Transformation of Istanbul

Sevgili Istanbul is a collection of memories as twenty of the city’s most famous residents recapture the life-changing experiences about Istanbul. The author, Remzi Gokdag, features candid accounts of interviews with these people who have called the city home, their life-changing experiences and important notes of Istanbul’s past. These stories vary from funny to sad, from inspiring to memorable, also they combine to form an impressionistic history of Istanbul since the early days of the Republic until today.

The city where cultures meet

Istanbul has always been at the crossroads as the only major city that lies on the border between two continents. It is a gateway city between the East and West, from the Greeks, to the Romans, to the Ottomans, to the millions of immigrants from every imaginable far-flung corner who swell its streets even today. Since 1970 this ancient city has blossomed from 2 million to a megalopolis of 16 million, stretching across 2,060 square miles: four-and-a-half times the area of New York City.

Today many locals feel overwhelmed by the ongoing makeover, which they view as focusing on profit for the privileged while ignoring the city’s historical past. Today, in the shadow of an iconic, minaret-spiked skyline, old town neighbourdhoods are being rebuilt. Luxury hotels and massive infrastructure are rising all over the city. Innovative art, design and dining scenes attract people from all over the world. But during this transformation, the city lost it’s own culture and historical values. Some of its residents find this as a success story, while others believe the opposite. In their view, the city’s unique traditions and historical background are disappearing.

About the book

Remzi Gokdag’s book Sevgili Istanbul (Dear Istanbul) compiles twenty memories by well-known notable Istanbul figures of the last century. These may be extraordinary people, but their experiences and emotions are recognizable as our own. They recollect their memories about the city which is lost today.

From the author of Park Otel Olayi, Remzi Gokdag’s new book Sevgili Istanbul very much resembles the city itself which is always glamorous, sometimes lonely, mostly bizarre and full of wonders. The stories vary in length and tone, but they express the city’s memorable past.

These figures recollect the old Istanbul and also tell the story of one of the greatest cities in the world. For them there really is no place like Istanbul. For anyone else who had lived, currently lives or dreams about living in Istanbul, these vivid, truthful and mostly joyful memories will present a historical record of old Istanbul. Some of their stories are happier than the others, but all of them are representations of the city from an individual’s perspective in a specific time in history.

Contributors include Safa Önal, Ara Güler, Hıfzı Topuz, Doğan Kuban, Nurettin Sözen, Adalet Ağaoğlu, Hamdi Arpacı, Murat Belge, Hasan Pulur, Haldun Hürel, Muhterem Nur, John Freely, Oğuz Atalay, Müjdat Gezen, Aydın Boysan, Halit Kıvanç, Rüknü Özkök, Yorgo Okumuş, Haldun Dormen and Oktay Akbal.

Remzi Gökdağ

Remzi Gokdag could be described in many ways, but perhaps most efficient words are wanderer and wonderer: across territories, eras, peoples and cultural boundaries. He was born in Istanbul, Turkey.

Before traveling the world, he was award-winning journalist. His journeys started when he started to work as a foreign correspondent in the 1990s.

The experience has undoubtedly changed him. After living in Moscow, Los Angeles and Zurich he moved to Dubai, UAE and currently lives there. He may be there now but always in search for going sowehere else…

If you want to know more about him, please visit his website.