18 Aralık 2013 Çarşamba

Easy to Pass By

We live our lives on such a full speed that we sometimes need to stop, breath and look around a little. This speed isn’t natural to us; we are just trying to catch up to the speed of the modern city life.

Either way we should create little opportunities for ourselves, little escapes if you will, so we can collect human experiences and memories- not only earthly possessions.

To do so is easy. For instance an escape into the periodic exhibitions of Maksem in our most popular meeting point: Taksim.


Small enough to be fully seen in an half hour, the building that hosts today’s Maksem was built in 1731 and it was used as a water storage tank.

As Istanbul Municipality holds periodic exhibitions in the building we were able to catch the shows of Anna Tzarev’s Song of Spring and Milijada Barada’s Let the Soul Rule the Secret. You can check the event schedule here (in Turkish).

What looks like a keg, which would be on your right when you first enter the building, is actually a piece of  the piping that used to distribute water to Beyoğlu, Pera and Kasımpaşa.

Since you are already in Beyoğlu, why not visit the Historic Beyoğlu Post Office? Situated right across Galatasaray High School, the post office these days is holding an extended exhibition on the history of Galatasary Sports Club.

Built in 1875 for Theodore Sıvacıyan as a residence, the building was bought later in 1907 by Post and Telegram Minister Hüseyin Hasip Pasha and it’s first floor was used as Beyoğlu Post and Telegram Management Office.

Now named Galatasaray University Culture and Art Centre, the building was turned into a museum by the initiative of the University.

On to a magnificent birdhouse. If you are looking to spend a pleasurable day at Rumeli Fortress, Tevfik Fikret’s House the Aşiyan Museum cannot be missed. Besides his poems and his books, when you discover that he designed the house itself alongside being a painter you will realize that Fikret was more than an artist, and was perhaps a genius.

In a way it is a benefit that we were not allowed to take pictures inside the museum: this way you have to go and explore it yourselves! The entrance of the house facing this breathtaking view… And the window of Socrates (no explanations here, visit the museum to be astounded)…

When visiting the museum you can get either a short or long tour audio guide. Alongside personal items, you can find pieces that used to belong to famous Turkish writers like Poet Nigar and Recaizade Ekrem. Renovated and reopened in 2011, this museum is both esthetically pleasing and interesting.

We recommend that you visit the museum that opens at 9 AM on earlier hours: students groups are usually scheduled to make visits in the afternoons- while it is inspiring to see young minds be shaped by history and culture, it is not for you if you want a quite touring time. The museum is closed on Mondays and Thursdays.

You’ll listen while you are visiting: Tevfik Fikret, whose grave lays in the garden of Aşiyan, writes from decades ago:

The poor country gives, gives whatever it has,
Its body, its life, its hope, its dream
All its well-being, all its heart.
Swallow it up at once, don’t think about the sin or the deed…
Eat sirs eat, this pleasant meal is yours,
Eat until you are full, until you cough, until you burst!

You can visit all these spots for free.

Only a few weeks left to New Year’s, don’t forget to get yourself our your loved ones an Istanbul diary or another notebook from our collection. Let’s explore together and create different memories. You can get your diary by clicking here.

Take care of yourselves,
Tracer of Istanbul

22 Kasım 2013 Cuma

Once Upon A time

They say the only thing that will never change is change itself. Istanbul abides by that rule for centuries. As some buildings and monuments manage to survive onto modern times, most disappear through out the ages- and mostly with our help.

A monument that made it to our century and is considered to be the one of the most important landmarks of Istanbul: Galata Tower.

However this entry is not about Galata Tower (it’s time to be mentioned will come).

In this entry I will tell you about where I am viewing Galata Tower. This is Alfred Heilbronn Botanical Garden. Named after a prominent professor of the University at the time; the botanical gardens were founded in 1935 under Istanbul University’s Science Faculty.

Neighboring the Office of Istanbul Mufti, and close to Suleymaniye Mosque in Fatih, the garden showcases a collection of thousands of species of plants. When walking around in this garden’s 6 greenhouses and 23 fountains, you will feel yourself to be dazzled with magnificent smells.

If you have the time this is the perfect place to sit down and read a book or do some homework - that is if you can stop staring at the breathtaking view.

While perhaps the garden’s prime time has been passed due to the less budget allowances and less emoloyees; since its hand over to the Office of the Mufti; we hope to see this garden survive into the future.  You can contact Istanbul University to visit the garden. But keep in ind that it's closed on weekends.

If you have been able to follow the Biennial events, then you know that you had the chance to visit Karakoy Greek Elementary School, which now rarely and only opens its doors to these kinds of events.

Built in 1885, the school stood without damage against many earthquakes that troubled Istanbul. Once educating over 200 children under its roof, the school closed down and opened a few times  due to lack of students and financial support. Sadly shut down its doors as an educational institution in 2007 for the last time.

However, you can still see the beautiful interior of this school if you visit the premises when they are hosting an event.

Make sure you climb up to the terrace and take in the spectacular view. This is also a great spot to look for another building that Istanbulites cannot notice and walk by: the nearby Galata Surp Krikor Lusavoric Armenian Church. How magnificent isn't it?

Our last topic is an exhibition. You can now see famous painter and sculptor Miro’s works in Tophane-i Amire Building until 19th January. This is also a great opportunity to explore the building itself.

This is all for now. By the way you can click here to get your own Istanbul Diary now.

Write down, draw, and document everything you see like you breath: so our children can always know what once was there.

Take care of yourselves,
Tracer of Istanbul

11 Kasım 2013 Pazartesi

Searching for Theodossius

Theodosius I and II, was the emperors of the Roman Empire whom left their mark in Istanbul. In this engraving on the Theodosius Obelisk in Sultanahmet, the 1st Emperor is portrayed as holding a crown, which symbolizes victory.

The Marmaray Tunnel is finally opened and the excavations that took to complete the project earthed new historical findings in the city.

 As some of you know, the history of Istanbul dates back to 8000 BC wtih these new discoveries. The findings include numerous shipwrecks and the most amount of fossilized footprints in a crowd that has been discovered. The amount of archeological artifacts found during the excavations are stated to be thousands of cases.

When we made our way to Yenikapi to check out the newest discoveries, we were welcomed by the Theodosius Harbor which was erected by the order of the Emperor. We hope to see all these artifacts to find a safe home in a new museum.

For those who are interested in these type of findings, the Istanbul Archeology Museum is holding the "Stories from the Hidden Harbor" exhibit till the 25th of December. As you are visiting the exhibition you will run into an old lady from Constantinople (Istanbul :) that was found during the excavations. You can find the details to the exhibition here.

Take your time when you are walking around the streets of Istanbul. You may suddenly come across an old door, and that door may surprise you a lot.

And that is exactly how we came acroos this door. Hypnotized by the beauty of it, we were only able to sneak a peek inside, since the door itself was bolted shut.

Behold the Serefiye or the Theodosius Cistern. Built during the reign of Theodosius II, this fairly large cistern resides on Binbirdirek Neighbourhood's Piyer Loti Avenue in Fatih. Unfortunatelly, all you can do right now is sneak a peek like we did since the cistern is under renovation to be turned into a museum just like Yerebatan Cistern.

Our last news are for the fans of silent movies and Hitchcock admirers. You can watch nine silent Hitchcock movies between the 7th and 17th of November. Details here.

In this post, we traced down two Roman Emperor's legacies within the city that survived hundreds of years... Go out on the streets and trace down what you find interesting, like we do. Don't forget to write them down and leave your trace for the future.

You can get your own Istanbul Diary and other kinds of diaries and notebooks by clicking here.

Take care of yourselves,
Tracer of Istanbul

24 Ekim 2013 Perşembe

Trees Lead the Way

How beautiful trees are, especially in this season, the colours take your breath away. And if you get a mellow breeze to move those leaves, then they’re a sight to see…

There are so many spots to go on an enjoyable walk to watch the leaves turn in Istanbul.

You don’t even have to travel far away to do so.

Have you ever noticed the Japanese Garden in Baltalimani?

The garden, which you can walk through with taking just a little break from your daily routines, is a 30th anniversary gift from the Shimonoseki City in Japan, which has been Istanbul’s sister city since 1972.

While you are taking in the beauty of this garden you can learn about Shimonoseki and Japan.

If you wish to travel further away from the city center, before making your way to the Belgrad Forest- which is the lungs of our city- you can take the first left before the last traffic lights and find your way to the Atatürk Arboretum.

The arboretum was opened in 1949, and it greets its visitors with a marvelous diversity of trees and plants. The arboretum also contains Turkey’s first nursery garden, which was founded in 1912 and sent the first trees to the famous Ankara Gazi Osman Farm.

You can spend hours in this spot, relaxing and taking
in the beauty either by yourself or with loved ones.

Don’t forget to taste the fresh and ice cold fountain water that comes from a natural source within the arboretum. 

And now, a very old Istanbulite: This plane tree, that is assumed to be 400 to 600 years old, has grown so much to the point it’s branches resemble an octopus, hence its nickname- the Octopus Plane Tree.

The notorious tree resides on the Bilezikci Farm Property and though it still stands tall, it needs the care and protection from us humans.

 Beautiful and unoccupied farmhouses also reside on the property.

Unfortunately, the tree and the farmhouses are not open to general public since the Farm and its 800 hectares land belongs to the Istanbul University’s Faculty of Forestry, and can only be visited with special permissions.

In hopes of always following trees, which lead us to serenity, calmness and happiness…

Until next time,
Tracer of Istanbul

4 Ekim 2013 Cuma

Fall in Istanbul

The colds have suddenly arrived in Istanbul. It sure gets chilly in the city now. However, there are many places to be seen, secrets to be discovered, and many events to be visited. For instance, you can catch the last few days of Filmekimi. For details click here.

Another great event is the Biennial. Exhibitions that address the theme "Mom, am I a barbarian?" take place in many different venues and spaces throughout the city. You can click here for more information.

No, the rain is not an excuse to stay in. What are your umbrellas, rain boots, raincoats for? Go on; go out on to the streets of Istanbul...

For instance, you can go visit Kalliopi Lemos' exhibiton which is a parallel event to the Biennal. The exhibitiontakes place in Yoakimion Greek High School for Girls that was founded in 1879 but shut down in the late 1980's. The school stands as it was, and takes the visitors to an Istanbul from a previous era.

You can find more information about visiting this event by clicking here, but beware: the visiting hours on the website are incorrect, the event is open for visitation at 11 am.

Lemos'exibition will end on November 10th. Below a little mark of us on the blackboard.

Another event that shouldn't be missed is the Second Hand Book Sellers Festival. It's quite possible to lose yourself with the smell of old books. The event takes place in Tepebasi and you can find old magazines, pictures, postcards and vinyl records as well as books there.

Finally, the last place we want to mention is hidden away...

When in Belgrad Forest, if you take the horse touring route behind the Falih Rıfkı Atay Recreation Space's diner, and follow the path about 300 meters, you'll run into these ruins.

When Suleiman the Magnificent was returning from his campaign to Serbia, his army brought along slaves and settled them in the forest. The settlement stood there until mid 1800s when they got resettled in different locations, since the settlement polluted the water sources within the forest. This building is said to be the Church of Saint Georges.

Don't just look at these pictures; go and see these places and events yourself. And don't forget to take your Istanbul Diary to write down your experiances.

Until next time,

Tracer of Istanbul

6 Eylül 2013 Cuma

As The Storks Are Leaving

Old timers used to say August consisted of 15 days of summer, and 15 days of winter. Indeed, while it's still (quite) hot during the day, we are starting to get a little chilly in the evenings.

Migrotary birds must have noticed this, since they are slowly starting to make their way to warmer lands.

But still, Istanbul is beautiful in all seasons.

So, don't lock yourselves away indoors in attempts to avoid the upcoming colds and the rains; keep on exploring.

You will find an interesting detail that will catch your eye in every Istanbul street. Take your camera, and if you don't like solitude, the company of someone you enjoy; with you. Create yourselves memories for the future, and of course - write them down.

As I say goodbye, here's a song about Istanbul that I quite like.

Peyk - Istanbul

Take care of yourselves,
The Istanbul Tracer

16 Mayıs 2013 Perşembe

Hello Istanbul

Hello to all...

And I say a special hello to Istanbul through you.

In 2014, I will try to share all that is unknown, forgotten, and unnoticed about Istanbul alongside the popular and the apparent; which you will be able to follow through the QR codes in your Istanbul Diary. I invite you to explore Istanbul yourself -with or without the help of these pages.

Life goes fast and every day we leave more and more behind us... Don't forget to write down your feelings, memories, experiences, and as such, your life in your diary. Remember, what stays on the paper stays in the mind.

In hopes of seeing you in the streets of Istanbul,

The Istanbul Tracer