Wrinkles of the City, Istanbul

"Wrinkles of the City" portrait in Galata, overlooking the Golden Horn

A friend, Juliana, and I decided to go in search of the "Wrinkles of the city, Istanbul". This is a series of images by the French artist, JR. They are part of a project begun in 2008 in an effort to portray urbanisation in different cities of the world. "Wrinkles" refers to the faces of the elderly affected by the changes and upheavals they have experienced in city life. The portraits are huge, each covering the whole side of a building, forcing the locals to experience JR's massive images.

The Galata Tower looms over one of JR's portraits in Istanbul

An elderly couple cling together, on the side of a warehouse beside the Golden Horn

Many of the images are already damaged by the weather...

...and others have been vandalised

This one in Balat is still in good condition.

Although JR installed 15 images throughout Istanbul, we only managed to find a handful of them. We had a fun day, however, walking in interesting parts of the city, and riding up the Golden Horn in one of the smaller ferry boats. There is always something fun to do in Istanbul.

Elizabeth Coughlan 


Photography Trek to Kadirga, Istanbul

Sokullu Mehmet Pasa Mosque

Although it was pouring with rain, the intrepid members of our photography club, braved the elements and travelled to Kadirga, an area of Istanbul. Our first stop was the Sokullu Mehmet Pasa Mosque, which was unfortunately closed, although we did have access to the courtyard.

This mosque, designed by Sinan the Architect, was built in 1571 in the name of the Sokullu Mehmed Pasa, a prominent Grand Vizier in the Ottoman period. It was built on the site of the Aya Anastasia Church dating from the Byzantine period.

The beautiful calligraphy over the entrance to the mosque

Intricate carvings in the wall of the mosque

One of our members decided to photograph the carvings from a different angle

We carried on walking through the wet, rainy streets running with water

We found some interesting graffiti...

...very artistic!

Many of the buildings in this area retain their original form...

...and the streets are quite charming...

...as are some of its inhabitants.

Despite the weather, we had a really interesting day. Thanks to everyone who braved the weather.

Elizabeth Coughlan


Mount Nemrut, Turkey

This view from the top of Mount Nemrut gives an idea of how high it is.

We, literally, made a flying visit to Mount Nemrut, in Southeastern Turkey, with friends Jan and Tim. We flew into nearby Adiyaman on Saturday, and out again on Sunday. At the airport, we hired a car and began our drive to one of the most spectacular monuments of the ancient world.

At the top of the 2150 metre Mount Nemrut, is the burial mound of King Antiochos 1 of Commagene, which dates back to 62 BC. It is surrounded by 7 metre-high statues of Greek gods, and sacred animals. Unfortunately, all the heads have been toppled off, and stand like the Easter Island statues on the ledge below.

David and Tim walking over the ancient Roman Cendere Bridge

On the way to the mountain, we stopped off to see the humpback Roman bridge over the Cendere River. Built in the 2nd century AD in honour of the Emperor Septimius Severus, his wife and sons, the bridge, although renovated in places, stands as a monument to Roman engineering.

Looking out from the bridge

Kahta Castle

Another stop was to look at the old castle, perched high upon a hill. This was the fortress of the kings of Commagene. It was later added to, and houses dwelling places, shopping areas, a bazaar, a mosque, cisterns, a jail and a dungeon. Unfortunately, much of the castle is being renovated, so is off limits to tourists at the moment.

Finally, we started the approach to Mount Nemrut. The road was steep, and winding, and still being built, so there were some tricky moments as the car made the climb.

The long hiking path to the top of Mount Nemrut

Once at the car park, we were confronted by a 600 metre mountainous path to the top. I realised that I would struggle to reach the summit, so I asked a waiting man how much was the donkey ride to the top. "It's not a donkey, it's a taxi", he said emphatically. So I booked my "taxi" to the top, and began my perilous ascent. Of course, I realised that it wasn't even a donkey, it was a mule, so it was able to bear my  weight. Fortunately, the man clung to my arm all the way up, so I didn't feel unsafe, even though the "taxi" teetered on the edge of the slippery, stony cliff face from time to time. (I might add that the "taxi" didn't follow the steps up, but stayed on the rocks! You can just imagine how slippery the terrain was!)

Tim took this photo of me on a Mount Nemrut "taxi"!

The headless statues on Mount Nemrut

Intrepid travellers! They all managed the climb to the top!

King Antiochos 1 of Commagene

Sacred Lion

The head of Zeus

We decided against crossing this frozen snowfield

Finally reaching the top, we admired the statues and heads on the first terrace, but had to cross a snowfield to see the other terraces. Just in front of us, some boys slipped on the icy track and tumbled down. Due to advanced age, we felt we wouldn't risk damaging ourselves by falling down on the lethal ice, so we didn't get to see the rest of the statues. Never mind! We will just have to go again when the ice has melted!

At the end of the day, we found our hotel, The Kervansaray.

The next morning, we breakfasted on the terrace, with the most amazing view

View from the terrace

Our typically Turkish breakfast. This was followed by omelettes, then fruit.

...and all around, the wild poppies were in flower.

Such a fun weekend. Thank you Jan and Tim, you were great travel companions!

Elizabeth Coughlan


Botanical Gardens, Istanbul University

We began by gazing out at the wonderful view from the terrace of the 
Istanbul University's Botanical Gardens

The Botanical Garden, belonging to Istanbul University, is the oldest and most diverse botanical garden in Turkey, housing more than 3,000 species of plants. This area, consisting of 17 hectares of gardens, is near to the Suleymaniye Mosque, with amazing views over the Golden Horn.

Hedges separate the different species of plants

It was fascinating looking around the Botanical Gardens. We saw all kinds of different plants, some of them quite new to us.

Fortunately, most of them were named, like this Marsileaceae, a form of water clover. 
Did you know that this can thrive for more than 100 years by continually reseeding itself?

We wandered through some of the nine greenhouses, housing a large variety of plant species, 
like palms, cacti and carnivorous flowers.

Many of the greenhouses had waterlily ponds, unfortunately it was too early in the season
for flowers to have developed

We could see the Galata Tower across the Golden Horn..

...as well as the Bosphorus...

In 1995, the plants and trees in the Istanbul University Botanical Gardens were placed under legal protection by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Despite this, there are reports that the government has plans to open this area to construction and development. It would be so sad if this oasis of tranquility in the midst of this bustling city, was to be buried under tons of concrete!

We finished our tour with lunch in a rooftop restaurant with a 360° view of Istanbul. What a great day out!

Our lunchtime view of the new Ataturk Bridge...

...and the Galata bridge

Elizabeth Coughlan

Press Centre

Press Centre
I couldn't resist this one!