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Place-hacking İstanbul

January 24, 2011

With the danger of showing how far behind I am by linking to “Year in Review” articles, these Year in Review articles really need to be seen.

Say what you want about the “alt” lifestyle of the place-hackers, but they do some pretty rad stuff. Sure, it’s basically breaking and entering, but at least it’s breaking and entering cool places. It’s not even that I particularly like London, but I’d probably like it better from the King’s Reach Tower.

And then there’s the underground networks that use the, erm, underground networks of Paris:

But the caves were sealed off for the last time at least 20 years ago and subsequently “ceased to exist officially”, Lazar said. “We knew them well because we used them to get into the Palais de Chaillot every Bastille Day. The roof is the perfect place from which to watch the fireworks.”

It’s fascinating stuff to read. And I’m sure it exists in some form in Istanbul. But I’m not cool enough to know it. The places you can break into and wander through in Istanbul must be incredible.

A secret Istanbul, hidden from the eyes of all but the most fortunate is not exactly groundbreaking stuff. Pamuk talks about it in The Black Book and I’ve talked about it here and there. This merely just continues my series of ‘awesome things to do illegaly in Istanbul’ that I highly recommend you do (if you have some sort of political invinciblity, only). But still. Where would YOU break into if you had the metaphorical keys to the city?

I think that the Basilica Cisterns, Aya Sofya, and Topkapı are pretty much givens. Sooner or later the Turkish Tourism Foundation is going to take my advice and do a lock-in of Topkapı. But until then, there are lockpick kits.

Somewhat more random would be the İstanbul U. light tower and a minaret of Süleymaniye. The views must be fantastic.

I, myself, would love to break into the Marmaray tunnel that will, one of these days, connect the European and Asian sides by tunnel. It would be an honor and a pleasure to talk on the bottom of the Bosphorus.

I really don’t know which would be my winner. Basilica Cisterns are easy, but I like heights, and I think a minaret would be the most tempting. I’d love to have some obscure answer: one of the many military sites on the Haliç or the Bosphorus, or maybe Beylerbeyi Sarayı or a Yeniköy yalı. I’d like to imagine there’s something in Istanbul, some double-secret vestige of the Deep State, that would be the true gem, the pearl in the 2nd Rome’s oyster.

But at the end of the day, it’s Süleymaniye. What’s yours?

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