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Apr 19
Istanbul’s Old Hans

One of Istanbul's old hans, still from video by Monique Jaques

Architectural and historical monuments of the Ottoman Era, the hans and caravansaray that freckle the old city have mostly been left to their own devices. Originally built as imposing weigh stations for incoming traders, today they are crumbling in places and patched up with duct tape in others.

These buildings are still living spaces of commerce and craftsmanship, or simply storage, a tradition which reaches back centuries. Wandering around one han which hosts a bustling trade in yarn, or visiting an Armenian silversmith in his tiny vaulted cell tapping detail into an elaborate dinner plate is a magical experience. A tray of glasses filled with piping hot tea descend two stories by a rope in the hand of the han’s expert cayci is part of the ballet that plays out every day. It’d be easy to fall for an oriental fantasy in the courtyard of the Büyük Yeni Han if it all were not so real. Which it is.

Spending some time in these lovely old buildings beckons the question: why hasn’t someone done something with this place?

Read the rest of the story and watch the video at Culinary Backstreets.

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