For Greek journalist Demetrios Ioannou, Istanbul was a place he was drawn to a couple of times a year, to soak up its heady atmosphere, cultural richness and architectural treats. Never did he imagine he’d see a city so full of life transform into a ghost town. Here are the photos he captured of the city’s quiet streets in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The sharp sound of a small axe chopping wood scares away a group of pigeons. Right now, they’re the only living presence in the empty park between Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, usually one of Istanbul’s most crowded places. A police guard stands nearby, wearing a cheap surgical mask. He throws the wood into a handmade heater in an attempt to keep himself warm.

It’s a cold morning in April 2020. The area would normally be flooded with people—locals and tourists—their voices blending in with the sounds of the city.

Instead, Istanbul is virtually silent.