Just 50 meters in Galata

It’s always a big pleasure for me to walk around Galata area. Has always been so since my school days. Feeling the old harbours atmosphere in the narrow streets and alleys there, takes me back to those old times when Istanbul was a world on its own between East and West.

The other day me and my husband went to an extraordinary exhibition in Salt Galata. And after that we decided to walk a little bit in the area to see what was going on there. This is a fast changing part of Istanbul. Lots of old buildings are being restored and in very few years that area will be much different than what we see today. That’s for sure!

Yes, things are changing but luckily old friends were still there… Some of them, like Sen Piyer Han, were now closed to public, almost forgotten, with the excuse of being dangerous after being neglected for so long! The tired old door was firmly shut but the memory of French-Levantine patriot and poet Andre Chenier was still alive on the walls with the family’s coat of arms hanging there. He was guillotined for supposed crimes against the state when he was only 32, during the tumultuous period of terror after the French Revolution! Someone, as if wanted to joke with this decaying building, painted a very lively graffiti on the little hut, attached to old walls. The writing in the composition, caught my attention: same shit different day! I thought that was quite meaningful under the obvious circumstances…

We walked past the old building and came at the corner of the Camondo Stairs.

My father, used to talk about these curvy steps, saying that he would climb them everyday while walking to his school right behind them. At his time, there was High School of Commerce there… Today, Austrian High School. I walked down the steps, slowly, remembering first my father and than the family who presented this gift to our dear Istanbul at the end of 1800s. It is said that Abraham Salomon Camondo, a wealthy banker of Jewish origin, in order to reach his bank on Banks Street easily, made built these stairs of neo-baroque and art nouveau mixed style. Today, there is no one left of this great family but Istanbul still keeps their memory alive.

A walk in Galata, just 50 meters… Two great personality… This is Istanbul!

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