The Photo Story: The faces of Istanbul

The year 1453 marks the siege of Constantinople and the conclusion of an era. The heavily-fortified capital of the Byzantine empire was invaded and captured by the Ottomans under Sultan Mehmed II. On the Asian side of the city, a local boy sits atop this sculpture that stands as a reminder of the historical significance of this year
Photographer: Sahil Vohra

WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHS: Sahil Vohra

My father Sunil and I share a lot more than our surname and familiar-sounding first names. Ardent lovers of Bollywood classics, our alma mater, cars and all things old school, we had never travelled much together. When I threw him a ball called Istanbul, he was only too happy to catch it, and what followed was a trip at short notice in April 2014. We were a duo on a mission to explore the known and not-so-known jewels of the Turkish capital.

Sultanahmet then, as it is for most visitors, was our choice of area to stay in. It is this part of the city that formed the famed Constantinople, the newer parts of Taksim (the other side of Galata Bridge) and other areas being outliers. It provides convenient access to the major historical points of interest like the Blue Mosque, the famed hamams, Topkapi Palace, the Hagia Sophia, the basilica-turned-mosque-turned museum, the Basilica Cistern, Grand Bazaar, Spice Bazaar and a myriad other nooks, corners and lanes that titillate a traveller’s impetuosity. We combined our amblings in Sultanahmet with a must-do cruise down the Bosphorus and a walk over to the newer part of the city up via Istiklal Caddesi (Istiklal Avenue) to Taksim Square.

Istanbul is truly a photographer’s playground. It offers everything from the splendour of ancient and medieval history, natural beauty and unparalleled views, to the childish gastronomical excitement courtesy my father’s plates. And, of those, there were many. With his wife not around to keep him in check, Dad went the distance. I, a vegetarian, could only watch.

 

At the Galata Bridge water front, ornate tea-shop boats call out to passers-by while commuters are caught up in the frenzy of the Eminönü tram and bus stop. The Süleymaniye Mosque impressively oversees it all
Photographer: Sahil Vohra
On the Asian side of the Bosphorus, two men were heavily engrossed in their game of tavla, a derivative of backgammon, watched over by the medieval Maiden’s Tower, a visitor favourite that sits on a small islet at the southern entrance of the famous Bosphorus Strait
Photographer: Sahil Vohra
A fisherman mends his nets in the quaint seaside village of Anadolu Kavağı at the mouth of the Black Sea
Photographer: Sahil Vohra