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x0x Galata Bridge

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  • Turkish Radio Hour
    [See more at: http://www.ibb.gov.tr/istanbuleng/25005/2500501/blackwhite/14.htm http://andrew.hartman.tripod.com/info/sas8313a.htm
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 28, 2004
      [See more at:
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      x0x Galata Bridge

      By Lemi Ozgen

      Galata Bridge is a bustling kaleidoscope with a view of many
      places evocative of Istanbul's long history. Topkapi Palace conjures
      up a vision of janissaries with magnificent moustaches about to set
      out on campaign against Vienna; the city walls that of the Byzantine
      emperor Justinian returning from fiercely fought battles in North
      Africa. Looking at the old city you imagine the poet Orhan Veli
      trudging downhill to Cibali to buy the salt and bread that he had

      In Istanbul one small step or a slight turn carry you from one era to

      From looking at the lavender blue of the Marmara Sea, you find
      yourself gazing at pink Judas tree blossom. As you sorrow over the
      Byzantine princes who were blinded and exiled to the Istanbul Islands,
      you are cheered up by the sight of gypsy dancers led by Cihanyandi
      Saliha of Dolapdere.

      This is a city which whirls your mind and spirit here and there like
      the Ayandon storm which swept away the roofs of old houses in Balat
      one misty November evening.


      We are in the centre of Galata Bridge, the sea stretching out on either
      side. It must be admitted that the old bridge where a fire broke out
      suddenly one night 10 years ago had far more charm. After leaning on the
      railings of that bridge watching the sea, the gulls and the fish, you
      could descend to the level of the pontoons to eat in the down-at-heel
      restaurants. Above, cars rumbled across the bridge, rattling the glasses,
      and the waves splashing against the pontoons shook the tables, while the
      evening sun stained Istanbul with red light, and the diners reminisced
      about old loves. Gulls fly over the bridge, and we remember Orhan Veli's
      poem: 'I stand on the bridge watching you all with delight. / Some of you
      pull on your oars, backwatering, / Some of you gather mussels from the
      pontoons, / Some of you steer barges...' At Karakoy quay next to the
      bridge, the ferryboats come and go. Smells of salt, seaweed, perfume and
      separation waft on the air.


      Facing the bridge is Topkapi Palace on its high headland. The place
      where so many unfortunate princes, sultans, concubines and ministers
      fell victim to intrigues and rebellions.

      In the first court at Topkapi stands the Byzantine Church of St
      Eirene, and of the scores of beautiful pavilions that graced the vast
      palace gardens, a few remain today.

      Suddenly a serene blue light strikes our faces. Our eyes fall on
      Sultanahmet Mosque, also known as the Blue Mosque, whose architect Mehmet
      Aga was also a musician and mother-of-pearl craftsman. The interior is
      faced with 21,043 tiles patterned in cobalt and turquoise specially made
      in Iznik.

      From the palace headland the Column of the Goths can be seen, and behind
      it the green expanse of Gulhane Park, among whose trees is a lonely walnut
      that no one notices.


      The district north of the bridge was a colony of Italian merchants
      surrounded by its own great walls. Here stands the Galata Tower, built by
      the Genoese 650 years ago. At one time it was used as an observatory, and
      then for years as the fire tower. When the watchmen caught sight of
      flames, they lit green and red lamps to alert the firemen and spread the
      news of the fire around the city. It was from the top of this tower, 350
      years ago, that Hezarfen Ahmed Celebi launched himself into the air on
      artificial wings tied to his body, and flew right across the Bosphorus to
      Uskudar, where he landed safely after his adventure.


      Behind Topkapi Palace stands Haghia Sophia, like a milestone in history.

      Istanbul's most ancient monument, it was built by Isidorus of Miletus and
      Anthemius of Tralles.

      Its many coloured marbles appear in our kaleidoscope; the
      green and black of Ephesus, the pale green of Euboea, the red and
      white of Caria, and pink veined of Siga. Then you are dazzled by the
      mosaics in gold, oleander pink and sea blue.


      Crisscrossing the water in every direction are ferryboats, carrying
      people to and from work, on shopping expeditions, to school, and on

      The first steam ferries began to ply these waters in the
      19th century, and before that graceful caiques carried passengers and
      goods across the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn.


      Let us turn our kaleidoscope again to look at the Bosphorus Bridge
      suspended far above the water like a necklace.

      At one foot is the lively Ortakoy with its restaurants, caf├ęs and art
      galleries, and at the other the dreamy old-fashioned district of
      Beylerbeyi. By this bridge it takes just five minutes to cross from one
      continent to another, watching the sparkling water below, and the wooded
      hills above Kavacik and Rumeli Hisar further up the strait.

      Time becomes distorted, and past autumns come to mind. The melancholy
      strains of a ney rise from Asiyan.


      At dusk the anglers on the bridge wind in their lines and put away their
      rods, recalling a life spent at the end of a fishing line, and memorable
      catches in the past.

      The steel blue evening falls over Sadabad as they depart home, leaving the
      bridge and the sea to the gulls.
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