 billion.

For one of the main items of the 2014 local election campaign, the underground road tunnel to cross the Golden Horn, TL 100 million was spared for the years of 2016 – 2018. Zoning and road construction works in Kadıköy district’s Fikirtepe neighborhood received TL 9 million.

Budget items included road tunnel projects between Dolmabahçe, Fulya, Levazım and Armutlu neighborhoods in central European district of Beşiktaş, Üsküdar – Çekmeköy subway project and Beykoz – Karlıtepe and Beykoz Meadow – Hz. Yuşa (Prophet Joshua) Hill cable car projects on the Asian side. The cable car project stretching from the district of Mecidiyeköy on the European side to Çamlıca Hill on the Asian side was also one of the most prominent items included in the budget.

An impressive lineup of spectacular artists from Estonia, Israel, Germany, Russia and Turkey opened İstanbul’s 2015-2016 classical season during the first week of October. In four different concert venues much of the programming was basically traditional, with three programs offering late 18th century fare and one program venturing backwards to the Medieval-Renaissance era.

In the traditional classical category, the Albert Long Hall series at Boğaziçi University and İstanbul Recitals in the Seed at Sakıp Sabancı Museum, each offered solo concerts by two superb artists: German cellist Daniel Müller-Schott and Palestinian-Israeli pianist Saleem Ashkar, who performed Bach and Beethoven, respectively. The Monday evening chamber music series at Kadıköy’s Süreyya Opera House featured a “Schubertiade” — a program devoted to the music of Austrian composer Franz Schubert.

Representing 200 years between the 15th and 17th centuries, the Hortus Musicus early music ensemble from Tallinn, Estonia, performed Renaissance and Baroque gems at the Naval Museum (a debut of this venue for classical music) on Oct. 2. Just behind the ensemble was a spectacular scene: Two ornate replicas of Ottoman ships from this same time period loomed impressively, adding more magic to the ancient music.

Presented by adventurous entrepreneur Hakan Erdoğan, who often chooses unusual places to host music events, the Estonian group, under the direction of Andres Mustonen, delighted the crowd with spirited renditions of vocal and instrumental works by German, Italian, English and Spanish composers who lived between 1460 and 1713.

Beginning with a suite of dances from Michael Praetorius’ “Terpsichore” (1612), the nine-member group, playing instruments like the shawm, recorders, shalmei and dulcian in addition to violin, harpsichord and percussion, gave stirring and festive renditions of works by Monteverdi, Castello, Morley, Purcell, Corelli, Ortiz and Encina with great spirit — and a little updating here and there. Resident arranger (and excellent baritone) Tonis Kaumann spiced up a few pieces with his own arrangements that incorporated jazzy bass lines, Stephane Grappelli-esque violin improvs for Mustonen (who led the group as he played violin), percussive effects, and zippy tempos that kept the audience snapping and clapping.

An effervescent Schubert evening
A Schubertiade is a long tradition in the Germanic countries, and one that honors this composer’s vast oeuvre (composed in a short lifetime — he died at 31) encompassing numerous song cycles, solo sonatas, small ensemble works and many orchestral works which include nine symphonies.

For the occasion at Süreyya on Oct. 5, a masterful sextet was organized by violinist Cihat Aşkın, who was joined by pianist Cana Gürmen, violist Çetin Aydar, Russian cellist Konstantin Manaev, and bassist Burak Marlalı. “We chose to do a Schubertiade because chamber music, especially Schubert’s, gives such a warm feeling — like having a cup of tea with friends,” Aşkın told the audience. The sold-out audience evidently agreed, as their warm reception of the performance was a clear sign of enjoyment of the program which included two delightful chestnuts: the “Arpeggione” Sonata for cello and piano and the famous “Trout” quintet.

Manaev’s performance of the sonata was a thing of wonder, with effortless mastery and technical security, and in the quintet with Marlalı, their consummate ensemble skills were a joy to watch. Pianist Gürmen did a yeoman’s work all evening as the able partner, giving elegant buoyancy to all of the virtuosic and demanding works.

Bach and Britten at Boğaziçi
Müller-Schott, despite fighting a bad cold, took the stage at Albert Long Hall on Oct. 7 and gave his all to the musical mysteries of J.S. Bach’s solo cello suites, alongside a similar suite by Benjamin Britten, taking the audience on a satisfying and blissful journey.

The Bach solo cello suites, No. 2 and 3, are muscular and mathematical within their melodic worlds, and Britten’s solo suite No. 2 is a thorny conundrum of playful and dissonant moods, albeit a nice contrast to Bach. Written in 1967 for Mstislav Rostropovich, Britten’s mid-century experimentation stretched the lyrical capabilities of the cello while giving a couple of humorous tips of the hat to Bach. Müller-Schott’s extraordinary devotion to detail in his performance of Britten helped those first-time listeners grasp its mysteries, too.

This artist’s assured, inspired and thoroughly grounded performance of such a challenging unaccompanied program portends a prodigious beginning to the 19th season of the Albert Long Hall concerts, and one that audiences will be talking about for years to come.

Ashkar at The Seed
İstanbul Recitals’ ninth season got off to a thrilling start with pianist Saleem Ashkar, who shook up The Seed with an all-Beethoven program on Oct. 8.

The young but duly seasoned artist demonstrated a fascinating through-line in the composer’s 32 piano sonatas, starting with No. 1 and ending with No. 31. The sonatas performed included the famous “Appassionata” (No. 23) and “Les Adieux” (No. 26). The most difficult task was to illuminate No. 1’s comparatively uninspired boilerplate from which Beethoven had started on his sonata journey. Following with No. 23, Ashkar gave us a quantum leap: in only three movements (instead of the customary four) Ludwig’s impetuous and supremely athletic contributions to piano repertoire had become history-making.

This, where Ashkar startled his audience with a bolt of energy and abundant technical fluidity in the many virtuosic passages that came like a blitz after brooding contemplation. In all the many performances of this keyboard masterpiece I’ve heard, this was one of the most electrifying. In addition to bringing out the punchy, pointillistic syncopations in the left hand and the knuckle-busting demands for the right hand, Ashkar brings his own fervent impetuosity to the genre — one that is very well matched to Beethoven — and one that is not easily forgotten.

Brooklyn Mayor Eric Adams met with Istanbul’s Üsküdar Mayor Hilmi Türkmen in New York on Monday.

Türkmen and city council member Osman Aydın visited Adams in his office, who runs fourth largest U.S. municipality of Brooklyn.

The meeting included bilateral projects on culture, education and commerce between Brooklyn and Üsküdar, which recently became sister cities on August, along with Turkey’s contributions to refugees from Syria.

Mayor Adams stated that Turkey’s aid is praiseworthy and there are ongoing talks in Washington for the U.S. to aid refugees. Türkmen underlined that Turkey is left alone in this issue and Europe does not take its responsibility.

Adams reminded that he visited Turkey in August upon the invitation of Üsküdar Municipality and he was fascinated with the country. “Turkey is important for us in every aspect. I will do everything I can to improve our relations.”

Mayor Türkmen stated that they will visit Brooklyn with a very large delegation next year and ink additional deals.

Istanbul cross-Bosporus trafficIstanbul’s Metropolitan Municipality will launch a new car ferry line on the Bosporus to relieve the clogged cross continental traffic especially suffered during rush hour.

Turkish daily Habertürk reported that the new line will between the İstinye neighborhood located in the European side and the Çubuklu neighborhood in the Asian side.

New car ferry line to relieve Istanbul’s cross-Bosporus traffic

The line will especially relieve the traffic in the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge, located further north than the Bosporus Bridge, and the commercial districts such as Maslak, Levent and Kavacık.

The daily capacity of the line is expected to be around 10,000 cars with ferries departing in 10 minute intervals during peak hours. More than 100 trips a day is being planned from both sides of the Bosporus.

During the first phase of the projects, three ferries with a capacity of 70 to 80 vehicles will serve in the line, and new ferries will later be built specifically for the line.

New car parks and wharfs in İstinye and Çubuklu will start operating in a couple months. New wharfs will also be served and connected to other mass transportation lines by ring buses of Istanbul’s transport body IETT.

Istanbul is famous for its large, lumbering ferries which make thousands of journeys across the Bosphorus every year. Now, residents are up in arms over multi-million-dollar plans to introduce new ‘unconventional’ ships.

For generations, Istanbulites have enjoyed crossing the sea and being able to toss pieces of Turkish bread (simit) to flocks of seabirds which routinely follow the ferries on their many journeys.

However, this iconic scene could be a rarer sight if the fleet of new ships is introduced.

Last week, the three ferries – named Durusu, Goksu and Kucuksu – were introduced by Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbas at an inauguration ceremony in Sariyer.

The domestically designed craft – built at a cost of 13.5 million euros ($15.3 million) – are enclosed, meaning the days of passengers being within touching distance of the water could be over.

However, the ferries’ supporters point to the 700-passenger-capacity crafts’ modern facilities – including improved access for disabled people.

The ships have also been designed with better maneuverability and propulsion to cope with the strong tides and currents of the Bosphorus strait. Their double-ended design means the ferries are also able to navigate from one dock to another without having to turn around.

In March 2005, five new ferries, whose designs were selected by a referendum of people living in Istanbul, plus three new Golden Horn ferries with panoramic views, began to serve passengers.

Istanbulites also ‘slammed’ the latest ferries for lacking an open deck, claiming that ‘Istanbul means feeding seagulls with simit from a ferry.’

The ferry is one of the oldest means of transportation in Istanbul as the city is naturally separated by the Bosphorus strait and surrounded by sea.

Although the ferries have been replaced by the Bosphorus bridges and the Marmaray undersea rail tunnel, they still have a key role in the history of the city and carry a huge number of people.

City-line Ferries’ general director, Suleyman Genc, previously told Anadolu Agency that in 2010, the number of passengers transported via the ferries in Istanbul was 43 million per year, whereas the number increased to 45 million in 2011 and to 50 million in 2012.

It reached its record high level in 2013 with the number of 53,500,000 passengers.

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