Since the 90’s, Turkey’s street art has been struggling to become more commonplace and, in particular, the Gezi Protests of 2013 caused an explosion in popularity resulting in very successful examples of street art in almost every metropolis street today. One can come across many beautiful pieces of street art or graffiti in many of the metropol centers such as Istanbul’s Taksim, Besiktas, Kadikoy, Sisli to Ankara’s Kizilay, Tunali Hilmi and Izmir’s Alsancak and Bornova. For this kind of art expression, Gezi brought with it such a boom in popularity that last year the Pera Museum in Istanbul held a graffiti and street art exhibition last year called “The Language of Walls”, with participation from 20 world renowned artists from the USA, Germany, France, Japan and Turkey. The artwork exhibited at the show and interviews conducted with the artists can be viewed online at this address. An increase in interest towards street art and grafitti proves that there will be many more of these artistic events.
If you are planning a vacation in Istanbul, then the first place to go for street art is Istiklal Street in Taksim. It is a well-known street which leads directly out to Taksim, which is Istanbul’s unrivalled major city centre. There are quite a few amazing examples of art to see in the street and it’s adjacent side-streets. You’ll be awestruck by the colourful surprises awaiting you in the streets leading off from the Galatasaray High School end of Istiklal which leads all the way down to the Kabatas seafront. The breathtaking historical streets from Tunel to Karakoy have some great street art on old walls which tacitly accompany passers-by as they walk along. After coming down to Karakoy, you should walk towards the Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts to see the street art created by its students.
Kadikoy is one of the city’s finest districts and there are many amazing pieces of street art to see both in the town centre and along the coastal road leading to Moda, famous for its seafront tea-gardens. Kadikoy’s Yeldegirmeni district became a popular place for artists especially after the Gezi events and has some beautiful street art. The art form has the full support of the Kadikoy Municipality and they organised the Mural-Ist Festival for this summer to celebrate street art. The festival will begin on June 11th and last until the autumn, making it a must-see artistic event for summer tourists in Istanbul. The festival finale will be the Yel-degirmeni (Windmill) Street Art Festival between 24 and 30 September. You can find out more about the festival from the Kadikoy Municipality’s webpage dedicated to the Yel-degirmeni District Revival Project.
The street art and grafitti you can enjoy in Turkey’s metropolis streets have been created by both local and foreign artists spanning days of hard work and creativity. You will have the chance to see work by famous global grafitti artists such as Kripoe, 1UP, Pixel Pancho, Dome and Amose. Local artists include Leo Lunatic, Mr. Hure, Nuka, Esk Reyn and Turkey’s first Turbo (Tunç Dindaş). Their brilliant work brightens up the day of both local citizens and tourists alike. If you are interested in street and grafitti, then it would be a good idea to allocate a few days in Istanbul just to visit these locations. There are so many to see, and you will be awestruck by their sheer ingenuity that a short tour will be insufficient.