Taksim Square, January 20th

Posted on January 21st, 2012 by

Hello all,

Yesterday the group was treated to a tour of the heart of modern Istanbul- Taksim Square and Beyoglu Street. The day began with viewing Independence monument. Located in the very center of Taksim Square, Independence monument depicts the foundation of the Republic under the governance of Ataürk and symbolizes Turkey’s victory in the war of Independence. Since it’s unveiling in 1928, the monument has served, most famously, as the rallying point for many political demonstrations. Our next stop on the tour entailed a visit to Aya Triada. Aya Triada, built in 1800, is a most impressive Greek Orthodox Church located near the center of the Taksim district. Unfortunately photography is not allowed inside the church but the interior, decorated with richly detailed paintings and engravings depicting various religious icons, was truly incredible. Following Aya Triada we were led through the busy streets of Beyoglu. Beyolglu is comprised of various stores, restaurants, bars and disco-techs. The street as one would suspect is an incredibly popular area for tourists and Istanbul’s youth. During the walk about our tour guide was eager to point out the most frequented nightlife destinations and eateries. Unfortunately it was quite cold yesterday and many of us are fighting a flu-like virus. In fact Drew was too ill to partake in the day’s activities (on a positive note it seems he is making a recovery after visiting what sounds to be the Turkish version of Doctor House). Due to the cold and spreading virus however, mid-tour the group stopped at a local coffee shop/book store/music store. This gave the opportunity for the group to sample the best of Istanbul’s own local music and view the unfortunate influence of America’s pop culture. I personally was rather surprised to see the entire discography of T-Pain on display- I guess interest in listening to poor signing over a slightly catchy beat is universal?. The afternoon portion of our tour through Taksim had to be cut short due to the combination of the fore mentioned bad weather and illness. In the end the day provided as another exceptional display of Turkish culture. The clashing philosophies between eastern and western thought has been frequently evidenced throughout our trip. Yesterday however served perhaps as the greatest illustration of the juxtaposition between westernization and eastern practice in the Turkish culture. The Taksim district seems to epitomize the prevalence, which we have collectively witnessed, of western culture in Istanbul.

-Cole Peterson


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