There are two sides to Istanbul.
Literally, the city sprawls across two continents - Europe and Asia.
But it's also a place where you can see fancy Ottoman mansions located along the Bosphorus and urban shopping malls as well as the occasional chicken running across the street in Vefa or Arnavutköy.
You don't have to go far to see signs of rural life in the city.
Located near the ruins of Yedikule Hisarı and following the Byzantine-era stone walls are small vegetable gardens and well organized fields of green onions, spinach, lettuce and more.
|A man tends to his field of spinach near the Byzantine walls in Istanbul.|
These gardens flourish between the city's crumbling land walls and the modern paved road on the other side. From what I understand, the gardens were once some of the main agricultural fields of Old Istanbul and established after the Ottomans filled in the former defense ditches and cisterns with soil.
Now, the locals rent these narrow fertile strips of land from the government and have established what looks like gecekondular (ramshackle houses built overnight without permits). Families, even with small children, live and farm here.
|Well organized plots, plus a small nursery growing trees.|
|This was one of the more extensive vegetable stands set up near the walls.|
As you walk by the walls, you'll notice men and women tending to the gardens as well as small market stands set up on the sidewalks selling their beautiful produce. I have to assume they sell the vegetables to make a little money and use the rest for their own consumption.
|I mean just look at the veggies here! Several people even had plastic cold frames set up to start their vegetable seedlings when the weather was still cold.|
|I don't even like radishes, but these looked so colorful and tempting.|
|Bundled green onions, spinach and chard for sale.|
Istanbul is full of paradoxes....And this is one of the best places to see the ancient walls of Istanbul and traditional farming techniques at the same time.
Just take the suburban train from Sirkeci to Yedikule and in about 20 minutes, you'll find yourself walking amongst this different world.
|Traditional Turkish women harvesting radishes by the armfuls.|