Note: I wrote this last week when we were still in Istanbul.
At the Yedikule (Seven Towers) Fortress in Istanbul, there are no handrails, bars, or any sort of security precautions. You pay five lira at a ticket office in the main gate, walk into the central plaza of the citadel, and have free reign.
You may stay in the courtyard and check out the unbelievably huge stone cannonballs. Or, if you like, you may huff it up some precarious, precipitous stone steps up into the ramparts and be rewarded by a gorgeous view of the city and Marmara Sea, whose horizon is perpetually dotted with lazy oil tankers. You can even explore the turrets and awesome dungeon tower. Overall, the Yedikule was a refreshing break from the crowds, dress codes, lines, barricades, rules, and “under renovation” signs circumscribing the various religious and historical sites where we spent most of our Istanbul days.
I guess by now I should have accepted that, in a society, we routinely give up the visceral parts of life for the sake of security, preservation of the artifacts, and greater social good. But I still miss the youthful thrill of intransigence–exploring a graveyard past dark, sprinting wildly through museum corridors, dangling feet out the door of a train, eating a forbidden pear. The jouissance of breaking the rules.
Yedikule distinctly reminded me of that feeling.
We also noticed some horses and a group of men dressed in 16th-century Ottoman era attire. It was a little bit bizarre. Turns out they were filming a documentary about Mimar Sinan, the great architect of Sulemaniye Mosque and many other fantastic buildings throughout the Ottoman empire.
If you’re interested, you may read a history of the Fortress of the Seven Towers here.