Day six: Urban History Lesson


On day six we go to Kadir Has University in Fatih to meet up with a human rights lawyer. He explained to us the legal situation in Turkey regarding freedom of expression, right of demonstration in public space, Platzverbot... as well as his own perspective and experience on this topic. The interview takes longer than expected and it becomes more  an informal talk than an interview, since we are all relaxed and sharing our different ideas. Finally he even invites us to come back to Istanbul after we finish our research to present the results at his University.

”The question now is how much we will be tolerating them attacking us.”

After over three hours of talk, we have a small snack in the canteen before we travel to Mimar Sinan University, for an interview with an architect specialized in Urban Planning History. During this interview, he and his colleague explain to us – keeping it short of course – the development of the city of Istanbul since Byzantium, and later we get into detail on Beyoğlu. We end up talking about the nowadays structure of Taksim Square. After over three hours of really interesting input we have to end the discussion in order not to be late for out last appointment of the day. Before leaving his office, he gives us access to an uncountable number of historical plans, technical drawings and photos of Beyoğlu.

”They build no matter if the people will use it or not.”

During the boat trip from Karaköy to Kadıköy, the sun is setting as we slowly edge away from the old city on the European side and its beautiful skyline. The dark silhouettes of the minarets from the mosques start to fade in the fog while the sunset makes the Bosporus shine with gold tones.

Once we reach Kadıköy we meet with a Political Scientist and Artist, who takes us to a nice bar with a big garden that turns out to be a Culture Center. She tells us about her experiences as an artist and the effect of art in public space in the critical moment for the country.

”The art is going to flourish again when people have nothing more to lose.”

The day was long and stressful. We have a couple of beers in Kadıköy and get back to the apartment with a dolmuş, where we shortly fall asleep. We arrive to Taksim shortly before midnight, from where we walk home.

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