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Abstract

This paper examines from a culturalist viewpoint Istanbul's contribution to the diversification of cultures and ethnic identities of the Republic of Turkey. The city's wealth lies in its reservoir of cultures, multiplicity of civilizations, languages and religions which are lively, highly operational and versatile. Istanbul, the city of cultures, has been traditionally recognized with its embodiment of continuous amalgamation and ethnic toleration. At Ortaköy and Boyaciköy, an Armenian Catholic church, a Gregorian church, two Greek churches, two synagogues and two mosques stand side by side, in close proximity to each other. In Üsküdar's Kuzguncuk (previously Kozinitza) an Armenian church rises near a synagogue. Right across the street a Greek Orthodox church stands next to a mosque. Not far from these structures' there is an old Jewish cemetery. Besides Balat on the European side, Kuzguncuk was once recognized as a long-established Jewish town on Istanbul's Anatolian side. Such neighborhoods in Istanbul are reminders of a collective epic memory generating a deeply-rooted historical experience in the life of a city which has traditionally served to a diverse population. Almost every district in Istanbul suggests a harmonious co-existence among peoples of different ethnic origins and religions who can communicate with each other in Turkish. Thus it is proper to state that Istanbul sits at the crossroads of cultures, namely the East and the West, and the city itself does not mind which side she actually belongs to.

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