What makes a work of art great? I feel explaining the merits of a masterpiece is anticlimactic, like explaining a joke. I’ve found that my response to any art I’ve enjoyed is an ‘aha’ feeling, an emotional resonance. If the resonance is there, all else is merely commentary. It is always easy, however, to find and list faults of imperfect and flawed works. As I’ve mentioned before, all these recent shots from Turkey are several years old. I can’t help but pick them apart now with my more experienced eye; this implies that I could do better now, which is a dubious proposition.
I’m not entirely unhappy with the lot of my Istanbul pictures. That said, they needed more editing than I’d care to admit; after you’ve cropped, adjusted contrast, and endlessly fiddled with the color, you’re left wondering if you’re just polishing a turd. As always, the final judgement lies with the reader.
This “castle” is actually a prestigious Greek school located in the Fener neighborhood of Istanbul. Its presence illustrates some unique aspects of the Greco-Turkish history of this this city. As Constantinople, it was the capital of a huge Greek empire for a thousand years. After it fell to the Turks in 1453, many Greeks stayed and continued their cultural and linguistic traditions. Ottoman rule was enlightened compared to medieval European counterparts, and cultural minorities were tolerated. Though the Red Castle itself was built in the late 19th century, the school itself dates to 1454, just a year after the Greek Byzantines’ fall.
The school, whose proper name is Phanar Greek Orthodox College, is built into a hill, and surrounded by a dense residential area. As a result, the castle alternately looms into view and disappears around corners as you approach. These shots were all taken the same clear January day.