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Listening to Istanbul

The course title 'Listening to Istanbul' refers to a poem by the Turkish poet Orhan Veli. Based on the sounds he is hearing, 'intensely listing, his eyes closed' he describes the city, its present as well as its past. In this course the participants will learn how to discover the endlessly rich and multi-layered heritage of Istanbul this way, its sounds, smells, dialogues and curses, markets and harbours, people and buildings. The course will also introduce a way of experiencing a 'cultural environment' in such a sensitive way. Part of this is to articulate voices from the past representing these various layers.


'To the city' (Εις την πόλιν - Istanbul)


The form of this course is a theatre play, with the city of Istanbul as the stage. The participants will perform on suitable locations the various groups which have entered this 'stage' and have in this way contributed to its heritage.



Day Part and location Activity and topics
1 - su
Act 1 - The Greek colonists
Scene 1 Burgazada island, Sait Falik museum. Sait Faik (the Turkish Mark Twain) is a writer of short stories (e.g. The Waiter) in which he portrays Istanbul life.
  • Opening course
  • Reading Sait Faik story.
  • Delphi oracle scene:
    Opposite of the land of the blind
Scene 2

Kadikoy (Chalcedon), the land of the blind

  • Character of the quarter (expansion of Istanbul when connections became better via steam boats - liberal)
Scene 3


  • Crossing the Bosphoros
Scene 4

Gulhani parkki

Scene 5

Archaeological museum

  • The grave stones
    In the museum we will find a collection of moving gravestones dating from the early Greek period - we will make them speak.
  • Visit museum (Chain Golden Horn, Golden Gate, Walls)
2 - mo
Act 2 - Romans and Religion
Scene 1 By train via southern sea wall to Yedikule - Golden Gate
  • Theodosius meets Mehmet Fatih (on the graveyard in front of the Golden Gate)
Scene 2 (Short) walk along the land walls to Belgrat Kapi, bus to Edirne Kapi. Aetios Cistern.
  • The water supply
Scene 3 Kariye Camii (Chora church)
  • Metochites shows us around and tells about his life

Lunch (pide)

To terrace and view - down to Balat

Scene 4 Balat (Jewish) and Fener (Greek) quarter
  • Orthodox Patriarchate, Synagogue, Armenian Church, Maria of the Mongols Church (Mouchliotissa) - Ferman, Mevlana Tekke, Great (Greek) school (Megali Scholi), Fundamentalist/Islamist quarter.
Scene 5 From Fatih Camii to Hippodrome
  • Tracing the Romans: Valens aquaduct, the Roman Mese (main street), forums (Theodosius and Constantine), crossing the walls of Septimius Severus, Hippodrome and location of the earliest Greek necropolis (grave stones)
3 - tu
Act 3 - The Ottomans
Scene 1 Crossing to Asia, Üsküdar (Chryssopolis - Scutari - connection with Alkibiades )
  • Character of the the quarter (Anatolian immigrants, conservative).
  • Mosque (Sinan) and market
  • Walk to Kuzguncuk - coffee
  • Bus to Anadolu Hisari
Scene 2 From Anadolu Hisari to Rumeli Hisari (by boat, 13:40)
  • Tracing the Ottomans
Scene 3 Rumeli Hisari theatre
4 - we

Participants are free to stroll around. Suggested visits (tickets and information sheets available):

At the end of the day dinner together in the Greek oriented restaurant Mythos, in Kadikoy, Haiderpasja train station, (1) the late 19th c. (planned) connection to the east (Baghdad) and (2) the place where Anatolian migrants used to arrive in the City recently

5 - th

Act 4 - The merchants

Scene 1 Taksim  
Scene 2 Istiqlal Cadesi (+ embassies) Discussion/conversations Cyril Lucaris in Dutch chapel
Scene 3 Galata tower  
Scene 4 Golden Horn  
Scene 6 Venetian basements  
Scene 6 Egyptian market Benjamin Tudela describes the city
Scene 7 Grand bazar  
6 - fr
Act 5 - The migrants
Scene 1 Visit to Tarlabaşı quarter
Scene 2 Visit to Hüviyet Bekir İlköğretim Okulu, a primary school in the Tarlabaşı quarter with mainly Kurdish and Roma pupils.
  • Conversation with teacher(s)
  Gecekondu and migration
Scene 4 Dolmabahçe Palace
7 - sa
Final and applaus
  Maiden tower
  • Certification
  • Evaluation
  • Poetry reading
  • Lunch


Optional: visit to Eyup, the bayraktar (flag bearer) of the prophet, return by ferry


Editor(s): Özlem Arslan Erkoç, Fokko Dijkstra
Latest revision: 7. December 2015 14:47 

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