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Elena sees the Walls

Elena is the daughter of Dimitris, who left Istanbul for Athens in when holders of Greek passports were deported from the city. Dimitris talked often to his daughter of Istanbul. She was born in Athens and has lived all of her life there. Once, she travelled to Istanbul and took the tram from Atatürk Airport. When the tram passed through the ancient of Constantinople, she recognised them from her father’s stories.

I feel this through my dad [Dimitris]. But for me, it was even stronger because I had all this historical approach of the walls, and then it’s when you get to the walls, it is like that is the city, you know, that is the city! So that was… I started crying, because I feel this nostalgia through my dad, because he comes from there. So, [for me] it is two layers: [I understood the history but] it is also my personal family story. I know that [my dad] is attached to the city and I know he always wants to go back. I know his best years, his childhood, his more, like, carefree years, were spent there.

[He said] ‘Now I am going to show you my place’, and he took me to all the places. He took me to Samatya where he was born. That is the city as I saw it through my dad’s eyes. He would take me to all the places and he would tell me nice stories. So it was like everything was perfect.

I think Greek people, my dad, and my grandmother, they all have this very idealised view. I don’t know if it is – maybe a large part of it is – also true. But they always focus on the good things. Like they want to see it as something magical and idealised. Yes. In a very beautiful way.

The Land Walls seen from the tram from Atatürk Airport into the historic peninsula.