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This post is about a 13,8 walk in Istanbul. I meet a man who has some answers, then I cross the Yedikule Gate.

The other day I received an email from a reader remarking how seldom I’ve been using the word “awesome” to describe things lately. It’s true. My guess is that the Pandemic, my health concerns, and maybe a few other things might have taken their toll. I don’t know about you, but I am generally not as happy as I remember I once was.

But there are still moments of awesomeness. One of them happened today. Or maybe not just one.


First I met a knowledgeable man. I sat down across from him in a breakfast restaurant. We started talking, and it turned out that he was a scholar who specialized in migration. He had intimate knowledge of different migrant communities.

I bombarded him with questions. I had seen a lot of people presumably from African countries in this part of Istanbul. Sometimes it had seemed as though every fifth or sixth person on my way was black. Where were they from?

My new friend had an answer: in this part of town there were a lot of Congolese, he told me. There were other areas where immigrants from Senegal lived. And from Nigeria. They each formed their own little communities. Most of them were here illegally, most of them did hard manual labor, and their total number was estimated to be around 300,000.


I learned many things during my breakfast. Turkey was a place where migration happened in several different forms: some people migrated into Turkey while others migrated out. There were those who for whom the country was just a stop on their way through, and then there were those who migrated within it.

Istanbul was a colossus of 15 million now. It hadn’t always been that way.

city walls

The next moment of awesomeness happened when I reached the old city wall at the Yedikule Gate. It was actually part of the Yedikule Fortress, but I didn’t go in. It wasn’t necessary.

I was blown away by the sheer grandeur of the moment anyway. This was one of the walls that the Roman Emperors had built. It had rendered Constantinople virtually unconquerable for many centuries, and here I was on top of it.

I made happy sounds that went like “tee-hee”. Lots of teehees.

luxury stan

At night I did something I’d never done before. I stayed in a five-star hotel. It was called Ramada, and it offered a discount. I got a room with a view and a couch, and the Caboose shared the basement with a bunch of discarded furniture.



Crowded streets of Fatih:

crowded streets of fatih

Public restroom with cats:

public restroom with cats

I mean, caaaaats:

Turkish flags and cats


Gravestones in Fatih


Church in Fatih

This might have once been a church as well?

former part of a church?

This gentleman was trying to tell the cat to look at the camera, and it worked:

man and cat in Fatih

What an epically weird house:

weird house in Fatih

When you cross the Yedikule Gate, a flag greets you (of course):

Yedikule Gate

The city wall at Yedikule Gate:

city wall at Yedikule Gate

Can anyone tell me what this inscription means?

inscription at Yedikule Gate

View out of the old city wall:

view out of the city wall at Yedikule Gate

Another kind of wall:

man with shadow on green wall

Someone had been feeding these dogs large amounts of meat. The birds were happy, too:

dogs feasting in Fatih

The Yedikule Fortress with Kadฤฑkรถy in the background:

Yedikule Fortress with Kadฤฑkรถy in the background

Ships waiting for their turn to enter the Bosphorus:

Ships waiting for their turn to enter the Bosphorus

The owners of these condos now have a mosque right next to them, ready to bombard them with the prayer call five times a day:

new mosque in front of modern apartment blocks

Traditional house in Zeytinburnu:

Traditional house in Zeytinburnu

Zeytinburnu shopping street:

Zeytinburnu shopping street

The Caboose in the bowels of the Ramada:

Caboose in the Ramada basement

The view:

view from the Ramada hotel

  • Mani

    Hi Chris,

    I think the inscription is Persian. Has anyone translated it for you? If I’m right about it being Persian, I can get it translated for you.



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