When I went to photograph my friend's new baby earlier in the week she told me that part of the name of our street means moat, so it was once part of the system of walls and water that protected this historic hill. We certainly feel as if we live in a castle. For the first time in my life I have a (working!) dishwasher, a bath, a tumble-dryer and a home I could throw a party in. There is also the non-stop party that goes on outside our 'palace' because this is perhaps the most free and energetic part of town (though so mixed is this area that at the other end of our street, where shoe-shiners congregate by the mosque, it is not possible to buy alcohol). We are all getting used to new characters and sounds:  pigeons cooing, a cruise ship departing or red-jumper man having an argument with the pavement. We are learning the spots where drunks and dogs sleep, where the most delicious things can be eaten, where to escape the crowds.

There is though a troubling aspect to feeling like kings of our castle and that is that this neighbourhood, once glorious but recently rife with drugs and prostitution, is so newly improved that the mix of fortune here is extreme. Wealthy ex-pats live next to slums. A building can be dire at ground level while the inhabitants at the top have commissioned architects to make modern changes, whilst preserving frescoes and marble. To live a life that would be considered normal in the UK or Finland places us firmly amongst the 'haves' in a city that contains far, far too many 'have-nots'. We will have to get used to living with the dangers that such inequalities bring whilst remaining angry and sorrowful about the unacceptable conditions in which so many we share these streets with live.

Galata has always been the district of the 'other': Greek, Italian, Armenian, French, Jew, Catholic. I have a slight shame that it is the first place I have felt really comfortable since I got to Turkey, that my plans to integrate never came to much. But oh how I love it here. And I promise, I really do, that we will finally, five years since I arrived in Turkey, have a party!

A few notes about the pictures: I took a picture of Galata Tower from our apartment and then the other way round. The tourist shops Anton is looking at are on the street that begins at the corner of ours (Galip Dede). The graffiti child is just near our building. I photographed the construction of the new metro bridge from Eminönü. The writing on the wall says 'whoever throws rubbish here is without honour'. I took the picture across the Golden Horn from us in an area where beautiful old houses are now crumbling slums. The rather theatrical ducks were also taken there while people were leaning out of the windows to laugh at their posing. A really happy moment. From our apartment we watch cruise ships come and go, and the picture of Anton photographing me is taken in Karaköy, where they dock. One of the kids favourite things to do is eat fried hamsi (anchovies) or fish sandwiches at Karaköy fish market, where you can see Anton dawdling, eating hazelnuts he has just bought from a street vendor.

New baby.

Baby Boy

Galata Tower from our apartment.

Our apartment from Galata Tower.

Galata Tower on a tourist shop painting.

Anton and Marilyn.

Graffiti boy.

Neve being welcomed into an Istiklal Street scarf shop.

Beautiful old floors.



View from the Botanical Gardens.

Construction of the new metro bridge across the Golden Horn.

"Whoever throws rubbish here is without honour."

Duck Theatre.

The photographer.

Saturday, Karaköy.

Fish sandwiches from Karaköy Market.

Eating hazelnuts while dawdling through Karaköy fish market.

Washing lines, Eminönü.

Neve checking out her belly-button in the company of a stray dog.

Ruskin and Neve in Galata.

Ruskin, Istanbul.

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9 thoughts on “Castle

  1. Anonymous12:50

    What a diverse place to live Julia. I can really get a feel for the place from your picture. you have such a gift for capturing details and story telling. I love each and everyone of these.

  2. I JUST WANT TO BE THERE!!!!! I love love your ducks!!

  3. Kylie: Thank you so much. Yes, diverse is the word!

    Hellen: If only!! But it's only weeks to go! Warn Oskar that he is likely to have a camera shoved in his beautiful face for the entire visit! I have a list of a thousand things to show you :-)

  4. Just gorgeous! Cannot believe some of the views. I can't imagine living in such a large city, so different from Alaska! Your photos are just so clear and beautiful, but I think you get a little help from the subjects being so cute too!

  5. Love your castle! You are a wonderful queen. :-)

    So many photographers remove all shadows, but I love how you embrace them.

  6. I love love your children... many years ago I spent time in Istanbul with the love of my life (he was Turkish, living in Switzerland) so I devoured this post. One day I want to revisit this city.... thank you for sharing.

  7. I second what Leanne said - I LOVE the way you use shadows in your work. Stunning.
    And you never fail to leave me pining for Istanbul. Right about now I want to sit in the family section of a busy Beyolu restaurant and eat Iskender kebab. :)
    Love your picture of the Galata tower and it being featured again in the tourist painting. Cleverness.

  8. Wow!! Again, so many awesome shots. Highlights for me this week are the ducks, Anton in the bathtub, Anton taking your picture and Anton eating the nuts. Another favorite is the one of your family sitting outdoors at the table. It is so sweet that you caught Neve turning around to look for you.

  9. Yay for some more lovely work Julia.

    Is it sad that I was excited that we have Anton's socks and exactly that pushchair too?

    What I always notice is how Ruskin always looks so comfortable in his own skin. Lots of 16 year old boys would seem awkward or shy away, but he never seems like that and always looks at complete ease with the little ones too.

    How blessed you are to have your little brood.



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