Istanbul-Living Like a Local

I had the privilege of staying with Umut’s friend and experiencing living in Istanbul as a local. His apartment was located near Cihangir, situated on a steep hill that eventually leads to the sea. There are cats and dogs everywhere that roam the streets and don’t belong to anyone, yet they are not vicious and are often fed by the locals.

Many traditional Muslim families live in this neighborhood, where the women wear a hijab to cover their head. Strict Muslims are not the majority in Turkey though, and as a secular country there are many individuals who do not follow traditional Muslim rules, such as fasting for Ramazan.

Across the street, visible from my bedroom window are ancient tombstones with Arabic writing and when I saw them I imagined how life was back then, how this neighborhood was different and how it was the same. Walking along the streets of Istanbul I can often feel the past lingering right behind the modernity of the city. This is what I love about Istanbul, how the past and present exist so harmoniously together.