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Sultanahmet

Istanbul Under the Snow (Walking Around Sultanahmet)

Istanbul (Turkey). After the landscape of Istanbul from Hagia Sophia posted some days ago, here there is “just another” photograph taken the same – unique – day during a nice walk under the snow around the garden in Sultanahmet.

One of the things that impresses me much – every time it snows in Istanbul – is the sound of the city, which is normally noisy due to its intense traffic. Believe it or not, the snow therefore does not change only the landscape: Sultanahmet becomes somehow quite, silent, muffled.

I’m still developing some photos of Istanbul covered by snow: stay with me!

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Photographing Galata from Eminonu

Istanbul (Turkey). This is one of my favorite places in Istanbul, and I could stay here for many hours watching and photographing the city around me. This photo has been taken at Eminonu, just at the end of the Galata Bridge (or at the beginning, approaching it from the old city of Sultanahmet) and where – in a ray of few meters – there are so many things to see and to do!

Take a map, pin this place (here you are the exact coordinates: 41°01’05.6″N 28°58’15.7″E) and follow my virtual tour: at south-east, there’s the “Yeni Cami” (or New Mosque, definitely one of my favorite one); proceeding clockwise, there’s the “Misir Carsi” (literally, the translation is “Egyptian Market”, but it’s mostly known as “Spice Market” – although spices are not so good anymore in my opinion); just on the top of the hill, it’s possible to admire the stunning Suleymaniye Camii (Mosque of Suleymaniye) dominating large part of the city; continuing to move, at my left there’s the most popular (and commercial, though) place in town to have a typical “balik ekmek” (in English, fish burger); few meters after, there’s another jewel, the Rustem Pasha Mosque; and – finally, in front of my eyes – there’s this nice view of the Golden Horn (Haliç) and Galata, with its unmistakable tower.

And I could not find a better moment to capture this image: it was at the beginning of the year (probably the 1st or the 2nd of January 2016), it was cold, snowy and cloudy. Being at mid-afternoon of a day without the sun, there were very few colors: but some rays of light – the last ones of the day – suddenly illuminated the district of Galata, its tower, its roofs covered with snow, and made more “gentle” the contrast between the old traditional houses against the modern buildings. All around my viewfinder, seagulls were flying begging fishermen on the bridge for some fresh fish.

These are the moments that confirm – as if it were necessary – my deep love for Istanbul.

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Landscape of Istanbul Under the Snow

Istanbul (Turkey). It’s snowing again over Istanbul. After a magic white New Year’s Eve, another snowstorm is currently hitting the north-west of the country, causing some problems to the circulation, including ferries and airplanes (Turkish Airlines is cancelling several flights, internal and domestic).

Istanbul covered with a white layer is amazing: I know it’s pretty “normal”, and that it snows average once or twice per year, but still this event captures completely my attention and shows to my eyes a completely different city. Somehow, I have the feeling that the snow “cleans” everything and makes the city landscape more “uniform”, more regular, normalizing its irregularities and exalting the old city’s skyline with mosques and minarets.

I took this photo from the SALT Galata in Karakoy at the beginning of this year: at the top floor there’s a window with this amazing landscape. I guess it’s pretty much the same right now…

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Photoshooting On The Asian Side of the Bosphorus

Istanbul (Turkey). In these days I cannot be very active here on my photoblog. This is for two reasons: the first one, because I’m quite under pressure with my regular working activities – no problem, I can deal with them. The second one, which had pros and cons, is because I had to work on some old photos of Istanbul for a calendar.

More or less every year, around this period, I receive some requests of photos for calendars: I like the idea that my photos can be used for this purpose, and when I select them I try to think what users will like to watch for an entire month without getting bored. But beyond the simple selection, this research is also an useful activity that forces me to go through my photo stock, and it’s great when – sometimes – old photos pop up from the group and are flagged as “to be reconsidered”.

This one, for example, has been taken more or less one year ago. It will not be used for any calendar, but I liked it so much that I was even wondering why I did not post it here earlier. Never mind, isn’t it one of the purpose of Photographing Around Me? So, here we are!

I perfectly remember when I took this image: it was a Sunday afternoon, it was fresh, the typical weather of November when winds start blowing from the sea pushing down the temperatures and cleaning the air; the sunset behind the skyline of Sultanahmet was so nice that I could not resist to go to Uskudar and capture it – as I did many times before, always with the same enthusiasm. That day I decided to bring with me only one lens, the Nikon 105 mm DC, still one of my favorite one. Several people where there with phones and cameras, capturing that sunset like me. But my attention was all for this young lady photographed by her boyfriend. I liked the situation: it was not the usual landscape of the Kiz Kulesi (the popular Maiden Tower) with Sultanahmet in the background. This time I perceived something of warm, of familiar, somehow of “intimately human” in it: the shy gaze of the lady, the position of her hands, and the fact that she’s (intentionally) blurred gave something more to the landscape…

Everyone can judge: it’s not the first time that one of my favorite photos does not meet the expectations of my followers. But for me, as said, this is the photo that literally “popped up” from my database, and I’m happy now to post it here.

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Istanbul Under the Snow (Welcome to My World)

Istanbul (Turkey). This end of 2015 has been magic for those who were in Istanbul! Since December 30th, a generous snowfall has been covering the city with a thick white layer, changing completely the landscape – and not only, considering that even the “city’s sound” is different. I was walking around Istanbul with some friends and of course my camera, and the last day of the year we took the advantage of not too many people around visiting Sultanahmet to head – in my case one more time – to one of my favorite places ever: Hagia Sophia.

As written in one of my previous posts, there is a small window at the first floor of this wonderful Church Mosque Museum: from there, the view is breathtaking because it’s possible to admire both the domes of Hagia Sophia and those of the Blue Mosque with its minarets; such a perfect postcard of Istanbul! But this time was different: everything was so incredibly white, magic, poetic, muffled. It is impossible to described this situation with words, I wish I could do it with this image.

And for photography geeks, this photo made me also reach the conclusion that “my world” is more and more at 28 mm… What does it mean? Since July, I’m travelling and using almost always my Leica Q camera, with a fantastic 28 mm Summilux lens. There’s nothing to do: this is MY LENS, this is my focal distance, this is the perfect extension and the ideal angle of my eyes. So, like it or not, if you wanna follow me, you must get prepared to see more and more the world – my world – at 28 mm! Oh yes, welcome to my world!

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Thinking About My Beloved Istanbul

Istanbul (Turkey). It was a sad day, today. A kind of “day after” feeling is all over Istanbul, as well as pervades medias and social networks, which are populated of hastags such as #PrayForIstabul or #JeSuisIstanbul (why in French, by the way?). However, the city slowly tries to find its new equilibrium, but probably nothing will be the same anymore (or at least for a long time).

The word “violence” comes from from Latin “violentia”, which is the combination of the two words “vis” (strength) and “-ulentus”, adjective-forming suffix meaning “abounding in, full of”. And this is what is hurting me, and I guess million of people like me, from citizens to expats to just Istanbul lovers: the idea that Istanbul, and more specifically Sultanahmet, has been targeted for a violence or, in this case, has been the place chosen to demonstrate an excess of strength.

By who? This is not a blog about geopolitics: it does not matter “by who” – not here at least. As everybody, I’m following news to understand more and, of course, I hope that the all those behind this terrorist attack will pay for their responsibilities. However, what counts is that what happened yesterday – 12th of January, 2016 – is really shocking. And not because “I was there many times” or “it could have happened to me”. No, this honestly does not make sense, at all. But because, hurting Istanbul – and more specifically its heart, Sultanahmet – meant hurting a city that was founded in 660 B.C., which since its foundation has been teaching to the entire world what is “being an eternal bridge between continents, cultures and religions”; hurting Istanbul is hurting all of us – violently.

Napoleon once said: “If the world was only one country, Istanbul would be its capital!”. This is not the world I want: I hope from here now – from Istanbul today – we can start changing the world and make of it a better place for everybody.

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Landscape from the Golden Horn (Haliç) Metro Station in Istanbul

Istanbul (Turkey). Although its position – which is not very efficient, being in the middle of the bridge crossing the Golden Horn – the Haliç Metro Station is an amazing observatory for capturing great photos of the Sultanahmet skyline.

The bridge crosses the Haliç fiord between the Galata Bridge and the Ataturk Bridge, just in correspondence of the Suleymaniye Mosque (here in the background). The metro line is the one going between Yenikapi and Taksim (proceeding to Levent and Haciosman).

My favorite moment of course is at sunset, when the sun goes down toward Eyup and the beginning of the Golden Horn: the water surface looks like covered with a layer of gold, and the Sulymaniye Mosque gets colored first with orange tones, and then becomes pinkish.

When the Haliç Bridge was built, there was a tough debate among politics, experts and citizens, mainly because its shape (it is a cable-stayed bridge) and its dimensions were compromising the landscape of Sultanahmet historical area, which is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The risk was in fact the possible consequent cancellation from the UNESCO list, a big shame for such an important place. It was the typical and tough trade off for cities – like Istanbul – between the preservation of the cultural imprinting and the efficiency required by the urban development. As far as I know, the situation is now stable and – according to UNESCO website – Sultanahmet is not at risk of cancellation.

However, it must be said that in the last years, Istanbul improved significantly its public transportation networks. The city is huge, and it is not easy to move from a point to another given the traffic at every time of the day and the night. The metro is expanding its lines and stations, is clean and efficient. And most important, is safe.

So, for those who are going to visit Istanbul, I recommend to include a walk on this bridge in the “to-do” list, bringing a sturdy tripod to mount the camera after the sunset.

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