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Transnational Vs Vernacular in Istanbul, Turkey

By Sarah Grimaldi

        From mosques to cafes, castles to cobble stone streets, Istanbul Turkey is undeniably a unique city with an East meets West feel. There is an unmistakable aura of Europe throughout Istanbul. The narrow cobblestone streets, apartment like homes, and proliferation of cafes made me feel as if I was walking down a street in Italy. The preservation of older buildings and few newer neighborhoods adds to the city’s European characteristics. I had to keep reminding myself that the country I was in actually borders Iraq, Iran, and Syria! The mosques that are scattered throughout the city demonstrate that this is a largely Muslim inhabited place. The extravagant palaces in Istanbul offer a symbol of the Ottoman power that ruled the Middle East for five centuries. This East meets West feel gave Istanbul a distinctive charming ambiance that is unforgettable.

            Oddly enough, Istanbul reminded me of my home city, San Francisco, more than any other global city we have visited. The view of the Bosporus, the Golden Horn, Bridge, and ferries all reminded me of the San Francisco bay. The steep streets, taxi cabs, narrow buildings, and traffic all gave me a sense of home on the other side of the world. Jenny White’s article “Bridge between Europe and Asia” informed me that this traffic and congestion that I am accustomed to back home is a representation of the increased population growth in Istanbul. The continual building simply cannot keep up with the internal migration of people in Turkey.  The Starbucks, McDonalds, KFC, and Burger King throughout the shopping districts of the city are provided to cater to the Turkish transnational community.

            This transnational phenomenon emerging with the vernacular culture in Turkey is a reoccurring theme I have observed in the past global cities around the world. I found Turkey a particularly unique global city because the source of their transnational community lies within its own borders. The greatness of Istanbul is undeniable with the endless amounts of vernacular monuments throughout the city. The new Turkish transnational community may congest this scenic city like so many other global cities I have seen around the world.

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