Things to Do with Kids in Istanbul: Istiklal Street

We spend lots of time walking up and down İstiklal Caddesi (Istiklal Street). It is one of the most vibrant places in Istanbul and one of the rare places you can see people outside the mainstream parading (reasonably) confidently. It's still what I don't see that surprises me, so different from the 'anything goes' vibe of similar streets in London. This is a great place to take teenagers to eat, pose, catch a movie, and maybe a protest. As you pass the Galatasaray  High School you could tell them about the 'Saturday Mothers' who for years stood here bravely every Saturday in vigil for their disappeared relatives. I let my brother stay on this street by himself while I packed for our flight to England a few years ago and he turned up just as we were heading for the taxi.  He was 15, 6 foot, blonde and beautiful (now even more so) and it was the first place in Istanbul he felt completely at ease (I probably shouldn't have sent him to a football match at Beşiktaş' stadium!). In another escapade on this street Ville's Mum broke her leg here before it was pedestrianised. The doctor who came to their hotel room preferred to address Uffi (Ville's Dad) rather than her and the event has a certain ring of comedy though it must have been horrible at the time!

For Anton this is the street of the old-fashioned tram, with a bell that chimes its whole journey to shift people from its path. It is also the street that leads to the Tünel funiculer, that takes us down to the delights of Karaköy. It is also so busy that I prefer him sat in his pushchair so I can at least avoid him being picked up and petted, or carried across the street for a picture, so my photographs of him here are few. Yesterday I spotted these concrete structures that are being buried under the street to hold cables, and decided to get some pictures before they disappear from view. They provided a perfect hideout from which Anton could watch the street. He had a great time.

İstiklal Caddesi

İstiklal Caddesi

İstiklal Caddesi

İstiklal Caddesi


İstiklal Caddesi

İstiklal Caddesi

İstiklal Caddesi

İstiklal Caddesi

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8 thoughts on “Things to Do with Kids in Istanbul: Istiklal Street

  1. Julia, I love love love your posts and all the fabulous things you write about. It's like I'm there with you.

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  2. Wow, looking at the reactions of the pedestrians, it's like they never see children playing around like that?? My girls would be hiding in those concrete structures in a flash!

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  3. Belinda your comment cheered me up so much. I noticed it while I was battling to clean the house with a little teether no wanting to be put down and wishing my Mum wasn't so very far away! Thank you so so much.

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  4. Cathy, I know!! I looked at the pictures after your comment and realised that a passerby is staring in nearly every one. I have made such an effort not to change my parenting because things are done so differently here. My kids are always the only ones doing this kind of stuff so there is always a huge crowd ready to tell me I am irresponsible. I am happy your kids would have done the same. Part of doing this project was to keep reminding myself what is parenting in more familiar parts of the world looks like.

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  5. What an awesome series pf photos! I love how you have captured his curiosity and sense of adventure. My favorite is the 3rd from the bottom...I like how he is peeking out. You are a WONDERFUL mom to stick to what you know is best despite how the culture there views. Takes much courage and strength. You should be very proud.

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  6. My kids would totally be doing the same too! Keep going Julia x

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  7. Thank you Faith and Jenn xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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  8. This is such a great series, Julia! The photos are really well done and I enjoyed reading your writing, and getting a taste of another culture.

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