How Istanbul winks at me & makes me feel at home
As many, I love Istanbul & I feel connected to this extraordinary city. For the past 5 years, Istanbul winked at me a couple of time & I always saw this as little signs I’m in the right place.
If you’re like me, you get curious about the whole world.... and forget to discover your own neighborhood! So Kurtuluş remained for long as the area in Istanbul I knew the least. Just because when I go out of my house, I to discover other places….. without realizing there is a lot to discover here too.
First, let me tell you how I ended up living in the Kurtuluş area, as it is quite a story.
In summer 2013, I was still in France, with a one-way flight already booked to go & live in Istanbul in October. During my previous short stays in Istanbul, I connected with quite a lot of foreigners to build up my network. So I was not surprised to receive in July an email from a girl about to leave her room in a shared flat & looking for a substitute.
She told me about the flat, its location & her roommate. She eventually gave me her flatmate’s name.... & her last name. It sounded oddly familiar. Quite an unusual last name, borne by some family members of MY family 😳.
I checked with my grandpa, who’s into genealogy & it turned out the lady who might become my new flatmate was the daughter of the brother of one of my grandpa’s sister’s husband. Still here? To make it easier, we were (not blood related) cousins 🥂. I thought it was quite a positive sign & I decided to go for this flat.
So since I arrived in Istanbul, I live in Kurtuluş & the more I live here, the more I love it
An old Armenian neighborhood, neither traditional nor trendy. Just a normal neighborhood, full of markets, small restaurants & shops, with some old houses. I love the normality of this area, a Turkish normality of course so it still feels quite exotic for me. To have one of the oldest Turkish basketball clubs is one more thing that makes Kurtulus unique! Of course, cats are everywhere, most of them fed by locals 😻.
People from different backgrounds are all living together, and everything is just fine. Armenians, Greeks, Philippin nannies, African watches sellers or businessmen, foreigners working as English teacher, belly-dancer or photographer, travestis, Jehovah witnesses are part of this very eclectic area.
When I decided to move out the shared flat to live by myself, I just wanted to stay in this area & I was lucky to find a small flat just a few minutes further than the previous one.
But I didn’t know much about the history of Kurtuluş before I went on a tour with Mustafa Kemal Dönmez, Turkish French-speaking professional guide. We visited a place I always wanted to go to: the Latin Katolik Kabristanı in Pangaltı (Roman Catholic Cemetery).
Levantine families, mainly French & Italian, were buried there. The Feriköy area even got its name after the French Pierre Ferry (According to legend, the 3rd Sultan Ahmet Ahmet falls from his horse falling from his horse. Pierre Ferry, who lives nearby, takes his home without knowing that he is the Sultan and makes his first treatment. The sultan of the sentient gives the name “Feriköy”). But you can’t imagine how surprised I was to discover, thanks to the French writer Gisèle Durero Köseoğlu, a gothic vault on which was written “Famille Deveaux”.
I already knew people bearing the same last name as mine used to live in Istanbul. When you’re walking on Istiklal street, coming from Taksim square, look up at the Demirören building, you can see this 😎 (It seems I’m not blood-related with the family who used to own this building but it’s quite fun to see my last name up there when I’m walking on Istiklal street!)
One more wink in August 2018!
I discovered a cousin of mine is living in Istanbul too! Incredible, isn’t it? Our great grandmothers were sisters! I love the fact that life managed to connect us, thanks to great-uncles having diner together. We’ve met a couple of times already & I really hope we’ll create many occasions to meet again.
As I’m in love with Istanbul & the way this city makes me feel, I am SO happy everything I see a wink 😉🥰!
If you ever visited or even lived in Istanbul, you know what I’m talking about. Do you also feel Istanbul is winking at you once in a while? I’d love to read your story so please tell me about it in the comment part below!
And if you don’t know this city yet, I can only advice you to come & visit! Maybe you will find out you have some cousins here too 🥳!
PS: For French-speakers, here is the best blog about Istanbul: Le Blog d’lstanbul,
For English-Speakers, here is one that will fit your needs: Yabangee
All the best 🤩.