Iyi Bayramlar from Kuzguncuk

The Turkish Republic's Anniversary

By Andrew Finkel photos by Monica Fritz | October 29, 2023

The Turkish Republic turns 100 today – not just another candle on the cake, but a reliving of a moment of defiance. A nascent state claimed a very different destiny from that envisaged for it by the European powers who had defeated a weary empire at the end of the First World War. In the Istanbul seaside neighbourhood of Kuzguncuk, school children wave flags and a parade down the main street to the sound of drums and the church bells of the Greek Orthodox and the recently restored Armenian Orthodox churches.  And while in these day of tension in the Middle East, Kuzguncuk’s two synagogues are well-guarded, their proximity to two mosques is pointer on the path to reconciliation that must come. In the afternoon, the jets of the Turkish Airforce “Stars” fly in formation over a Bosphorus turned choppy by the flotilla of naval vessels that are passing by. The waterway, not just the divide between Asia and Europe but a pinch point in world history, has never been busier. In the evening there are fireworks. We are defined by how we remember the past but also how we use that memory to prepare for the future.

Kuzguncuk celebrates 100 years of the Turkish Republic with their traditional primary school march down the main street passing heavily guarded synagogues and drumming together with the church bells.

The joyful parade includes its children and parents and others who spontaneously join in. Into the evening there is dancing in the streets. Kuzguncuk is also perfectly place to watch the spectacular fireworks, the air show and the passing naval flotilla.

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