Street art in Istanbul
There is no doubt that the language of the wall transcends nations. As I traversed and crisscrossed this city mainly from one eatery to the next or one historical must see to the next the street art in Istanbul kept popping up. On shop shutters, on old and dilapidated buildings and on walls the city’s street art served as splendid adornments of the city’s scape. From Eminönü near Sultanahmet to Kadıköy across the Galata bridge street art in Istanbul seemed to be as pervasive as its centuries-old Ottoman buildings. It was first in London, England, that I noticed the connection between “hunting” for food and street art.
That connection has since been like switching of a light bulb in my head. I cannot help, but notice street art everywhere I go on my travels. In fact, I expect it. The more progressive a city is, the more acceptance its populace seem to show for street art. Istanbul, as ancient as it seems is also just as progressive.
Balat and Fener, two of the city’s most colourful and bohemian quarters is where I found most street art. Their multi coloured buildings seemed to be in natural sync with the hundreds of multi-coloured street art in the two neighbourhoods. A quick trip to the Galata Tower and the Rainbow steps revealed another bohemian corner of Istanbul in the Beyoglu district called Cihangir. Again street art seem to envelope Istanbul’s most colourful steps –the rainbow steps, in a way that made the art almost invincible.
It seemed to me that there was some organisation of the art at work. Not every wall was a canvass. There were rules that confined the pieces of work to disguising otherwise boring silver metallic shop shutters and brightening up dilapidated and ruined buildings dotted around the city. Some art pieces, notably murals, were so large and high up on buildings that they could be clearly seen several hundred meters away, in this the hilliest of cities.
There are rather like London, street art tours in Istanbul for the dedicated street art hunter. However, if you are anything like me and prepared to walk miles across the city in the name of discovering every inch of it, then you probably will not need a guide. The street art in Istanbul will come running to you. Just make sure you are steady on your feet enough for the avalanche of colour and creativity that will hit you.