You won’t always know what it means, and sometimes it’s difficult to attribute a name or story to a piece, but they’re always fun to see. Istanbul has a ton of street art, and this post just scratches the surface of what’s around Turkey’s biggest city.

Exploring the street art of Istanbul - my top 20 favorites (Turkey) - Turkey -

Exploring the street art of Istanbul - my top 20 favorites (Turkey) - Turkey -

One common theme you’ll notice, at least for the pieces seen on the side of a building, is that there’s almost always a parking lot right next to them. The space has to be used in some way, after all. I wonder if the street art is a way of helping drivers remember which lot they parked their car in…

Exploring the street art of Istanbul - my top 20 favorites (Turkey) - Turkey -

Exploring the street art of Istanbul - my top 20 favorites (Turkey) - Turkey -

Not the most vibrant piece, but I do love the amount of detail stuffed into a single picture.

Exploring the street art of Istanbul - my top 20 favorites (Turkey) - Turkey -

Exploring the street art of Istanbul - my top 20 favorites (Turkey) - Turkey -

In this case, there aren’t as many details, but the colors make it stand out from the gray wall. I love the small heads intermixed with the oversized arms.

Exploring the street art of Istanbul - my top 20 favorites (Turkey) - Turkey -

Exploring the street art of Istanbul - my top 20 favorites (Turkey) - Turkey -

Painted by LONAC in 2018, the piece is called ‘Intermission’. The artist likes to do grand-scale portraits, if their Instagram is any indication.

Exploring the street art of Istanbul - my top 20 favorites (Turkey) - Turkey -

Exploring the street art of Istanbul - my top 20 favorites (Turkey) - Turkey -

Created by Pixel Pancho in 2013 and named ‘Terror’, I’d actually love to see a book made out of the story this wall is telling.

Exploring the street art of Istanbul - my top 20 favorites (Turkey) - Turkey -

Exploring the street art of Istanbul - my top 20 favorites (Turkey) - Turkey -

Oh, dear, Istanbul’s getting beamed up. Titled ‘UFO Attack’, this is a stencil by Sepex and M-City created in 2014. I love the use of a single color to portray the starkness of the situation.

Exploring the street art of Istanbul - my top 20 favorites (Turkey) - Turkey -

Exploring the street art of Istanbul - my top 20 favorites (Turkey) - Turkey -

Credit to Michael “Sepe” Wręga and Daniel “Chazme” Kalinowski, both from Poland, for their work entitled ‘Crossroad’ from 2014. Each of the four sets of characters is different, and is another one of those detailed pieces that really tells a story.

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Exploring the street art of Istanbul - my top 20 favorites (Turkey) - Turkey -

You might like...  Destination: Gdansk, Poland — see where World War II started, a church's altar made of amber, and some awesome murals

Exploring the street art of Istanbul - my top 20 favorites (Turkey) - Turkey -

From 2017, the credit reads Brot Blek Odin (TWM Crew). The internet tells me it’s entitled “Renaissance” by The Writer Material Crew.

Exploring the street art of Istanbul - my top 20 favorites (Turkey) - Turkey -

Exploring the street art of Istanbul - my top 20 favorites (Turkey) - Turkey -

From Fintan McGee comes a piece called ‘Pray for Rain’ from 2017. Per their Facebook post, It draws a connection between an Australian story and drought conditions in Australia, Turkey, and the Middle East. Climate change is real, people.

Exploring the street art of Istanbul - my top 20 favorites (Turkey) - Turkey -

Exploring the street art of Istanbul - my top 20 favorites (Turkey) - Turkey -

Pieces don’t have to be on the sides of buildings to be distinctive. Presenting Freddy Kruger by LEON.

Exploring the street art of Istanbul - my top 20 favorites (Turkey) - Turkey -

Exploring the street art of Istanbul - my top 20 favorites (Turkey) - Turkey -

Sometimes the messages people need to hear can only come from aliens.

Exploring the street art of Istanbul - my top 20 favorites (Turkey) - Turkey -

Exploring the street art of Istanbul - my top 20 favorites (Turkey) - Turkey -

Barış Manço is a pretty famous Turkish musician and was on a long-running TV show. His house is actually a museum now, complete with a life-size model of him, along with a piano, some of his stage costumes, and a whole bunch of music.

Exploring the street art of Istanbul - my top 20 favorites (Turkey) - Turkey -

Exploring the street art of Istanbul - my top 20 favorites (Turkey) - Turkey -

What’s up, Charlie Chaplin?

Exploring the street art of Istanbul - my top 20 favorites (Turkey) - Turkey -

Exploring the street art of Istanbul - my top 20 favorites (Turkey) - Turkey -

The credit reads ‘Rules’, but my Google searches didn’t turn up anything about this piece other than it might be from 2017.

Exploring the street art of Istanbul - my top 20 favorites (Turkey) - Turkey -

Exploring the street art of Istanbul - my top 20 favorites (Turkey) - Turkey -

Go ahead, eat more art. ‘ROBCO’ reads the credit, but there’s a hole where there might have been more to the story.

Exploring the street art of Istanbul - my top 20 favorites (Turkey) - Turkey -

Exploring the street art of Istanbul - my top 20 favorites (Turkey) - Turkey -

With eight names listed in the lower right corner, it’s hard to say who painted what. Still, it’s a fun collaborative piece.

Exploring the street art of Istanbul - my top 20 favorites (Turkey) - Turkey -

Exploring the street art of Istanbul - my top 20 favorites (Turkey) - Turkey -

OK, it’s not technically a painting or a stencil or a tag… but it is a reminder of just how much paint is used in the creation of the pieces you’ll see around town.

Exploring the street art of Istanbul - my top 20 favorites (Turkey) - Turkey -

Exploring the street art of Istanbul - my top 20 favorites (Turkey) - Turkey -

Exploring the street art of Istanbul - my top 20 favorites (Turkey) - Turkey -

Exploring the street art of Istanbul - my top 20 favorites (Turkey) - Turkey -

A couple of iconic performers, anyone? Audrey Hepburn and David Bowie both get a larger-than-life treatment. Created August and September 2018.

Exploring the street art of Istanbul - my top 20 favorites (Turkey) - Turkey -

Exploring the street art of Istanbul - my top 20 favorites (Turkey) - Turkey -

Next to the pair of performers is another performer of sorts…

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I’ve gotta say that I really appreciate artists that put their credit in the form of a handle – in this case, @mr.besk. Makes it so much easier to find them online.

Istanbul could definitely use a street art tour to help curious people learn more about the art around them. If you’re up for learning more on your own, there is an app for that (Street Art Istanbul), and the Donut Store (near Osmanbey metro station) sells a lot of paints.

Where can I find these pieces?

Most of the building-sized ones and some of the smaller pieces are scattered around the Kadiköy port area, on the Asian side of Istanbul. Others, like the trio of performers, are along Bağdat Caddesi, in the Bostancı part of Istanbul. Still others can be found on the side streets of Istiklal Caddesi (AKA the big walking street in the Taksim area)

Exploring the street art of Istanbul - my top 20 favorites (Turkey) - Turkey -

Exploring the street art of Istanbul - my top 20 favorites (Turkey) - Turkey -

If you’re ready for an adventure, go check out my latest itinerary 3 Days in Istanbul. Like my other itineraries, the goal here is to take you to the city’s best places, with clear directions and routes to get you from A to B to C. Learn more here.

Rather take a longer trip through Istanbul? Fellow blogger Melissa Douglas has written a great 14 day Turkey itinerary to peruse.

 

 

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