In spite of being only a couple hundred meters away from Taksim Square, considered Istanbul’s European side city center, Tarlabasi has nothing to see with its neighbouring districts: here there aren’t flagship stores, monuments to Ataturk’s revolution or tourist amenities. On the contrary, empty lots, run-down buildings and cracked roads are the keynote in this neighborhood.

Originally the Greek district of the city, since most Greek population left Turkey in the 1920s, Tarlabasi’s residents belong to the outskirts of the society: Kurdish, beggars, transsexuals, scrap dealers and now also Syrian refugees, make up the neighborhood population. Sheltered by Erdogan’s government policies encouraging huge building endeavors all over the country, Tarlabasi is in the center of an urban renovation process and people living here have suffered huge pressure, threats and evictions from institutions and building companies expecting to cash in a multimillion-worth business that will erase a traditional neighborhood to build modern towers housing offices, condos and chic, fashion hotels.

However, despite marginalization, bad reputation and the gentrification process coming, walking through Tarlabasi one observes a busy street life where its residents mix together every time: Children playing hide and seek next to resting old people, men sharing a çay (tea) while playing tavla (backgammon), women talking from window to window while hanging up clothes on cables crossing narrow streets…