Yesterday, our group went to visit one of my favorite places in Istanbul, Eyup. It was a beautiful day, so we decided to take advantage of it and walk there. Our walk took us through water-side parks of the Golden Horn, speckled with newly planted cherry tress casting spindly shadows on the concrete paths. The edges of the paths sloped gently into the water, allowing the water to slide up along the edges and be experienced not just visually, and audibly, but tangibly. The change in accessibility to the water drew people to the edge in a way that is different than in other parts of Istanbul. People were dipping their bare feet into the water, pools had formed giant puddles on the paths in places, boat wakes ebbed onto the concrete, and we even saw a jellyfish that had been carried onto the path by the water and left there.
We arrived to Eyup, and I couldn’t help but feel like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. The decrease in density of people, buildings, and activity made me feel like I’d arrived in another country. The best word that I can think of to describe Eyup is ‘quaint’, but that’s not to say that there is not monumentality to be experienced there. The cemetery that covers the hillside is an example of the integrated monumentality that Eyup contains. We took the gondola up to the top of the hill, grabbed some ice cream, and wove our way down through the cemetery. It was amazing to see the massive complexity of the cemetery from the top of the hill and then also acknowledge the intimate details and spaces that make up the complex as we walked down through the site.