Here’s a candid shot captured at the old citadel on the peak of the hill in the center of Ankara. Turkish tourists like the one balancing on this wall come from around the country to take pictures from the top of the city with their cell phones and video cameras. Foreign tourists are less common and more likely to stay off the top of the wall, especially given the wind and total lack of any device to prevent falling some 50 or 60 feet into the castle streets below. Maintenance workers like the guy at the bottom of the picture have pretty much seen it all before.
For an American like me, this is always one of the most remarkable aspects of living in Turkey: historic places or items are always around the corner, and people walk past them, sit on them or build with them as if they were nothing out of the ordinary at all. Wandering through a village, I once saw a house made of large stones found when clearing fields – unremarkable except for the cornerstone, a piece of marble expertly carved with four or five figures in Roman garb, accompanied by an inscription in Latin, upside down and without their heads, secured by straw and mud to the rest of the structure. The walls in this picture are probably only centuries old, but they are built on a site that dates back to well before Christ. To the sweeper picking his teeth in the picture, what difference does it make? When it comes right down to it, isn’t all the world as old as the hills?