Pictures from Byzantium
|The Hagia Sophia at night|
|Pertevniyal Valide Sultan Mosque near Aksaray metro station|
No, I didn't take this picture - it's from an Instathot's page
Istanbul is one of the most cosmopolitan and diverse cities anywhere in the world, sitting as it does at the crossroads of at least five different cultures and many different races. Mediterranean Europe, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Persia, and northern Africa have all left their mark on the city.
As a result, the women are highly diverse in origin, appearance, and of course femininity. You will find women of Arab, European, Asian, African, and Persian extraction all in the same place.
Let's start with the Arabs.
Arab women are generally not attractive. They tend to be on the heavy side, and the fact that they insist on walking around covered in bedspreads does not help matters. This is true pretty much wherever you find Muslim women; outside of Iran, very few of them seem to be particularly attractive.
I am of two minds about the fact that Arab women cover up so much.
They do so because their culture and "religion" demands it. And there are actually some good reasons for it. The "best" reason for doing so is the notion that a woman should only fully reveal herself to her husband, so that her beauty is saved for him, and him alone.
I get that idea. I appreciate it. I even agree with it, up to a point.
Here is the problem: way too many Arab women are seriously overweight. You can see it underneath the blankets that they walk around in - most of the Arab and orthodox Islamic Turkish women that I saw in Istanbul truly were heffalumps. And that is deeply unattractive. There appears to be a strong correlation between the fact that Arab women dress up in voluminous body-concealing clothes - thereby denying them the desire and attention of men - and the fact that so many of them are fat.
Interestingly, in the West, the correlation runs in the opposite direction; in most American and Canadian and British cities, in summer the tendency seems to be that the fatter a hambeast is, the less she wears. (Then again, given the weather in Europe or the USA in summer, this perhaps is not surprising.)
Also - while I support the idea that a woman should preserve the best of her beauty and grace for her man, I also happen to like looking at well-dressed feminine women. A woman does not have to walk around in next to nothing in order to attract attention. Eastern European women manage to do this very easily by simply dressing modestly but well.
So what about the rest?
|I didn't take this one either|
I do not find African women attractive, as a general rule, so I will not comment about them. There were a lot of Chinese tourists running around Istanbul, but they were an older crowd, and the few young Chinese-looking women that I did see often turned out to be speaking Russian, which indicated that they were from Kazakhstan or one of the other Central Asian border republics of Russia.
Depending on whether you are in the Asian, European, or eastern part of Istanbul, you may or may not encounter women with significant European genetic admixtures. Many of those women are very attractive, and most of them seem to be pretty secular - and more about the importance of secularism in Turkey later on, as it is indeed a major issue these days.
The most attractive women in Istanbul generally look very European or Persian. I remember with particular pleasure the memory of getting off my flight into Istanbul and immediately spotting a quite attractive lady inside the debarkation gate. She was blonde, slim, and had a very nice face and a well-shaped body - and she could have passed for someone from France or northern Italy if she had not been speaking in Turkish to her colleague. There were other similar instances in the metro stations where I spotted young ladies who genuinely looked European to me.
I reckon that if you spend a lot of time wandering through the Beyoglu and Karakoy districts of the city - not far from Taksim Square, basically, the heart of modern Istanbul - then you will be pleased by what you find.
The lady in the picture above looks fairly Iranian, and that also is unsurprising given that a decent chunk of the Iranian exile population lives in Turkey - especially in Istanbul. From what little I could observe, such women also seemed to be common in the European side of the city, whereas I was staying on the Asian side and did not see many of them.
|She is a famous Turkish actress, apparently.|
One thing you probably will notice about the Turkish ladies, if you get to spend any real time around them, is that many of them have amazing eyes. I enjoy looking into girls' eyes - it is one of the fastest ways to look into and understand their characters - and on the few occasions that I was able to look at a Turkish lady's eyes, I was not disappointed. They do have lively, beautiful, and colourful eyes.
There are lots of Russians in Istanbul and other tourist-friendly parts of Turkey. That is because Russkies get visa-free entry into Turkey, which comes in very handy for them. Since it is close to their country and easy to get to, you will often find quite a few very pretty Russian girls there. Unfortunately they tend to be there with boyfriends and husbands, but if you can find a few single Russian girls in Istanbul - go for it. I honestly do believe that a man hasn't really lived until he has been with a Russian girl and experienced that quite unique mixture of beauty, brains, femininity, and drama that she brings.
Oh, and one last point - you can generally spot the difference between an Arab woman and a more moderate Turkish woman by the way each one dresses. The Arab ladies tend to dress very conservatively and most of them wear the full bedspreads, of course.
The Turkish women, even the more socially conservative ones, dress in a much more feminine way. During my last few hours on Turkish soil at Ataturk Airport, I noticed a very attractive slim Turkish lady walking into a restaurant there with her husband. She was dressed in a long-sleeved blouse and skinny jeans with a colourful head-scarf over her hair - but her clothes showed off a very athletic, well-toned, and well-proportioned figure, while her face was quite pretty, with minimal makeup, and she had striking blue-green eyes.
She was a welcome relief from the large numbers of fat Arab women that I had been forced to observe throughout most of my time in Istanbul.
|Gardens within the courtyard of the Sultanahment Mosque (Blue Mosque)|
As you might expect from a city as diverse and cosmopolitan as Istanbul, there are a lot of different cultural mixtures and this means that different parts of the city have distinct "vibes".
The Asian part of the city, on the southern bank of the Bosporus canal emptying out into the Gulf of Marmara, appears to be home to the more conservative Muslim part of Istanbul. But it is also home to the original footprint of most of old Byzantium and Constantinople. You can still see the walls of the ancient capital surrounding the Hagia Sophia complex and the Topkapi Palace.
|Section of the wall of the old city in the Asian quarter, near the Hagia Sophia|
It is in the Asian sector of the city that you will find many of the most beautiful architectural and cultural gems of Istanbul - which is not perhaps all that surprising, since the city existed for well over a thousand years before the !@#$%^&* Ottomans came along and crashed the party in 1453.
|Frontal shot of the Hagia Sophia - once a cathedral, then a mosque, now a museum|
|Looking across the Bosporus on a boat cruise at the European side of the city|
|Taksim Square with the mosque in the background and the monument to the 1923 revolution in the foreground|
|Walking through Beyoglu District|
|St. Antoine's Cathedral. It really is a very beautiful place, but sadly I didn't get a chance to go inside.|
That latter sentiment may come as something of a surprise to you at first. If you drive through Istanbul on the way to a hotel or apartment from Ataturk Airport, you would be forgiven for thinking that it's just like any other big European city - prosperous, orderly, nice architecture, reasonably quiet, well built, charming, etc. etc.
It's just not. You will quickly discover that Istanbul contains some of the worst aspects of the Third World in terms of rubbish on the streets, litter, uncleanliness, and general disorder. Be prepared for this and understand that you REALLY do not want to drink the tap water - bring hand sanitiser and do not skimp on shelling out liras for bottled water. (Which, fortunately, is pretty cheap - a bottle of "mineral" water will cost you 1-1.5 TRL at most.)
|Ortakoy Mosque on the banks of the Bosporus|
If you have never heard the adhan, imagine, if you can, a goat being raped by a very messed-up dude. (Yeah, seriously. Good luck sleeping at night with that image going through your head.)
Now imagine the sound being broadcast via loudspeakers from the minarets of a very, very large mosque.
Now imagine every mosque within a three-mile radius doing the same thing, one after another.
Honestly, the best way that I can describe it is "goat-molestation in high-definition surround sound".
If I made you spit your coffee at your computer monitor - sorry, not sorry. Hey, I can't help it if the truth isn't fun!!!
One other off-putting thing about Istanbul from a Christian, or at least Godly, perspective is the sense of heaviness that you get.
This is very hard to describe to anyone who does not try to have a direct relationship of the conversational sort, at the very minimum, with the Big Fella Upstairs. But real Christians will instantly know what I am on about here. When you are in heathen lands, you will feel a sense of something heavy sitting on your shoulders, and a weird sense of wrongness in your head - as if you have radio static filling the space between your ears, but you cannot pinpoint its source.
The reason for this static is simple. You are not in a place where you can have unfettered direct contact with your Creator. You are instead in a place where they spit on His Name and do everything He damns as highest crime.
I never got that sense for one single moment during my time in Russia, and it was never a problem for me in the USA - because there are Christians and churches everywhere in both countries. In Turkey I definitely felt it a little, though I had other pleasant distractions to help divert my attention from it. Here in the old country, it's a huge problem.
There was a time when Turkey in general and Istanbul in particular was highly secular. From about 1923, the time of Mustafa Kemal's revolution to overthrow the remnants of the degenerate and decaying Ottoman Empire, to roughly the mid-1990s, Turkey was one of the most secular nations in the Middle East, if not the most. but today it has swung over hard to the Islamic side. And that is because of Turkey's particular demographics.
See, Istanbul, being as it is in the Turkish west, is in the more secular part of the country, and as such the population growth rate there is considerably lower than it is in the much more conservative and hardline eastern section of Turkey. Not coincidentally, the capital, Ankara, is to the east. Over the last few decades, the conservative Islamist part of Turkey has comprehensively out-bred the secular western part - and now Istanbul finds itself in its current pickle, wherein it has become significantly more Islamised.
As always - all things come down to sex and death. If secular people don't have sex, while religious people do have sex, then eventually the number of secular people will drop relative to the number of religious ones, since everybody ultimately dies.
Sights, Sounds, Smells
|View over the Gulf of Marmara at sunset|
There are three things that I strongly recommend that you do while in Istanbul if you have the time.
|Taken outside the entrance to Istanbul University|
So, with all of that said and done - is Istanbul worth visiting for you, and would I go back there?
|Galata Tower in Karakoy|