This is Turkey – Istanbul Under Restoration

There’s a common saying in Turkey, ‘Burası Türkiye‘ which literally translates as, ‘This (place) is Turkey.’ Well, obviously this is Turkey but this saying means more than that. You’ll hear it a lot and it’s usually said with palms up and a shrug of the shoulders. If ever you’re wandering around somewhere and you see something odd – something you can’t think of a logical explanation for – and you ask the Turkish person you are with, ‘But why is this like this?’ The reply will usually be, ‘Because this is Turkey.’ I suppose it’s the same as the British saying of, ‘Ours is not to reason why.’

I’m writing about this because it’s popped up in my head a lot recently. Buildings appear on the new harbour in Fethiye and the day after, they’re gone. Why? Burası Türkiye, This is Turkey. Don’t worry about the ‘why’ and just accept that it happens. One day, one day, it’ll all be done.

Blue Mosque Istanbul

The Blue Mosque – Sultanahmet Camii

Nowhere is all this more evident at the moment than in Istanbul. Loads of stuff going on for the European Capital of Culture celebrations of course but what about the abundance of historical monuments; those the tourists flock to Istanbul to see. Well, a lot of work has been going on over the last few years to get them cleaned up for this year. Most of the main mosques and monuments have shiny, gleaming, metal work and the stone work has had a good old blast. Sultanahmet Camii (Blue Mosque) is looking particularly splendid on a sunny day (see above photo). As for some of the other mosques that make up the rest of the famous Istanbul skyline – scaffolding and major restoration.

Suleymaniye mosque Istanbul

Süleymaniye Mosque Resortations

We walked up to my favourite mosque (fantastic views along the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus from the gardens) in Beyazıt; Süleymaniye Mosque. It’s closed. Massive restoration work lasting from 2007 to the end of 2010. The end of 2010 – as in when Istanbul won’t be European Capital of Culture anymore and millions of tourists will have been and gone. The minarets of nearby mosques are also clad in scaffolding but it looks like all this will have disappeared by summer when most visitors are expected. And so I said to my Turkish friend, ‘Why didn’t they start everything a year earlier so it would all be finished for this year?’ Answer: Shrug of the shoulders, roll of the eyes, ‘Burası Türkiye.’

We’re not complaining because we can go to Istanbul whenever we want so we’ll see it again in all it’s scaffold-free glory and also, it can only be a good thing that so much restoration work is being carried out…but why could it not have been started a tad earlier? You know the answer. So, if you’ve always fancied a visit to Istanbul and you’re thinking this year – the year of European Capital of Culture – might be the year to visit, just ponder this for a minute. How even more amazing is this already amazing city going to look when everything is shiny and polished and clean, with maybe a few less visitors…in 2011?

And this being a positive blog, I would just like to say that we have just arrived back in Fethiye from a fantastic few days in Istanbul and we will be returning there for a few more days as soon as pennies permit.

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  1. I have a friend who is currently living in Turkey.
    These pics are a good reminder that I need to save my pennies in order to visit her.
    That and the fact that I love Turkish food. The last time I had great Turkish food was in NY.
    I love your write-ups.

  2. Did you see the recently uncovered angel at the Hagia Sofia?? I still haven’t, maybe I’ll wait till all the scaffolding’s off.

  3. Great to hear you had a lovely time on your mini break!
    You are right in a way, we are damn lucky we can go visit and gape at that city’s beauty any time we wish, shame its being renovated/polished up at the moment….*shoulder shrug* napacaz yani?…but scaffolding or not…It must still be pretty amazing 🙂

  4. Had a great time despite the scaffolding and it is all very necessary.

    C.Allyn, the Istanbul street food is a dream. It’s one of the main reasons we like going.

    Not been in Aya Sofya for about 5 years so haven’t seen any recent discoveries. They’d just discovered paintings behind the plasterwork when we went. Stunning. Expensive entry fee means leaving a nice long gap between visits.

  5. I found your blog a few days ago and I must say it is really good i’ve been looking for blogs like this for sometime now ^^. I have to admmit I have a rather unhealthy obsession with Turkey!. When I live in Turkey (hopefully) I shall surely visit Fethiye :)) I shall also be keeping out for Burası Türkiye ;D

  6. Good idea of yours – to visit in 2011. I love Istanbul, but haven’t been there for a while now, so it’s really time to plan my next visit:)

  7. Hi Khadija, I think our obsession with Turkey is probably a bit unhealthy too but nevermind eh?! It’s a fun one to have.

    Fida, Istanbul was as fabulous as ever. We’re hoping to go back again soon. There’s still so much we haven’t seen but we just get stuck watching the world go by.

  8. Good read… strikes a chord… with the Metro project, roads in some parts of Istanbul’s Asian side… and my very own India… where we say “We are like this only.” 🙂

  9. what a great time it seems you had even if the mosque was closed. There is a similar saying in Israel- “That’s how it goes in Israel”, which does annoy me sometimes. Although I visited the mosque many years ago I didn’t take pictures so need to make another visit 😉

  10. Well, it looks like most countries have these little sayings doesn’t it?! No problem with the mosque being closed Sarah. It gives us an excuse to go back to Istanbul again soon.

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