Fer's Adventures in Turkey

Jazz Musicians in Beyoglu, Istanbul.

Entry 4: Taksim Square

6 July 2012

Every day on my way to school one of the buses I take on the trek home makes a stop at Taksim square, one of the most bustling and crowded areas of Istanbul. Today I decided to explore it further since it has had my attention for a while now. 

Taksim Square is one of the most famous attractions for visitors in the entire city. It is both a place of historical significance and a commercial hub full of all sorts of shops, restaurants, and cafes, and also serves as one of the main transportation hubs for the city’s buses. In addition, it is a popular destination for music enthusiasts.

I took a stroll down Beyoglu street behind the Monument of the Republic (the proper name of the statue in the photo) and passed a variety of clothing stores, jewelry shops, curios shops, bookstores, and even music stores. Enormous crowds of people, both tourists from around the world as well as native Istanbullus are attracted to this street due to the large mixture of things one might find here. For instance, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of street performers and live musicians who view this street as the perfect opportunity to acquire an audience. And I don’t blame them; I was really impressed with their performances.


A crowd of a decent size was gathered around this man, anxiously waiting to find out what his next move would be. Because of this he unfortunately could not pretend to be a statue and the suddenly “come to life” when least expected. But it was still entertaining to watch him interact with children (they were either fascinated by him or deathly afraid).

There was a particular shop that immediate caught my eye, and I just had to take pictures of it. Inside they sold all sorts of miscellany in all the colors of the rainbow.

It was called “Karınca”, a shop whose wares originated mostly in France according to one of the employees. I might just come back here in the future to buy a new wallet…

My favorite part about coming here (since I didn’t really do any shopping) was watching all of the different musicians play their instruments. I stopped and listened to a man play an electric sitar for a short while. I was completely fascinated as I watched the man’s swift fingers effortlessly move up and down the neck of the sitar while the other hand strummed to create a beautiful melody that served as perfect background music. I had never before listened to anything quite like it.

I also came across a group of boys playing a few different types of drums, as well as a man from Spain playing something called the bells which I had never seen or heard before. It reminded me a bit of the Jamaican steel drum, except it was made up of two parts and was hollow inside. I stuck around for a few minutes to listen to him play (see link below).


After walking around some more and having delicious ice cream at Mado, one of Istanbul’s most famous sweet cafes, the sound of trumpets, trombones, and percussion coming from outside immediately caught my attention, so I went to find the source. A jazz band from the USA was marching down the street playing their instruments as immense crowds of passersby gathered around them to enjoy the music. I managed to catch some footage myself (see video post titled ‘Jazz Musicians in Beyoglu, Istanbul; will be up very soon).

The music left me (and apparently the rest of the crowd as well) in very good spirits.

By the time I finished listening to the jazz musicians it was time to call it a day. I took one last photograph of Taksim Square before heading back home.

Until we meet again.

10 plays

Here’s a sneak peek of what I’ll be writing about tomorrow. I bought a CD from one of Beyoglu street’s musicians and this is the first track, which features the instrument he plays (he called it the “bells”). It’s a very beautiful sound I think.