Do not brag


Ozayr: so are you guys done with the map exercise.

Student: yea, was finally able to write more than 300 words

Me: I got more than 500 words need to start taking out stuff

Ozayr: ok since you are bragging about it, you will have to blog about it too !

This is how it all started…

This blog is just to give an insight on the mapping exercise we had to work on as the first paper for our history class in Istanbul. We were asked to locate a “curious” map of Istanbul and write a minimum of 300 word essay explaining the ways in which the geography of Istanbul is represented in it.

Well that should be simple for us!! After all,  a quite successful time in Rome working on our first project, “mapping of the old city”, should have turned us masters in dealing with maps. That was not the case. At first the hard part was to actually find a “curious” map of Istanbul through which we can relate to, and then write the 300 word essay about it.

In general, maps are important for many reasons. They help one navigate a city, and allow relationships between buildings to be made. It was interesting to see the variety of maps chosen by my colleagues and the different interpretations from each map.


Some of the maps followed a similar style as the famous G.B. Nolli map. This map represented the expansion of the Ottoman empire beyond the city walls emphasized on the density of buildings inside the walls.


Other maps highlighted the different shipping lanes in the bodies of water around Istanbul (Golden Horn, Bosporus, Sea of Marmara). This illustrated how crucial water transport was to the growth and survival of the city. It focused more upon the relationship of land to water, demonstrating how ships might have brought goods and supplies to the dense and thriving urban city.

Another map depicted Istanbul in a very experiential manner placing precedence on experience over precision. It depicted the key monumental buildings of the city as axonometric drawings projected upwards, leaving their facades clear. What was interesting about this map is that despite the inaccuracy of certain buildings (Hagia Sophia/obelisks/Fatih Mosque), we were still able to figure out the year it was drawn by looking at other details shown on the map (Identifiable Mosques). These key inaccuracies lead us to believe that the artist might have never actually travelled to Istanbul

It was an interesting exercise to work on, one that opened my eyes on how far maps can vary in shape, form, style, and content.

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