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From the book “I am Istanbul” by Buket UZUNER
“I am Istanbul, city of cities, mistress of metropolises, community of poets, seat of emperors, favorite of sultans, pearl of the world! My name is Istanbul and my subjects call themselves “Istanbullu”. And of all the world’s cities, I am without doubt the most magnificent, mysterious and terrible, a city upon whose shores Pagans, Christians, Jews, and unbelievers, friend and foe alike, have found safe harbor through the ages, a place where love and betrayal, pleasure and pain, live side by side.
I, daughter of Poseidon, miracle of Argonauts, Empress of Medieval Cities, the harbinger of a New Age, whose star shines anew in the 21st century, am the city of prosperity and ruin, of defeat and glad tidings. Istanbul is my name. It is I! Place of extremes, the full gamut of human emotions experienced at one and the same time, from the sublime to the basest, the loftiest to the lowest. I! My name is Istanbul, eternal archangel and goddess of cities. They come and go, leaving their mark on my soul. I have seen them rise and fall, be born and decline; I harbor their jumbled relics in my underground cisterns and vaults.
Blue as hope, green as poison, rosy as dawn, I am Istanbul in the Judas tree, in acacia, in lavender; I am turquoise, the unfathomable; the muse of possibility, vitality, creativity.
My name is Istanbul…
That’s what they call me, what they have been calling me for a century past; but I have been Constantinople, city of Constantine; I began as Byzantium, and have had many names since: The Gate of Heavenly Felicity, Dersaadet, Dar’üssadet, New Rome, Asitane, Daraliye, He Polis, Tsargrad, Stamboul, Konstantiniyye … Mortals are like that, forever changing names, laws and borders! I laugh at these mortals taking themselves so seriously in their fleeting mortal world of false illusion, fears and shadows. Had anyone thought to consult me, I would have chosen “Queen of All I Survey”, which is what I am, anyway. I am Queen of Queens, City of Cities; I have walked with emperors and sultans, shared the confidences of travelers and poets. Aspiring authors still line up to write about me. In fact, here comes one now!”