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The City of Eur-Asia

By Jane Wiseman

is a fabulous city. Not only is it chock-full of things to do but it's full to the brim with culture and history. As the previous capital of three world empires Istanbul has been through a lot. Everywhere you go are remnants of time gone by. One thing I saw (and of course took a picture of) is a stone pillar called “Million”. It is all that remains of a giant Roman arch of the Byzantine Empire from which all road distances in the empire were measured. It sits a few meters in the ground where street level used to be and is one of the many artifacts that remind visitor's of Istanbul’s history.
                 While the many historical artifacts slap you in the face, the more subtle things in Istanbul are the differences between the Europe and Asian sides of the city.  While both sides of the city are crowded with people, as Jenny White talked about in her article "Bridge between Europe and Asia," the Asian side has a much more city-like feel to it. There is a much more “downtown” area which is composed of giant skyscrapers. While on the European side, you tend to find smaller, more vernacular streets. Even the way people dress is different depending on which side of the Bosphorus River you’re on.
                    However, both sides are alike in that they both represent what it means to be part of a transnational city. Both sides of the city contain international, corporate chains (Pizza Hut and Starbucks) and the quaint areas are starting to get taken over by the more modern indoor-mall setup. Istikal Street in Taksim Square is a good example of this. It is closed to motor traffic and is composed of places to eat, shop, and spend time with friends. However, as you walk along the street you notice that there are some chain stores that might be found anywhere in the world. While talking to a Turkish man I met during my visit, he lamented this gradual loss of Istanbul’s history, leaving in its place the modern, stainless steel McWorld.

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