Once a year the Mural Istanbul Festival invites both local and international street artists to put up huge murals on the side of buildings, transforming the neighbourhood of Kadikoy into an outdoor street art gallery. What was great about this festival is that it brought me out to explore parts of the neighbourhood that I have never been to before with the added surprise of seeing the street art for the first time.
There is something liberating in street art – not only for the artist but also for the viewer. It challenges expectations and forces you to see the environment in which it is displayed in a whole new way. Where buildings and streets were once grey and drab, they are brought to life with vivid colour and imagination. It is like being in a whole new place. And then there is the ambiguity of some of the pieces that allow your thoughts to wonder, bringing in new sparks of inspiration. At least for me.
Street art can be found virtually everywhere in Istanbul. On the European side, some of the more creative designs can be seen in the neighbourhoods of Taksim, Sishane and Karakoy. On the Asian side, you want to head to the districts of Kadikoy and Moda – two of my favourite districts to get away from the tourists and as well for good coffee. There is even a Street Art Istanbul app that you can use as your guide and that will keep you updated with the current street art pieces in Istanbul.