Good Reading : March 2011
52 goodreading ı MARCH 2011 Istanbul has been known by nearly a dozen names throughout its history. Constantinople and Byzantium are the two names that are probably the most well known. In the words of the song, 'Why did Constantinople get the works? That's nobody's business but the Turks.' But who are the Turks? The answer is not obvious. This i a country where the call to prayer is broadcast five times a day yet wearing a headscarf to a gover nment job is against the law. Most women, at least in Istanbul, do not wear any for m of veil. It's also a country that has a lot of skeletons in its closets.The Istanbu Military Museum rightly celebrates a distinguished military tradition -- the Australians get a passing mention and one feathered hat in the Dardanelles exhibit -- but it also devotes a room to denying the Ar menian genocide. Tourism is big in Istanbul.Whereas the Cappadocia region is largely devoted to adventure, and the Turkish coast is given over to hedonism, the focus in Istanbul is on history. But it's often Greek history, both classical and Byzantine. Fortunately, finding something in English to read on this fascinating country is not difficult. The two main concentrations of bookshops in Istanbul are in the Sultanahmet area -- in the old city near the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque -- and across the Golden Horn (the inlet of the Bosphorus that divides Istanbul into two) in Galata, on or near Istiklal Caddesi, the elegant pedestrian street filled with music stores, theatres, cafés and cinemas. Sultanahmet is where you'll find the most famous of the Byzantine and Ottoman monuments. It is a maze of narrow, steep cobbled streets lined by three- and four-storey houses and apartments and the occasional ruin. In the streets leading up from the Topkapi books on the bosphorus GRANT HANSEN, gr reader and traveller, drops into Istanbul to check out the bookshops. fully booked The Golden Horn (the inlet of the Bosphorus that divides Istanbul into two) and Galata Bridge. Hagia Sophia is a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey.