“Finally we didn’t have a place to go, so we just danced outside. […] We grew up in the Romani neighbourhood, in the Romani culture.”
Sulukule (literally: “Water tower”) is a historic settlement in the Fatih district of Istanbul, Turkey. It is an area within the area of Istanbul’s historic peninsula, adjacent to the western part of the city walls, historically occupied by Romani communities. Roma presence in this part of Istanbul dates back to Byzantine times, while it is in the 15th century, upon Ottoman conquest, that the quarter became (reportedly) the first district in the world permanently settled by sedentary Roma. The Romani people originate from Northern India such as the Indian states of Rajasthan and Punjab.
Sulukule was always notable for its entertainment houses, where the Romani performed music and dance to the visitors from in and outside Istanbul. The closure of these entertainment houses in 1992 precipitated serious socio-economic decline in the area.