1. What makes you happy in this city?

Local

Istanbul, with its beautiful parks, the dazzling Bosphorus, ferry rides, cafés and restaurants–located anywhere from the top of a hill to by the sea–, hundreds of night clubs, and tourist sights, is the perfect place for meeting up with friends and also for meeting people from all over the world. Istanbul facilitates the connection between different nations, cultures, architecture, cuisine, and anything else you could think of. She is a city who will always introduce you to new things. Sometimes she will be shy, wearing a veil, and sometimes she will surprise you with her boldness.

Visitor

Istanbul is a jumble of past and present civilizations. It had served as capital for three empires: Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman. Golden Horn, the old port of the city, is where these civilizations are most visible. Byzantine walls and Ottoman mosques sit side by side. It is my favorite place to rest after a tiring day of Istanbul’s hustle and bustle, have a cup of Turkish tea, and read at sunset.

2. WHAT INSPIRES YOU IN THIS CITY?

Local

The melancholy of the winter and the liveliness of the summer. The solitude and the noise. Long walks by the seaside, beautiful sunsets. The Bosphorus, the people, the ferries, the light, the food, friends and family. And everything else the city has to offer.

Visitor

With over 12 million inhabitants, Istanbul is the most populated city in Europe. It is incredible that so many people can live together in this mess and chaos. But such a great harmony of life draws you in; silently, this pot melts different cultures and ethnicities together. Strolling around like a “flâneur” and observing the layers of life is the most inspiring thing to do here.

3. WHAT WORKS FOR YOU VERY WELL IN THE CITY?

Local

Istanbul’s population is estimated to be around 15 million. That means there are a lot of different people. Some who may possibly surprise or upset you, make you happy or sad. Both the chaos and the crowd, the strangers and the locals, will always give you a story to tell. It is impossible to come back home without an experience to remember. The city is always alive and will haunt you with her dangers and beauties. And it is very hard to turn your back on her, she is like an impatient and jealous lover who will be stubborn and follow you wherever you go.

Visitor

If I had to describe Istanbul in one word, it would be “sea”. In my mind, Istanbul is so bound up with the sea. It is the only city in the world situated on two continents, straddling the Bosporus, both in Europe and Asia. Taking a ferry is the easiest and quickest way to reach the other side and maybe on of the most pleasant journey on the globe.

4. WHAT WOULD YOU DO BETTER?

Local

Though Istanbul is surrounded by water, due to the sea traffic and the country’s poor environmental policies, central Istanbul does not offer any beaches for people to enjoy the sea and the sun. I would try to create beaches by cleaning the water and protecting nature.

Visitor

Istanbul is definitely overpopulated. In the last 50 years constant migration has become the norm, and this city has turned into a concrete pool surrounded by highways. Sometimes these roads cut the city like a slice of cake. This unfriendly, car-oriented transportation structure makes life much harder. There should be a wider rail system, covering the entire city and region.

5. HOW WOULD YOU DO IT BETTER?

Local

Istanbul’s poor city planning and the terrible projects realized in recent years have interrupted pedestrian life. New roads are being carved out in hopes of solving the city’s traffic problems, but planners have ignored the fact that the individual, the pedestrian, is having difficulty simply finding sidewalks. Istanbul needs wider spaces for people to walk, places made for the individual, so he can say, “This space is my own.”

Visitor

Though the city is surrounded by the sea, it is hard to believe that in the 1950’s Istanbul was packed with beaches. The entire coastline was trimmed with elegant, sandy strips on both the European and Asian sides, the latter being slightly more beloved. They have since vanished in the pollution from the city’s booming population, now numbering 12 million. There are signs that things are getting better. Some beaches have been restored in the last few years, and regulations have been enacted to protect the waters. I hope that one day the sea will be able to heal itself and that my dream of swimming by the Byzantine places and Ottoman mosques will become a reality.