The Guardian’s travel section introduces us to Istanbul via the musings of Nobel Prize-winning author Orhan Pamuk in his Istanbul: Memories and the City, a memoir of the ’50s and ’60s:
“To savour Istanbul’s back streets, to appreciate the vines and trees that endow its ruins with accidental grace, you must, first and foremost, be a stranger to them.”
The Guardian‘s writer, Ben Quinn, continues:
Like an eastern cousin to the old quarter of Lisbon, the winding, steep streets are too narrow for vehicles in many parts, while the only sound to accompany your footsteps during a stroll may be that of the call to prayer.
On a bright day, the sun’s rays bounce off sandstone-coloured walls and occasionally, you’ll pass by a decaying three-floored Ottoman-style home, its wood-planked walls looming precariously over the street, or the open shutters of a teahouse with a group of old men sipping cups of Cay inside.
He notes the Chora Church:
Built by Constantine the Great nearly 1,600 years ago, its ornate interior of Christian mosaics depicting the lives of Christ and Mary have largely stood the test of time. Inside, the temperature sharply falls and whispering visitors shuffle around its spartan floorspace, eyes drawn upwards towards 50 mosaic panels spread around arching ceilings. Highlights inside a small side church include a harrowing fresco of Christ attempting to pull Adam and Eve from their tombs after apparently forcing open the gates of hell with his feet.