March 31, 2011

A Culture's History Written in Thread

ISTANBUL — It began with a question 13 years ago from the owner of a shop in the Grand Bazaar. The answer has led two American researchers to conduct the first detailed study of rarely seen sacred treasures belonging to the Armenian Patriarchate of Istanbul and to the creation of an underground museum to house the priceless artifacts.

In their 397-page book, “Splendor & Pageantry: Textile Treasures from the Orthodox Churches of Istanbul,” Ronald T. Marchese, Marlene R. Breu and the Armenian Patriarchate expand what little was known about the unheralded role of women in the church and colorfully record the skills of women artisans who stitched their devotion onto luscious silks and velvets.

The objects they studied, some more than 300 years old, include sumptuously embroidered liturgical vestments, silk altar curtains, velvet copes decorated with gold or silver threads and pearl-encrusted miters, gathered from churches that served the Armenian population. Common embroidery motifs included stars, birds, vine leaves and angels, their faces sometimes sewn using human hair.

The museum itself houses such textiles as well as paintings and objects of precious metals from Armenian churches throughout Turkey which can be viewed, by appointment only, in the basement museum of the patriarchate in the humble Kumkapi neighborhood of Istanbul. The museum, created with donations from local Armenians and the European Capital of Culture 2010 organization, sits atop centuries-old ruins, discovered during renovations after the 1999 earthquake, that have since become a chapel.

Read more on The New York Times: A Culture's History Written in Thread

Turkey to Start Istanbul Diamond Exchange

The Istanbul Gold Exchange will allow trading of diamonds and other precious stones beginning April 4, aiming to make Istanbul one of the world’s diamond- trade centers, Aksam newspaper reported.

The diamond market has the potential to generate $3 billion of trading on the exchange, Aksam said, quoting an interview with Osman Sarac, deputy chief of the IGE.

Strugala to conduct Istanbul Symphony Orchestra at CKM

World-famous Polish conductor Tadeusz Strugala will be the guest conductor at this week’s concert by the Istanbul State Symphony Orchestra (IDSO).

Strugala, who appeared in Roman Polanski’s critically acclaimed film “The Pianist,” will conduct the IDSO in a program made up of well-known overtures, concertos and symphonies by Mozart, Rachmaninoff and Haydn in the concert, which will feature pianist Verda Erman as soloist. The concert is on Thursday at 8 p.m. at the Caddebostan Cultural Center (CKM) in Kadıköy.

Read more on Today's Zaman: Strugala to conduct Istanbul symphony orchestra at CKM

March 30, 2011

Rolex Farr 40 World Championship

Rolex Farr 40 World Championship 2011 - Sydney Australia and the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron really turned it on to make the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship 2011 a fantastic event that was hard fought right to the finish line of the last race.

Based on popular demand we are scheduling two events for Istanbul and eliminating the Palma event and have published the new updated 2011 international calendar of events which will be on the web site this week.

Read more on Sail-World: Rolex Farr 40 World Championship

Istanbul hosts prestigious Rachmaninoff piano competition

This evening marks the opening reception of a prestigious international Sergei Rachmaninoff piano competition, which will be held in the historic 19th-century neo-Renaissance Russian Embassy building in Istanbul’s Beyoğlu district.

A triennial event first held in Moscow in 2002, Turkey has been chosen to host the 2011 competition in an effort to encourage young Turkish musicians and also broaden cultural relations between Turkey and Russia.

The three-day event, coinciding with the anniversary of the birth of Rachmaninoff, the Russian composer widely considered to be one of the last great representatives of Romanticism in Russian classical music, is a joint project between Turkey’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Association for Business and Friendship Between the Russian Federation and Turkey (RUTİD).

Aleksandr Sokolov, a former Russian culture minister and rector of the Moscow P.I. Tchaikovsky Conservatory, and Turkish Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay, both of whom have been integral in initiating the competition, will be in attendance at the opening of the event.

Günay will then host a dinner in honor of the members of the star-studded panel of judges comprising a range of prominent Turkish and Russian musicians. The panel will be headed by 93-year-old internationally acclaimed pianist Professor Victor Merzhanov, who extended his best wishes to the finalists in a written statement, urging them to seize this valuable opportunity to exercise their creativity to the maximum.

In an address to the young finalists, competition director and professor at the Anadolu University State Conservatory, Amine Aygistova, described the opportunity to play in front of the panel of renowned international musicians as a “once in a lifetime occasion,” urging the young performers to make the most of the event to leave what she hopes will be “a bright mark on Turkish musical history.”

Read more on Today's Zaman: Istanbul hosts prestigious Rachmaninoff piano competition

What happened to Osmanbey?

The Istanbul district of Osmanbey was known in the past for being the location to buy quality goods. In fact, at one time, it was the very best shopping spot for women in the city.

Over the years, though, women began to flock to a variety of different shopping spots, while merchants turned their sights on outside markets. In fact, there is really only one thing that hasn’t changed about Osmanbey over the years, and that is the quality of the goods you can purchase there.

A group of young girls shower Neriman Teyze, a woman in her 80s, with compliments. After all, her outfit is both chic and understated in a manner that really strikes the eye. As for Neriman Teyze, her response to all this is clear and simple, “Everything I’m wearing is left over from when I was a young girl; they are all articles of clothing from Osmanbey.”

Even though people nowadays might not be aware of it, the fact is, doing one’s shopping in Osmanbey did not used to be something within reach of everyone. Dressing in clothes from Osmanbey used to distinguish the wearer from others. In those days, when you had purchased a piece of clothing from Osmanbey, it meant you had gotten yourself an heirloom. For years on end, Osmanbey was the place in Istanbul to find the most chic, the highest quality and, in fact, the most expensive clothing.

Actually, Osmanbey’s story stretches back to the 1960s and the Mudo store. Young businessman Mustafa Taviloğlu and a partner had opened up a store in Taksim. But after a while there, they moved their new store to Osmanbey. In fact, as the district began to develop, it didn’t take Mudo long to open up another branch. In those years, many non-Muslims lived in Osmanbey, and as the district developed it also suddenly became the most desired location for the textile market.

Throughout the ‘60s, ‘70s and even the ‘80s, Osmanbey saw the intense interest and attention that malls such as Kanyon and İstinyePark do today. Not much in the way of advertising or even effort was necessary to promote Osmanbey’s popularity; the enduring quality of the goods one could buy there did this all on their own.

Read more on Today's Zaman: What happened to Osmanbey?

Rezidor announces the Radisson Blu Hotel, Istanbul Sisli

- The Rezidor Hotel Group, one of the fastest growing hotel companies worldwide, announces the Radisson Blu Hotel, Istanbul Sisli. The new built 305-room property is scheduled to welcome the first guests in Q3 2012.

“This business and leisure hotel is our 4th property in operation and under development in greater Istanbul and brings our total number of rooms to almost 1,000. This clearly underlines how strategically important the Istanbul market is for our company”, said Kurt Ritter, President & CEO of Rezidor. Rezidor already operates the Radisson Blu Bosphorus Hotel in the city centre and the Radisson Blu Conference & Airport Hotel near Istanbul, and has the Radisson Blu Hotel, Istanbul Asia under development.

Istanbul is a true cultural capital: In its long and illustrious history, it has served as the capital city of the Roman Empire, the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, the Latin Empire, and the Ottoman Empire. The architectural and cultural legacies of these fallen empires remain, as the city was chosen as joint European Capital of Culture for 2010. The upmarket Sisli district is known for its grand avenues and modern commercial offices. It is also home to Istanbul Cevahir Shopping and Entertainment Centre, which is the largest shopping centre in Europe and among the largest in the world.

Read more on The Financial: Rezidor announces the Radisson Blu Hotel, Istanbul Sisli

Hilton opens Doubletree on Istanbul's Asian side

Hilton Worldwide announced the opening of its new five-star Turkish city hotel, Doubletree by Hilton Istanbul-Moda, in the Moda neighborhood on the Asian side of Istanbul.

The hotel is the first five-star hotel on the city’s Asian side, according to a press release from the company. Emrullah Turanlı, chairman of the hotel’s investor Taşyapı Construction, said the hotel was an 80 million-euro investment and was the first link in a chain the company plans to invest in. “In addition to this one we will have a total of six hotel investments in Turkey and abroad.”

He said in the press release that they considered making a 600 million-euro investment in Turkish tourism on the whole.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Hilton opens Doubletree on Istanbul's Asian side

March 29, 2011

De la Rosa to test Pirellis in Istanbul, Turkey

McLaren reserve driver Pedro de la Rosa will test Pirelli tyres in a special test in Turkey planned for next weekend.

De la Rosa was the Pirelli test driver towards the end of last season and over the winter, but having since resigned for McLaren it appeared that he would be unable to continue in the role. However, Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembrey said that McLaren had allowed him to participate, and that so far there had been no objections from any of the other teams.

A test in Turkey is important for Pirelli as the track is notoriously hard on tyres, especially the multi-apex turn eight. Having previously said that they plan to develop an 'extra-hard' compound for this year's race, Hembrey also said that they want to check the tyres will hold up, as well as developing compounds for future years.

"The test is about working primarily for 2012, and we are working on new products too. It is also a check for us for Turkey because Turns 8 and 9 at Istanbul are a big challenge. I am not talking compound but structurally. We want to go there and have a double check to be sure."

Penn State Offers US Law Summer Program in Istanbul

Penn State University Dickinson School of Law is offering a four-week Intensive Introduction to American Law in Istanbul, Turkey during July 2-29.

The program is designed for lawyers and business executives, and will provide "an overview of American law as it operates in the global business environment."

The certificate program includes eight different classes taught by Penn State faculty over two, two-week semesters. Program participants who subsequently enroll in Penn State’s LL.M. program will receive a full credit of their $4,200 summer program tuition toward their Penn State Law LL.M.

Read more on LLM GUIDE: Penn State Offers US Law Summer Program in Istanbul
Visit program website: Intensive Introduction to American Law in Istanbul

8,000-year-old remains of early Anatolians discovered in Istanbul

Two skeletons dating back 8,500 years, making them the oldest ever found in what is now Turkey, have been discovered during archaeological excavations in Istanbul’s Yenikapı area.

“Such remains have not been discovered during the excavation before; these are the oldest graves in Anatolia,” said Dr. Yasemin Yılmaz, an expert on anthropology and prehistory, who expressed excitement about the find.

According to Yılmaz, the use of wooden blocks – preserved to this day – to cover the coffins makes them distinctive from other finds.

Since the excavations around Yenikapı, the site of the ongoing construction on the Marmaray tunnel underneath the Marmara Sea, started in 2004, many shipwrecks, amphoras, cemeteries and around 40,000 artifacts have been uncovered in the area.

Several archaeologists have collaborated with some 200 workers to carefully excavate a 60,000-square-meter area where many traces of human history have been discovered 16 meters belowground and nine meters below sea level. The two ancient coffins were found 40 days ago but only revealed recently by the excavation team.

“Istanbul is said to have a 2,500-year-old history. With the Marmaray excavations, we have revealed that Istanbul has an 8,000-year-old history,” Çömlekçi said. “This is the biggest open-air excavation. There is no such research in any other place. The artifacts being found here illustrate the richness of the history of Istanbul and Anatolia.”

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: 8,000-year-old remains of early Anatolians discovered in Istanbul

Beautiful Istanbul Timescape by Raif Kurt

I just run into this video on Facebook. It is beautiful and elegant. It also has the ability to take you to Istanbul in an instant. Gently caressing your face with the morning breeze straight from the Bosphorus itself, this timescape will take you to a journey in space and time.

To see more of Raif's work visit: 

March 28, 2011

At Istanbul Festival, Foreign and Homegrown Films

On April 2, the curtain rises on the 30th annual Istanbul Film Festival, offering two weeks of nearly nonstop screenings of Hollywood blockbusters, Oscar winners and international box office hits at seven theaters around town. But for visitors, the festival is also a rare chance to see Turkish films with English subtitles.

This year, to celebrate the milestone, the festival is looking back over three decades of classic films, while also casting an eye forward toward who might be the cinematic forces of tomorrow, including, its sponsors hope, some from Turkey.

Organizers have divided the 231 participating films into 21 chapters with titles like “Human Rights,” “Documentaries” and “Young Masters,” as well as “30 Years in Film.” For that series, 20 new-generation Turkish filmmakers who credit this festival as inspiring them to make movies, have each chosen a film they first saw here, said the festival director, Azize Tan. It’s a chance to see classics like Ingmar Bergman’s ‘‘Wild Strawberries’’ and ‘‘8 1/2’’ by Federico Fellini along with more recent titles from Jim Jarmusch (‘‘Stranger than Paradise’’) and Derek Jarman (‘‘Blue’’).

Each of the 20 Turkish directors has also written an essay about the movie he or she nominated that will become part of a commemorative book, along with photos of the directors at Istanbul movie houses that will be on display in the Atlas arcade on Istiklal Caddesi.

Read more on The New York Times: At Istanbul Festival, Foreign and Homegrown Films

Shopping fest leads to extended museum visiting hours in Istanbul

The Culture and Tourism Ministry has announced an early shift to a summer schedule in Istanbul’s museum visiting hours to coincide with the ongoing İstanbul Shopping Fest 2011, news agencies reported last week.

Officials from the ministry explained that visiting hours for state-run museums in the city were extended to 7 p.m. so that tourists, both foreign and Turkish, coming to İstanbul for the festival would be able to make the most of “the cultural richness that the city has to offer.” State-run museums in Turkey normally run on winter/summer schedule and accordingly, visiting hours are usually longer during summer months.

Murat Usta, director of the Culture Ministry Circulating Capital Enterprises Center (DÖSİMM), told the Anatolia news agency that the festival was not merely focused on shopping. “Concerts, music events, fashion shows, street displays, children’s activities and competitions all feature as part of the festival program,” Usta said.

The Istanbul Shopping Fest 2011 continues until April 26.

Read more on Today's Zaman: Shopping fest leads to extended museum visiting hours in Istanbul

Exhibit deals with relationship between nature and technology

Istanbul Modern welcomed a new exhibition on Friday addressing the relationship between art, nature and technology. The exhibition, titled “Paradise Lost,” consists of digital media and video works. Included in the show are 21 artists and a joint project who take into consideration subjects related to nature and examine the impact of industry and technology on the environment.

The title of the exhibition is from John Milton’s poem about Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden and the stigma of original sin. The common point in the works in the exhibition is “the sense of loss of primal innocence, and the feeling that nature is at odds with civilization.”

These days, when we confront the consequences of the earthquake and nuclear disaster in Japan, “Paradise Lost” invites people to ponder the future through the visual arts.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Exhibit deals with relationship between nature and technology

It's time for nature's greatest explosions

The metaphor of a spring emerging from a cold winter and the ephemeral nature of beauty and life have always had a particular resonance for poets, artists, dreamers, spiritual sorts, nature lovers and even politicians.

Over the past century, Japan has sent tens of thousands of flowering ambassadors around the world, creating gardens of cherry-blossom peace and beauty that bloom every spring in unlikely places like Newark, Toronto, Philadelphia, Macon, Ga., and Istanbul.

Read more on Salon: It's time for nature's greatest explosions

March 27, 2011

Lights out on Bosphorus Bridge marks Earth Hour transition into Europe

Lights going out on Istanbul’s Bosphorus Bridge was a fitting way to mark Earth Hour’s transition from Asia to Europe.

The symbolic action of turning lights out for an hour in an expression of concern for the environment is in the process of being officially observed in thousands of communities across 134 countries and territories on all continents.

In Turkey, one of only a few countries to straddle 2 continents, the lights had earlier been switched off in capital Ankara’s Opera House. WWF-Turkey enlisted 250 businesses and corporations and 2,000 online supporters to support its Earth Hour efforts.

The CEO of WWF-Turkey Tolga Bastak, made his Earth Hour press speech while the lights of the Bosphorus Bridge were going dark.

“This year, the lights are going off for a different cause,” Bastak said, “we put great pressure on the natural resources of our planet and our ecological footprint exceeds the biological capacity by 50 per cent.

“If we continue living and consuming as usual, we would need two planets by 2030 and 2.8 planets by 2050. It is getting harder and more difficult each day to survive in our ‘global home’. We should try living in the resources that the planet supplies and respect the limits of one planet.

“Today, we ask everyone to take this opportunity to question how they can contribute to a living planet by making small changes in their lifetsyles and habits.”

Read more on WWF: Lights out on Bosphorus Bridge marks Earth Hour transition into Europe

New Chief of Ecumenical Patriarchate Declared Yesterday

Yesterday Mr. Pantelis Vingas, President of the Community of Neochori and representative of minority institutions in the General Directorate of Vakoufia, Ankara, was declared “Chief of the Great Church of Christ”, by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.

After the service held in the church of the Annunciation in Vafeochori, Bosporus, there was a special ordination ceremony during which Patriarch Bartholomew handed the emblems over to the new “chief”. He noted his important role to the revival of Greek elements in Istanbul.

The ceremony was attended by many Greeks of the area and former chiefs, like Evangelos Chronis. Talking to the historic community of Vafeochori, the Patriarch referred to the “cultural” activity of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which he separates from its religious mission. He underlined that this activity has been unfairly judged in a negative way. For example, when historian Konstantinos Paparigopoulos said that the Patriarchate didn’t “Hellenize” the populations of the empire that were “Christianized”. “We are proud of Patriarchate’s sensibility over each people’s personality”, the Patriarch said.

Read more on Greek Reporter: New Chief of Ecumenical Patriarchate Declared Yesterday

“Istanbul, The Eternal Capital” Photo Exhibition Launches

A photo exhibition by Tasos Venetsanopoulos, titled “Istanbul, The Eternal Capital”, was inaugurated yesterday by President of Anadolu Education and Culture Foundation, Mr. Osman Kavala, at Cezayir Meeting Hall, Galatasaray, Istanbul.

In his black and white photos, Mr. Venetsanopoulos tried to snap Istanbul’s daily life and belaud its incomparable glory. The exhibition takes place until the 25th of April. His photos were also published by EURASIA editions in a photo album in Greek, Turkish and English.

Read more on Greek Reporter: “Istanbul, The Eternal Capital” Photo Exhibition Launches

The Ritz-Carlton Istanbul and Harvey Nichols join forces for shopping fest

The annual “Istanbul Shopping Fest” is being held between March 18 and April 26 this year and the Ritz-Carlton Istanbul and Harvey Nichols have put together a special shopping package to support the event.

The Ritz-Carlton/Harvey Nichols package includes massage and care at the hotel’s spa at a reduced price, free makeup at Harvey Nichols, special styling and many other services.

The package is available on weekends and includes accommodation for two in a Bosphorus-view room; open-buffet breakfast for two in the Cintemani Restaurant; use of the Fitness Center and sauna; massage, hamam, skin care and body care at a 20-percent reduction at the spa; a 15-percent reduction in textiles and gift items and one evening tea for two in the Lobby Lounge.

For participating customers, the package also includes the “Harvey Nichols Cab,” which features pickup from the hotel, food and drink at “personal shopping” sections and shopping package delivery. Free makeup service will also be offered at Harvey Nichols’ cosmetic department by appointment.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: The Ritz-Carlton Istanbul and Harvey Nichols join forces for shopping fest

March 26, 2011

Earth Hour Istanbul

Bosphorus Bridge

Levent - Sabanci Center& Is Bank

Akaretler - W Hotel

March 25, 2011

Key Istanbul synagogue marks 60 years of celebrations, tragedies

The most important synagogue for Turkey’s Jewish community, a building that was targeted by deadly terrorist attacks in 1986 and 2003, marked its 60th anniversary Friday.

Located in Istanbul’s Galata neighborhood, Neve Shalom – whose name means “Peace Oasis” in English – has hosted many Jewish weddings and other celebrations, as well as funerals and cultural events, since it opened March 25, 1951.

The Galata/Şişhane area where Neve Shalom is located has been home to many of Istanbul’s Jews since Ottoman times. Jews lived in the city when Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II conquered Istanbul, but their population was relatively low, as was the number of temples and synagogues. As the Ottoman state embraced Jews who escaped from the inquisition in Spain in the 15th century, the Jewish population increased.

Another increase in the area’s Jewish population in the first half of the 20th century led to the building of Neve Shalom.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Key Istanbul synagogue marks 60 years of celebrations, tragedies

Stamboul Twilight supports Earth Hour 2011

Earth Hour is a global initiative in partnership with WWF. Every year individuals, businesses, governments and communities are invited to turn out their lights for one hour to show their support for environmentally sustainable action.

The event began in Sydney in 2007, through a partnership between WWF Australia, Leo Burnett and Fairfax Media, when 2 million people in one city switched off their lights. By 2010, Earth Hour had created history as the largest voluntary action ever witnessed with participation across 128 countries and territories and every continent, including the world’s most recognized man-made marvels and natural wonders in a landmark environmental action.

“Use 60 minutes of darkness to help the world see the light,” urges Ban Ki-moon

Earth Hour 2011 will take place at 8.30pm, Saturday, 26 March, 2011.

Google celebrates the 400th anniversary of the birth of Evliya Çelebi

Google celebrates the 400th anniversary of the birth of Ottoman travel writer extraordinaire Evliya Çelebi on its Turkish homepage.

Evliya Çelebi was born in Istanbul in 1611 to a family from Kütahya. Coming from a wealthy family, he received an excellent education. He began his travels in Istanbul, taking notes on buildings, markets, customs and culture; in 1640, he started his first journey outside the city. 

His collection of notes from all of his travels formed a ten-volume work called the Seyahatname (Book of Travels). He died sometime after 1682; it is unclear whether he was in Istanbul or Cairo at the time. (Source: Wikipedia)

Istanbul Modern presents ‘Paradise Lost’

Today marks the official opening of the “Paradise Lost” exhibition at the Tophane-based contemporary art museum, İstanbul Modern. Co-curated by Paolo Colombo and Levent Çalıkoğlu, the exhibition invites visitors to consider the future through the medium of video and digital arts, exploring the ways in which 21 internationally acclaimed contemporary artists address a range of topical issues related to nature and technology, and the major ecological changes that have affected the world in recent years.

Speaking at a press preview at the museum yesterday, Çalıkoğlu discussed the relevance of the project in light of the current earthquake and nuclear disaster which have crippled Japan, contending that the contradictory forces of nature and technology are likely to prescribe an eternal conflict.

“Our apocalyptic view of the future and our economically motivated exploitation of nature and its consequences are some of the issues and approaches that our artists, coming from different generations and backgrounds, use to present nature in this exhibition.”

Located in the accommodating and expansive ground-floor exhibiting area of İstanbul Modern, the display explores our longing for an earthly paradise, challenging the idea of nature as a gift that can be modified by mankind and raising a series of underlying questions and issues about the “nature” of nature itself in our postmodern world; does an unspoiled natural world exist? Is our notion of nature essentially a cultural idea? Will the human footprint extend beyond a point of no return, or have we long since passed this point? Finally, will technology be the “new nature”?

Read more on Today's Zaman: Istanbul Modern presents ‘Paradise Lost’

Istanbul Sapphire, The Blue Beacon

Designed by Tabanlioglu Architects of Istanbul, the contemporary icon of the city was inaugurated by Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Besides being a luxury residential and a monumental contribution to urban aesthetic, with its observation deck at the highest point of the city and its boutique shopping facility, Sapphire is now ready to join the city life as a vibrant meeting point.

Being the capital to three empires throughout its history, at the crossroad between East and West, Istanbul symbolizes interaction, transformation and development; the City has been the center of commercial control and coordination, thanks to its geography; today the city maintains these functions at its "Central Business Districts- CBD". 

The Levent-Maslak axis, that developed during the last two decades, is the main CBD of Istanbul, adapted the global changes and contemporary needs, as its infrastructure is appropriate in terms of communications and high technology. 

In the process of becoming a metropolis, and an international hub with a population of more than 15 million people, Istanbul is going through a fast urban transformation, in parallel with the changing economic and social structure. 

In the last few decades, especially due to increasing use of automobiles, luxury condominiums have been established in the suburbs of Istanbul, like in many other metropolis around the world. Recently, major investments in residential complexes are also contributing to bringing life back to city center; mix-use complexes and high rise residential towers arise or industrial buildings transform into elegant homes, designer lofts or idiosyncratic spots. The construction of prestigious international buildings adds a permanent economic and aesthetic value to the city. 

The 261 meter Sapphire residential building rises in agreement with the surrounding high-rises in the heart of Istanbul. The newly completed structure is the tallest residential building in Europe and 97th highest building in the world. The total construction area of the 66 floor creation is 165,000m^2.

Without question, Istanbul is a city of youthful dynamism with its eye on the high-tech future and the profits and innovations.

Visit Istanbul Sapphire

Istanbul is perfect getaway for Gulf residents

Looking for a new long weekend destination? Why not take a trip to Turkey and discover thriving, metropolitan Istanbul.

Turkey is only a short hop north and for a long weekend, Istanbul offers an eclectic mix of old and new in a stunning city setting. Airlines across the region offer excellent connections into Istanbul, and the airport is a short drive or train ride from the city centre.

As the European Capital of Culture in 2010, Istanbul’s position as a powerhouse of arts and culture in the region has never been stronger. The city is buzzing with festivals and events, especially in the springtime, with everything from an annual international film festival to a tulip festival.

Even outside of these times, live music, independent bars and art exhibitions create an intense, energetic atmosphere and an excellent basis for a long weekend’s entertainment.

Beyond this though, the collection of different neighbourhoods making up the city is well worth exploring. The historic centre, Faith, is inside the old city walls, and is home to a multitude of museums, bazaars, bars and restaurants, and is bursting with classic Byzantine architecture.

Towards the north of the city, Nisantasi offers a more chic, relaxed vibe, where international fashion houses and Art Nouveau buildings sit side by side. The area is perfect for a leisurely weekend coffee and a spot of people watching; or by night, as the streets come to life with some of the best bars and restaurants in the city.
So take the time out; after a weekend in this thriving city you’ll get home refreshed, invigorated – and planning your next trip back.

Read more on Arabian Business: Istanbul is perfect getaway for Gulf residents

Senit & Aurela Gace in Turkey

The representatives of Albania and San Marino are currently in Istanbul promoting their Eurovision entries.

The Albanian representative of this years Eurovision Song Contest,Aurela Gace,has just started a promo tour. Aurela’s first destination is Istanbul-Turkey, where she will promote her Eurovision entry Feel the passion. The Albanian artist will attend the Eurovision in Concert in The Netherlands,on April 9.

San Marino’s representative,Senit,has also arrived in Istanbul to promote her entry Stand by.

Read more on ESC Daily: Senit & Aurela Gace in Turkey

March 24, 2011

L’ammaestratore di Istanbul (The tamer from Istanbul)

L’ammaestratore di Istanbul (The tamer from Instanbul) is a comics on Osman Hamdi, an Ottoman intellectual who lived between the 19th and 20th century - art by Gianluca Costantini & written by Elettra Stamboulis.

Osman was an extraordinary figure; the first painter to portray women in naturalistic ways; founder of the Istanbul Archaeology Museum; discoverer of royal tombs at Sidon (including the one presumably from the time of Alexander the Great) and Nemrut Dagh; the first archaeologist with Eastern origin to join the European Association of Archaeologists and also author of the law to preserve the artistic heritage of his country against the abuse of other countries.

During his later years, he set up the first Academy of Fine Arts in the Ottoman Empire, later to become Mimar Sinan. Nevertheless, his name does not appear in Western art books or cultural history books. We became passionate about his story because we understood this omission as a sign of the return of an “Orientalism” which puts at the heart of the cultural cradle the Eastern as interpreted by the Western and does not leave space to those who from the Eastern have made the culture.

However, it was a journey to discover a still dark world, full of prejudices. The removal of prejudices is one of our concerns; that is why Osman’s story looks so engaging to us. The book is a sort of log which unfolds a path through images and atmospheres in Turkey today, taking into account our limited and biased viewpoint.

Papergirl Istanbul – Open Call!

Mail-Art Project | The originally Berlin-based Papergirl project has already spread to 4 continents, took place in 20 cities in 12 different countries and keeps on getting bigger with every new city! Now, the Papergirl founder Aisha Ronniger and her team proclaim the open call for the upcoming Papergirl issue in Istanbul.

The fantastic thing about this unusual street art and delivery system project with its participatory, analogue, non-commercial, and impulsive ideas is that it’s open for everyone who wants to participate – All you have to do is to get in contact with the Papergirl crew and to send in your artworks.

Papergirl #3 from Papergirl on Vimeo

Read more on Urban Art Core: Papergirl Istanbul – Open Call!

March 23, 2011

Souk it up

Pack your bags for 40 days and 40 nights of retail therapy at the Istanbul Shopping Fest, which runs till April 26. There will be discounts of up to 30 percent at many shopping centers with retailers offering bigger cuts from 8pm till 2am.

The festival will center around Taksim, Nisantasi, Sisli, Bakirkoy, Bahariye and Bagdat Caddesi. Traditional markets like the Spice Bazaar and the Grand Bazaar will also be taking part in the festival.

Read more on The Standard: Souk it up

Top 10 Mediterranean Ports

The list was put together by a panel of 14 experts, who were asked to nominate their favourite Mediterranean port by The Cruise Show, the UK's only exhibition dedicated to cruise travel.

That iconic cities such as Barcelona, Venice and Istanbul rub shoulders on the list with Greek islands and idyllic small ports such as Portofino and Villefranche reflects the Mediterranean's position as the most diverse cruise region in the world.

Despite hot competition from other cruise destinations around the globe, the Mediterranean is more popular with British cruisers than ever. UK industry body the Passenger Shipping Association reckons 600,000 Britons cruised the Med in 2010 and that number set to rise this year as more cruise ships are based in the region.

Freelance cruise journalist and Telegraph Travel columnist Jane Archer said: "The Mediterranean has always been popular with British cruisers, but this year is going to be phenomenal, with more ships - and more big ships - than ever in the region to meet growing demand. It seems we just can't get enough of the place!

Top 10 Mediterranean Ports

4- Istanbul: The port exemplifies the meeting of east and west with its majestic domes and soaring minarets. Immerse yourself in the vibrant and fragrant Grand Bazaar or visit the iconic St Sophia or Blue Mosque.
Joanna Boxall, Cunard

Read more on Easier Travel: Top 10 Mediterranean Ports

Modern and Contemporary Turkish Art Auction at Antik A.S. Totals $ 9.5 Million

Antik A.S. in Istanbul, the sale of Modern and Contemporary Turkish Art totals of $9,500,000 within the presale estimate of $6 million. Competition was fierce for many of the top lots, with multiple bidders participating.

The sale room was crowded with collectors. New auction records were set for many Turkish artists, including Burhan Uygur’s ““Morning Seagulls Requiem for Migrating Birds” which doubled the pre sale estimate and brought the artist’s auction record with a remarkable 205,000 EURO, Yüksel Arslan, Selim Turan, Mubin Orhon, Alaettin Aksoy, Neşe Erdok, Bedri Baykam and many other Turkish artists also achieved auction record results in the sale.

Commenting on the strong Contemporary Turkish Art Sale results, Olgac Artam, auctioneer of the sale, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the results achieved for our sale of Contemporary Turkish Art. Participation of new collectors and young buyers sends a very positive message to the art market.”

Read more on Art Daily: Modern and Contemporary Turkish Art Auction at Antik A.S. Totals $ 9.5 Million

Last imperial mosque built gains a new face

A slap resounded around the glittering gathering of women in the imperial harem at Dolmabahçe Palace. The person doing the slapping was none other than Pertevniyal, the valide sultan (the mother of the sultan), and the woman whose face was slapped was France’s Empress Eugenie. “Why?” you may ask. Pertevniyal Sultan is supposed to have been offended at having a foreign woman enter her harem.

Is the story true? If it was, it most likely was hushed up because it would have been an extraordinary affront to the wife of the ruler of France, a long-standing ally of Turkey. The year was 1869 and Eugenie was paying a courtesy call to Sultan Abdulaziz while on her way to the opening of the Suez Canal. Her husband, Emperor Napoleon III, was unable to accompany her because of unrest in France.

Pertevniyal, born in 1812, was originally from Wallachia (in present-day Romania) and was married to Sultan Mahmut II in 1829.

Pertevniyal Valide Sultan Camii was the last imperial mosque built. It is by no means as impressive as the early imperial mosques such as Yeni Camii in Eminönü, which was also built at the behest of valide sultans. It was considered one of the pioneers of Ottoman revivalism when it was built between 1869 and 1871.

What is of great interest is the facade that reflects a number of different decorative styles that were at the time being used on new and renovated buildings in Istanbul by the foreign architects who had flocked to the city in search of fame and fortune. Among these were D’Aronco and the Fossati Brothers. The windows in the drum that supported the dome were Gothic in style. Other elements were taken from Ottoman decorative arts and still others resembled North African and Moorish elements in addition to suggestions of forms borrowed from Indian architecture. The interior walls were covered with decorative motifs from the Ottoman and floral arrangements inspired by Chinese art.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Last imperial mosque built gains a new face

Turkey's Sabancı Holding to switch off lights for Earth Hour

Sabancı Holding, a leading Turkish conglomerate, will switch off lights at its headquarters in Istanbul for one hour this Saturday to support the World Wildlife Fund, or WWF’s, Earth Hour campaign.

The lights at Sabancı Center will be switched off from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, according to a statement by the company.

Organized by the WWF, Earth Hour started in 2007 in Sydney when 2.2 million individuals and more than 2,000 businesses turned their lights off for one hour to take a stand against climate change. In 2010, hundreds of millions of people across the world, in 4,616 cities and 128 countries and territories joined the global display of climate action. Iconic buildings and landmarks from the Asia-Pacific to Europe and Africa to the Americas switched off.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Turkey's Sabancı Holding to switch off lights for Earth Hour

March 22, 2011

Roby Lakatos: In Istanbul to enliven stage with mixture of cultures

Roby Lakatos, dubbed the “devil’s fiddler,” is taking to the stage tonight at the Cemal Reşit Rey (CRR) Concert Hall in İstanbul to present his native Hungarian folk tunes with a twist of jazz.

Born in 1965 into a family of Roma violinists descending from Janos Bihari -- referred to as the “King of Gypsy Violinists” -- Lakatos appears on the stage as a classical virtuoso, a jazz improviser, a composer and an arranger.

“Violin is my life,” says Lakatos, in an interview with Today’s Zaman. “I have been playing the violin since I was 3. My father used to play as well. I am the seventh generation in this sense, so I think it is in my genes. The violin chose me before I chose it. While the children around me were playing with toys, my toy was the violin. Yes, it was my toy until I started school. I started school at the age of 6, and everything became harder for me. The violin playing techniques were very hard for me, and then I understood that it was not actually a toy.”

Lakatos assures us that the audience will enjoy tonight’s CRR concert. “We will play everything as we always do,” he says, “anything that has good rhythm: Balkan music, Roma music, classical music, jazz, Latin, tango and bolero.”

On the other hand, it is not only the music that is good, but also the audience for Lakatos. “The Turkish audience is amazing. The people are so easy, they love the music, their ambiance is great, they are filled with energy and they can convey this energy to me as well. This is naturally reflected in the music, and everything becomes more joyous.”

Read more on Today's Zaman: Roby Lakatos: In İstanbul to enliven stage with mixture of cultures

UEFA to hold its annual congress in Istanbul in 2012

The Union of European Football Federations (UEFA) will hold its annual congress in Istanbul, Turkey in 2012, Turkish Football Federation (TFF) said on Monday.

A TFF statement said the UEFA Executive Committee decided to hold the 36th UEFA Ordinary Congress in Istanbul in March 2012.

"We will be proud to host senior soccer executives and over 150 journalists in Istanbul," TFF
President Mahmut Ozgener said.

Turkey has hosted UEFA Congress only once so far (in 1978).

In its regular congress, the UEFA discusses general accounts and budget, operational report, and makes decisions on the future of football.

Read more on World Bulettin: UEFA to hold its annual congress in Istanbul in 2012

March 21, 2011

Paulo Coelho meets readers in Istanbul

Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho, who is mostly known in Turkey for his book “The Alchemist,” has arrived in Istanbul. Coelho, who is in the city to celebrate St. Joseph’s Day and to promote his latest book “The Aleph,” held a press conference Saturday at the Pera Palace Hotel.

Coelho said that he chose a different city each year to celebrate St. Joseph’s Day at a dinner and had chosen Istanbul this year. It was his third time in Turkey; he said he had very special moments each time in the country.

Coelho watched and was impressed by the film “Midnight Express” at a young age, adding: “How Turkey is shown in this film, oh my god! It is a very strong film that it created a picture about Turkey and Turkish people. There are prejudices against my country, too. Brazil is a splendid country just like Turkey.”

Speaking about his latest novel “The Aleph,” he said that he felt that his development through wisdom had stopped for sometime and he listened to his heart, following the advice of his master. He said that coincidences had carried him to Russia, where he met a Turkish girl named Hilal living in the country. He said that a heavy relationship had started between them and they had touched on time and space during their train travels.

Coelho said that he had decided to write about this experience when he returned to Rio de Janeiro and wrote the book within five to seven days. He thanked his readers, saying that that the book was translated into Turkish after his native language and became number one in Turkey’s book sales in one week. He said that the book would be published in many countries by the end of the year.

After the press conference, which was also attended by Brazilian Ambassador to Ankara Marcelo Jardim and Can Publishing House General Director Can Öz, Coelho signed his books for readers.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Paulo Coelho meets readers in Istanbul

Dionne Warwick: “I would like to perform in Istanbul again”

During the 2011 Seychelles Carnival; ‘Carnaval International de Victoria’, we had the opportunity to meet with Mrs. Dionne Warwick; legendary American singer and goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Mrs. Warwick, who came to Istanbul in July 2007 for a concert, said to that she would like to come to Istanbul again and perform for Turkish audience.

Best known for her partnership with Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Warwick ranks among the 40 biggest hit makers of the entire rock era (1955 - 1999), based on the Billboard Hot 100 Pop Singles Charts. According to Billboard Magazine, Warwick ranks second only to Aretha Franklin as the most charted female vocalist with 56 singles making the Billboard Hot 100 between 1962 and 1998.

Watch the video on Travel News Gazette: Dionne Warwick: “I would like to perform in Istanbul again”

Galatasaray breaks 'loudest crowd' record in Istanbul derby

Friday’s Istanbul football derby was monitored by a team of the Guinness World Records, who made measurements of the level of noise made by the 50,000-strong crowd at Türk Telekom Arena.

It was reported that three measurements would be made on Friday, one 10 minutes before the kick-off (at 8:50 p.m.) and then three and 15 minutes after the start of the game.

At half time, it was reported that Galatasaray fans had reached 131.76 decibels, which was enough to pass the previous mark of 128.7 decibels reached during a National Football League game between the Denver Broncos and the New England Patriots at Mile High Stadium in Denver, Colorado.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Galatasaray breaks 'loudest crowd' record in Istanbul derby

March 20, 2011

The 1st 'Star of Istanbul' from the Star Team of Istanbul

As the first contributor to 'Stars of Istanbul' project, Galatasaray proved to the world that it is not just another football club, that it is something more...

Istanbul's Galatasaray is one of the four biggest football clubs in Turkey. Galatasaray is also one of Turkey's well-known brands and has been a source of national pride over the years. However Galatasaray lately has transcended being just a football club or being just a 'brand'.

Galatasaray today is 'alive' in the minds and hearts- not only of its supporters - but of everyone who has eyes to see what is going on in the world. Galatasaray today is a living, breathing lovemark with a heart and a soul.

'Stars of Istanbul', the biggest multi-purpose outdoor arts event to be held in Istanbul for the benefit of UNICEF Turkey, is a social responsibility project that works to provide a bright future for children.

3D graphic and artistic renderings, inspired by the culture and the history of the city dating back thousands of years, will be displayed on top of giant stars, for the masses to enjoy. The sculptures will not only bring joy and colour to Istanbul, but will also brighten the future of many children.

'Stars of Istanbul' exhibition is going to last three months between September 1 - November 30.

'The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.' Mitch Albom