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in Greece 2011

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Istanbul: The City of Absences

Istanbul: The City of Absences



Alexandros Massavetas
photographer: Alexandros Massavetas

Patakis Publishers, 2011
668 p.
ISBN 978-960-16-4049-5, [In Print]
Price € 22,50

National Literary Prize for Chronicle - Witnessing [2012]

Istanbul: The City of Absences is a travelogue about the «other» Istanbul – the metropolis of non-Muslim minorities. A series of «walks», each in a historic district of the city, in a specific period of its history or in the past of one of its former communities, acquaints the reader with the millennial cosmopolitanism of a world city. The travels in time and space reconstruct an account of the legacy of cosmopolitanism in Byzantine and Ottoman Constantinople, while documenting its remnants in modern Istanbul. A turbulent 20th century of nationalism over the wider region and domestic strife within Turkey has made Istanbul's non-Muslim communities flee. Its legacy as a multilingual, multi-faith metropolis is now best commemorated by absences and silent traces rather than by the present inhabitants. With his promenades, Massavetas explains how this happened and joins past and present. Doing this, he escapes the temptation of sinking into sheer nostalgia and discovers the joys and magic of the existing megacity.

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