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Turkey: Istanbul Gentrification Opens Second Front in Culture War

In Turkey these days the culture war raging between secularists and moderate Islamists grabs much of the attention. But in Istanbul, there is a second front to the culture war, one that centers on the issue of gentrification.

A focal point of Istanbul’s gentrification movement is the traditional Tophane District. The neighborhood has long been known for its conservative flavor; women are more traditionally dressed, mosque attendance is high, and despite being within five minutes’ walk of Istanbul’s main party areas, there are very few bars serving alcohol.

But at the same time, the signs of creeping change are everywhere. Most conspicuously, an increasing number of art galleries have opened in the district over the last five years -- drawn to the area by relatively cheap rents and the close proximity of the new Istanbul Modern and a converted cannonball factory, now itself a gallery space. There is a stark contrast aesthetically and financially between these new galleries and the tea-houses and shops where old-timers congregate.

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Jonathan Lewis is a freelance photojournalist based in Istanbul.

Turkey: Istanbul Gentrification Opens Second Front in Culture War

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