ARCHITECTURE / istanbulogy / April 30, 2013

Camondo Stairs of Galata

camondostairs    kamondo5

 

When Henri-Cartier Bresson photographed the Camondo steps of Galata it was 1965 -a century after it was commissioned by the banker Camondo family. His photo is, unfortunately, not one of his iconic and flattering stair photos. Still, it occupies a special place in the heart of Istanbullites; rarely would you find it empty to make a picture of yourself here. After half a century of dilapidation and neglect, the revamp going on the area gives the stairs a breath of life it well deserves. How dare do I put my photo next to Bresson’s? 

This is the city of hills. Don’t be mistaken by the legend of the seven hills; seven of them are within the historical peninsula. So  there are numerous stairways gracing Istanbul. Yet, this one is definitely the most impressive landmark in the area. It provides a shortcut from Bankalar caddesi, our Wall Street, to the Galata Tower on the north of the Golden Horn. The Camondo Family of Sephardic Jewish origin, the leading entrepreneurs of the 19th century in banking, were also involved in charity works, including a modern western primary school and a theater. Abraham Camondo, the first foreigner to own an estate in the Ottoman Empire, was wealthy enough to support the state financially during the Crimean War with Russia. In the late 19th century, the family moved to Paris, where today you could visit their family estate turned into a decorative arts museum by the family itself before the last members of the family died in the Auschwitz.

 

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Tags:  Camondo Steps city icons Crimean war Galata Galata Tower Henri Cartier Bresson Jewish heritage museum Paris photographers photography Russia steps




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