April 30, 2011

Istanbul Music Festival Prepares for 'Journeys to Faraway Lands’

The 39th Istanbul International Music Festival will provide an A-list of world stars and 24 classical concerts throughout the month of June.

With three world and six Turkey premieres, the Istanbul Music Festival will host star names such as Gidon Kremer, Yuri Bashmet, Patricia Petibon, Hilary Hahn, Renée Fleming, Christoph Eschenbach, and one of the most significant orchestras of classical music, the Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra, as well as over 600 local and foreign artists. The festival will also feature pre-concert talks and colloquiums and master classes open to the audience.

The Glamour of Travel from a Bygone Era at Pera Palace Hotel, Istanbul

The Welcome

Despite its name, illustrious history and a two-year, €23 million (Dh124m) renovation, there is nothing remotely grand or intimidating about the Pera Palace Hotel. I'm greeted by a smiling doorman who immediately makes me feel like I've just returned to a sumptuous private members club after a long absence. The atmosphere is calm and genteel, my fellow members include Atatürk, Hemingway and Agatha Christie, and I'm happy to collude in this delusion for the rest of my stay.

The Neighbourhood

In the 19th century, Pera was Istanbul's most contemporary quarter. Today the area, now known as Beyoglu, is one of the city's most vibrant, being just as popular with fashionable Istanbullus as it is with tourists. Both promenade the nearby Istiklal Caddesi, Beyoglu's main pedestrianised shopping street, and flock to its many chic bars, restaurants, boutiques and cafes. In comparison given the hotel's refined interior, some streets are still decidedly down at heel, but with nearby neighbours such as the excellent Pera Museum (http://en.peramuzesi.org.tr/) and the Istanbul Culinary Institute (www.istanbulculinary.com/eng/), the area attracts a smart, sophisticated crowd looking for the best of Turkish culture and cuisine.

The Food

The hotel's main restaurant Agatha pays tribute to the three major stops made by guests as they originally travelled to the hotel on the Orient Express: Paris, Venice and Istanbul. It serves a combination of French, Italian and Turkish dishes that are available à la carte or from the chef's six-course degustation menu (125 Turkish lira; Dh300) and it's the Turkish dishes that really stand out. For à la carte offerings try the saffron-infused artichoke soup cooked in olive oil (18 lira; Dh43) or marinated saddle of lamb stuffed with dried aubergine and green beans wrapped with pastrami and mint sauce (46 lira; Dh110).

The Scene

Judging by the designer glasses, high-concept luggage and artfully unkempt hairstyles, the Pera Palace seems to be a favourite with slightly older writers, journalists, academics and architecture junkies out of season, as well as alternative business people looking for a suitable venue for their breakfast meetings. During high season, the hotel attracts larger, organised tour groups of foreign tourists for one or two nights who come to see the hotel's in-house Atatürk museum as well as room 411 - Agatha Christie's favourite and reputedly the suite where she was inspired to write her novel Murder on the Orient Express.

Artist Shines New Light on Istanbul

Contemporary French artist Bertrand Ivanoff’s unique light installation “Rainbow Box” is on display at the derelict tobacco warehouse on Paşalimanı Street in Üsküdar, a roofless structure that now stands as just four walls.

Having displayed work in Istanbul before, including a permanent installation commissioned by the Borusan Art Center in 2007, Ivanoff’s search for flexible, concrete spaces complimentary to the field of public art he specializes in has brought him back to Turkey, where his current installation of colorful lights runs until May 22.

Read more on Today's Zaman: Artist Shines New Light on Istanbul

Something To Declare: Dining out in Istanbul; Asia via Germany; Eclipse 2012

Destination of the week: Dining out in Istanbul

Turkey's largest city, whose heritage hotels are featured on page 6 today, is the subject of a price war between full-service and no-frills airlines this summer. British Airways (0844 493 0787; ba.com) competes with Turkish Airlines (020-7471 6666; turkishairlines.com) from Heathrow to the main airport of Ataturk, while easyJet (0905 821 0905; easyjet.com) at Gatwick rivals the low-cost flights on Pegasus (0845 0848 980; flypgs.com) from Stansted to the second airport, Sabiha Gokcen. Fares start below £200 return.

When you arrive, one of the most intriguing options is a one-day "Home Cooked Istanbul Urban Adventure" through Istanbul's markets, offered by the adventure specialist Intrepid (020-3147 7777; urbanadventures.com). For a price of around £25 you get a four-hour tour that includes a meal with a local family and the chance to play backgammon in a teahouse.

"Urban adventures give people a taste of real life experience without that perceived insecurity of using public transport," says the company's managing director, Geoff Manchester.

Red Bull Racing's Mark Webber excited about Turkish Grand Prix

Red Bull Racing driver Mark Webber says that he cannot wait for next weekend’s Turkish Grand Prix.

The Australian driver, who is currently lying in fourth place in the drivers’ Championship standings with 37 points after the opening three races of the new season, a whole 31 points behind the leader and team-mate Sebastian Vettel, achieved a third-place finish in Istanbul last year.

“I like Istanbul Park – there are a lot of undulations, which makes the track a little bit more challenging in places,” Webber told the official Red Bull website.

Istanbul to Become International Financial Hub by 2023

The text could not be retrieved due to website administrators' preferences. If you are interested in reading this article please follow the link below.

Read more on Bernama: Istanbul to Become International Financial Hub by 2023

The Big Six: Heritage hotels in Istanbul

Pera Palace, Beyoglu

Istandbul's grande dame hotel awoke from some much-needed beauty sleep late last year. Rooms are a medley of marble, antique dressers, classic portraits of the city and monogrammed pillowcases. The suites are in a class of their own: some overlook the Bosphorus, while the Agatha Christie suite is where the author supposedly penned Murder on the Orient Express. The hotel has a spa with an indoor jet-streamed swimming pool and Turkish bath.

Pera Palace, Mesrutiyet Caddesi 52, Beyoglu (00 90 212 377 4000; perapalace.com). Doubles start at €230, including breakfast.

Tomtom Suites, Beyoglu

As European traders colonised the Golden Horn's northern shores, they left behind a legacy of grand embassies, churches and bourgeois residences. Tomtom Suites was a French law court annexe in the 1850s; evolving into a Franciscan nunnery; then bank archives. Since 2008 it has been a sumptuous mansion with Carrara marble bathrooms and an Ottoman library. The gardens of the Italian Consulate opposite ensure night-time tranquillity, and the top-floor restaurant overlooks the Bosphorus.

Tomtom Suites, Tomtom Kaptan Sokak 18, Beyoglu (00 90 212 292 4949; tomtomsuites.com). Suites start at €200, including breakfast.

Read more on The Independent: The Big Six: Heritage hotels in Istanbul

April 29, 2011

NBA Legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Visit Istanbul

Los Angeles Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Turkish star Mehmet Okur are coming to Turkey to attend a party in Istanbul.

All-time National Basketball Association top scorer Abdul-Jabbar and Okur, the only Turk to win a league title in the world’s best basketball league, will be present at a Friday party for the launch of Renault’s “Meganeomani” advertising campaign.

Some high-profile athletes and sports administrators of Turkey will also attend the party, a statement from Renault said.

Abdul-Jabbar, now 64, scored 38,387 points in his career, placing him above some of the greatest names of basketball.

Okur is one of Turkey’s most decorated players, having won the NBA title with the Detroit Pistons in 2004 and participating in the All-Star game in 2007, becoming the only Turk to do so.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: NBA Legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Visit Istanbul

Hamilton Targets More Turkish Delight

Lewis Hamilton hopes McLaren can continue to challenge Red Bull's dominance when the Formula One circuit returns to action in Turkey this weekend.

The 2008 world champion triumphed in Istanbul despite Red Bull's Mark Webber claiming pole position, with McLaren teammate Jenson Button coming home second.

"Istanbul Park is a circuit I really enjoy. It's a great modern track, with a real variety of corners, plenty of high-speed stuff and a place where you really feel the benefit of having the car properly hooked up beneath you," Hamilton told the F1 website on Thursday.

Music Festival Time for Istanbul

The Istanbul Music Festival organised by Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts, under the sponsorship of Borusan is greeting the music lovers in its 39th year with a fully packed program.

The Istanbul Music Festival, sponsored by Borusan Holding since 2006 will take place between June 4-29 this year. Hosting three world and six Turkey premieres, the Istanbul Music Festival will host star names in Istanbul including Gidon Kremer, Yuri Bashmet, Patricia Petibon, Hilary Hahn, Renée Fleming, Christoph Eschenbach, and one of the most significant orchestras of classical music, Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra, as well as over 600 local and foreign artists. Besides pre-concert talks and colloquiums, for the first time this year master classes open to the audiences will be organized.

From this year on, the Istanbul Music Festival will construct its programme with a theme. With the 39th Istanbul Music Festival’s programme that is created in line with the “Journeys to Far Away Lands” theme, the music of a vast geography ranging from the west side of America to Russia, from Spain to Buenos Aires, Venice, Indian Ocean and Mexico, will meet the festival audience.

Read more on Travel Gazette: Music Festival Time for Istanbul

Amp Fiddler to Storm Salon Stage Saturday

This Saturday night will see celebrated American keyboardist Amp Fiddler, beacon of the new wave of US soul, take to the stage of Istanbul’s Salon venue as part of his 2011 tour.

Known for a unique musical style that transcends a combination of genres including funk, soul, dance and electronica, the Detroit-born artist has shared stages and recording studios with world famous acts including Prince, Corinne Bailey Rae, Jamiroquai, George Clinton’s Parliament and Fishbone. His first solo album, “Waltz of a Ghetto Fly,” was released in March 2004 and his most recent album, “Afro Strut,” was released in 2006.

Read more on Today's Zaman: Amp Fiddler to Storm Salon Stage Saturday

Top Five Must See Attraction for Your Holidays to Turkey

If you are one of the many people who has booked one of the available all inclusive holidays to Turkey from Ireland this coming summer, you are certainly in for a treat. This vast and welcoming country, a cultural melting pot where east meets west, is blessed with many outstanding attractions. Listed below are just five of the very best that Turkey has to offer which will make any trip to this warm and friendly land a trip to remember.

1. Istanbul: Turkey’s largest city has also been known historically as Byzantium and Constantinople, and its location is where the continents of Europe and Asia meet. Istanbul is a diverse, thriving and busy city, with a heady mix of contemporary buildings and shops, mixing easily with old-style market places and bazaars. The city is home to many outstanding museums chronicling the illustrious past of the city and the country and any visit to Turkey is enriched by at least a day visit to this important and beautiful destination.

2. St Sophia Museum (also known as Haghia Sophia Museum): The museum is one of the most beautiful examples of Byzantine architecture in the world today. When built in the sixth century, it was revered as the largest church ever built. Since then, this huge building has been a church and a mosque, but in 1936, at the order of Ataturk, was turned into a museum. St Sophia Museum is a truly spectacular sight and one worthy of making extra effort to visit.

One thing is certain; whether you visit some, all or even none of the places on this list, your holiday in Turkey will be one to remember. It is a country steeped in history and tradition, of abundant natural resources and with a friendly, passionate population that will do its utmost to ensure that your stay in their country is as relaxing and enjoyable as possible.

Istanbul to Host 2011 Global Summit of Women

More than 1,000 women from all over the world will gather in Istanbul for the 21st Global Summit of Women between May 5 and 7. Prominent women will gather in Turkey’s largest city to share winning strategies for advancing women’s economic lives and ensuring global prosperity.

The issues that will be discussed at the summit include growth of the world’s economies, development of a new breed of leadership and engendering of peace worldwide.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Istanbul to host 2011 Global Summit of Women

April 28, 2011

Eastern Inspiration: Istanbul Abounds with Beauty You Can Bring Home

Istanbul is one of my favourite cities, and Sam and I have just spent a fabulous week shopping, sightseeing and gathering inspiration for our next projects during the first annual Istanbul Shopping Festival.

So as I enjoy a glass of Turkish wine on the nine-hour flight home (Istanbul direct to Toronto on Turkish Airlines, which even have its own chef on board), I thought I'd share some of my favourite ideas with you.

Istanbul is a design hotbed, an amazing destination for apparel and home fashions, materials and ideas. It's one of the best-kept designer secrets, and we love to shop for textiles, antiques and home decor products in the Cukurcuma district.

What did we buy? We found a carousel horse that I am having shipped home for our dining room. I plan to set the top half of the horse on one of my tables and have the bottom half set on the floor – very avant-garde.

We also found some amazing wooden signs, old chair frames, stone pots and old wall stones, great to simply set on the ground inside or outside of a home.

Many of the antique stores also had beautiful antique mirrors that would be fabulous additions to any bathroom or powder room. We feel strongly that it is the diversity – the juxtaposition of textures and colours, the contrast of modern and antique – that makes a room exciting. It is the diversity that creates the drama that creates the best spaces.

Exciting and Ancient Istanbul

HE could have been no more than 10 years of age, dressed splendidly from head to toe in white with gold and blue trimmings.

Today, he is out on the town in Istanbul with his proud parents.

It’s a special day ahead of a very special day: the day he is to be ceremonially circumcised.

Circumcision is among the most significant traditional procedures for a Turkish Anatolian boy. The ceremony is a kind of coming-of-age for the boys to earn respectability in the community.

It may be painful for them but it is a source of considerable joy and pride for the parents.

A family starts preparing for the event about two months beforehand. Printed invitations to attend the ceremony are sent out to family and friends.

Today’s public parading in the special circumcision outfit, when the boy is given special treats, is the most important part of the preparations. Rich families adorn their sons with jewels.

On the day of the ceremony, guests will shower the boy with gifts such as gold, money, clothing and household goods.

Read more on Coolum News: Exciting and Ancient Istanbul

The 21st World Congress of Philosophy

Every five years, philosophers from around the globe gather to drink coffee and swap ideas. Philosophy Now’s Anja Steinbauer and Rick Lewis were there.

The August sun glittered alluringly on the waters of the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn, and illuminated the ancient domes and minarets of Sultanahmet. In their shadow, bazaars and cafés throbbed with life and noise. Meanwhile, in a modern conference centre near Taksim Square, two thousand philosophers were doing what they do best – staying indoors swapping ideas.

Yes, the five-yearly circus of ideas had come to Istanbul. The last World Congress, in 1998, was held in Boston, a city which shares few similarities with Istanbul apart from a good harbour and a liberal attitude towards dispensing tea.

Read more on Philosophy Now: The 21st World Congress of Philosophy

MoMA Presents Destination: Istanbul Collection

This May, geometric patterns, rhythmic lines and vibrant colors of emerging Turkish designers are to enchant New Yorkers at the New York Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) Design Store. Exclusive lifestyle designer products - inspired by a city where continents meet and empires have fallen - will be showcased as a part of MoMA's "Destination: Design" series.

The "Destination: Istanbul" collection will feature more than 100 hand-picked lifestyle products from 41 different Turkish designers. The exclusive collection is to include items such as furniture, kitchenware, jewelry and decoration elements that are unique to Turkey while being innovative and artistic in design.

Plates made from olive trees from the Aegean coast of Turkey; porcelain espresso cups reflecting silhouettes of Whirling Dervishes; traditional tea pots made of non-traditional materials such as nylon and steel; fairy-tale pearl jewelry inspired by the abacus and Plexiglas chess sets that mirror the bewitching ancient silhouette of Istanbul are just a few of the never-seen-before-items that "Destination: Istanbul" promises to impress visitors with.

Turkey Plans New Canal for Istanbul

ISTANBUL — Heating up the campaign for the coming parliamentary elections, Turkey’s governing party on Wednesday unveiled a proposal to build a canal parallel to Istanbul’s Bosporus that would be longer than either the Panama or Suez canals.

Details of the plan, which has been speculated about privately in recent months as the “crazy project” of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, had been kept under wraps, but on Wednesday it immediately became the centerpiece of his party’s bid for a third term in power.

The pro-Islamic Justice and Development Party, known as the AKP, foresees a 28- to 30-mile canal connecting the Black Sea in the north to the Marmara Sea in the southwest that would be a safer alternative for heavy tanker ships than the natural Bosporus straits, which run through the heart of Istanbul, a city of around 15 million people.

The plan aims to divert ship traffic along the Bosporus that sometimes numbers 149 tankers a day carrying natural gas, crude oil, chemicals and other industrial goods.

Read more on The New York Times: Turkey Plans New Canal for Istanbul

The “Istanbul Canal” would cut through the city’s European side, measuring 40 to 50 kilometers long, about 150 meters wide and 25 meters deep, Erdoğan told a packed and raucous crowd that had assembled at the Istanbul Congress Center to hear the prime minister announce his long-secret “crazy project” for Istanbul.

More than 1,000 people – most of them members of Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP – attended the speech, often interrupting the prime minister to shout out his praises and chant slogans like “Turkey is proud of you.”

In his speech, Erdoğan talked about his “dreams” for Istanbul, making comparisons with the dreams of people such as Fatih Sultan Mehmet, the conqueror of the city, and prominent 16th-century Ottoman architect Sinan before unveiling his plan for the second strait.

“There have been always big dreams behind the big steps and big victories in history. And now we have a dream for our nation and Istanbul. We are rolling up our sleeves for ‘Kanal Istanbul,’ one of the greatest projects of the century that will outshine the Panama and Suez canals,” Erdoğan told the audience.

The project, he said, will transform Istanbul’s geography into “two peninsulas and one island.”

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: A 'second Bosphorus' to be built in Istanbul

April 27, 2011

Istanbul Worst of the Season for Tyre Wear, Pirelli Motorsport Boss Says

Pirelli's director of motorsport Paul Hembrey thinks that next weekend's Turkish Grand Prix could be the worst this season in terms of tyre wear.

The Italian supplier's return to Formula One has been characterised by the higher levels of wear on their tyres, with the consequent effect on race strategies producing some dramatic racing.

"It is going to vary race to race, and circuit to circuit, depending on what tyre of surface it is," Hembery told the Autosport website.

"The next race in Istanbul is very tough on tyres - and is probably the worst for us as a tyre maker. So that will change again the type of strategy needed in a race.

"But we have had a lot of credit from a lot of people about the nature of the races so far - and if we continue like that we will have a great season."

What Makes Aya Sofya So Great?

It's a given that any tourist visiting İstanbul will, along with trips to Topkapı Palace, the Blue Mosque and probably the Grand Bazaar, make the pilgrimage to Aya Sofya (also known as Hagia Sophia or “Church of the Holy Wisdom”). But what is it that makes this near 15-century-old building, which rises imposingly from the heart of the city's historic Sultanahmet district, so special?

So important that in 1985 Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia) was chosen as a World Heritage site by UNESCO, so beguiling that in 2010 it attracted some two-and-a-half million visitors, despite the rather hefty admission fee.

Read more on Today's Zaman: What Makes Aya Sofya So Great?

After hours: I Give My All in Exotic Istanbul

"Why have you come to here?" asks a Turkish man heaving my suitcase off the conveyor belt at Istanbul airport. "For a party," I reply mysteriously.

He looks at the size of my gigantic bag and says: "Must be a crazy party."

It's full of three burlesque costumes, consisting of five-foot feather plumes, Swarovski-covered heels and a menagerie of hairpieces. I'm on my monthly trip to this glorious metropolis to perform at a burlesque show.

Istanbul’s Shopping Fest Ends, Next Year on the Table

The 40-day Istanbul Shopping Festival, or ISF, which revealed great amounts of shopping and attracted a high number of tourists, ended Tuesday. The sales during the festival are expected to be announced next week, but the ups and downs of the event have already begun to be discussed.

“The glass is more than half full,” Yılmaz Yılmaz, co-chairman of the shopping festival and chairman of United Brands Association, or BMD, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Tuesday. “There is a serious increase especially in the foreign trade.”

“With occupancy rates above 95 percent in hotels in Istanbul despite some price hikes, we can see how much the festival attracted tourists to Istanbul,” he said. “But we will be able to see the positive impact of the festival on foreign trade and the whole picture more clearly when the data concerning the turnover and expenses made during the festival are announced next week,” he said.

Istanbul Fountain Restoration Continues

Practically everywhere in the older parts of Istanbul, there are fountains. Water was an integral part of city life, both for drinking and washing. Demonstrated by not only the fountains but also the aqueducts that brought fresh water from afar and the cisterns where it was collected and the fountains capping underground springs in various neighborhoods.

Once pipes were laid throughout the city, the old Ottoman fountains were no longer necessary and the sites where once water was distributed and passersby could get a refreshing drink, sank into disuse despite of the fact many of these fountains bore the names of important people from sultans to mothers of sultans and from grand viziers to paşas.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Istanbul Fountain Restoration Continues

A Romani Festival on the Streets of Istanbul

The Spring festival of Hidrellez, celebrated in Istanbul and throughout the region during the first week of May, may be attributed to the ancient prophets Ilyas and Hizir, but its rituals, venerating fire and water, reach back to the roots of Anatolian civilization. In Istanbul today, particularly in Romani districts, Hidrellez comes in the form of a memorable street party.

On May 6, for the second consecutive year, an alternate Hidrellez festival will be held on the Bosphorus-side, Romani neighborhood of Cayırbasi by organizers 9/8 Roman Platform and the Sariyer Municipality. Free of charge and open to the public, this is an ambitious event in a hardscrabble community. Local residents, with their humble streets as a stage, are both the hosts and the guests of this living tradition.

Starting at 1 pm, there will be a photo exhibition examining the Cayırbasi community, along with other cultural activities throughout the afternoon. Well-known Romani musicians will take the stage around 7:30 pm. Concerts officially end at midnight but the party will likely continue well into the morning behind the stage in the alleyways of the neighborhood.

Read more on The New York Times: A Romani Festival on the Streets of Istanbul

April 26, 2011

Istanbul's Sabancı Exhibit to Concentrate on the Aegean Civilizations

A new exhibit at the Sakıp Sabancı Museum scheduled to open at the end of May is the first exhibition of Cycladic Art ever held in Turkey and will feature 600 pieces from Greece and various pieces from Turkey, in a large-scale collaboration between the two countries. The exhibit “Karşıdan Karşıya” (From One Side To Another) concentrates on the civilization and culture of the Aegean Sea region 5,000 years ago.

The inhabitants of the Aegean islands known as the Cyclades produced unique marble figurines and vessels, bronze tools and weapons as well as pottery between 3200 B.C. and 1100 B.C. These physical items demonstrate the extensive commercial and cultural relations between both sides of the Aegean Sea through the islands. While this is not the first time museums in Greece and Turkey have cooperated, it is a first in terms of scale. The Greek National Archaeology Museum in Athens and the N.P. Goulandris Foundation Cycladic Art Museum are providing material to add to works of art from 14 museums in Turkey.

The exhibition, which will be the first exhibition of Cycladic Art ever held in Turkey, will open on May 24 at Istanbul's Sakıp Sabancı Museum and continue until Aug. 28.

Israeli Musician Performs in Turkey

An award-winning Israeli singer and songwriter, who will perform concerts in İzmir and Istanbul, said she would perform in Palestine if she were invited.

Levy said there was a song with these lyrics on her new album, and she wished she could go to Palestine to sing it but regretted that politicians were making it difficult.

With her distinctive and emotive style, Levy brought a new interpretation to the medieval Ladino/Judeo-Spanish style by incorporating more "modern" sounds of Andalusian Flamenco and Persian, as well as combining instruments like the darbuka, oud, violin, cello, and piano.

Levy’s work earned her the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation Award for promoting cross-cultural dialogue between musicians from three cultures.

Levy will take the stage Wednesday night in İzmir's Ahmet Adnan Saygun Art Center and Thursday night in Istanbul's Türker İnanoğlu Maslak Show Center. Tickets are available at Biletix.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Israeli musician performs in Turkey

Young Swedish Musician to Perform in Istanbul

Young Swedish musician Fredrika Stahl will give a concert on Thursday at Istanbul's Babylon as part of the tour for her newest album, 'Sweep Me Away.' Although she has shared the same stage with well-known jazz musicians like Lionel Richie, Diane Reeves, The Brand New Heavies and Ron Carter, Stahl says she does not consider her self as a jazz musician.

She said she is very excited to come back to Istanbul, as it will be her third time coming to the city.

“I actually went to Babylon last time I was here just to check it out. It's going to be awesome to play there. I love the city, the people and the food! I have promoted it very well to my musicians,” she said.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Young Swedish Musician to Perform in Istanbul

Volunteers Climb Turkey’s Highest Building for Colon Cancer Awareness

Taking action against colon cancer, both health experts and volunteers wanting to raise awareness of the third most prevalent type of cancer in Turkey climbed to the highest floor of the new Istanbul Sapphire building on Sunday.

Taking first place among female contenders, Gülay described her personal motivation to join the run. “I lost my father to cancer when I was 15 months old. I wanted to come here today because I know that cancer, when it is diagnosed early, can be far from fatal,” she said. Gülay also highlighted the importance of physical activity for Turkish women in particular.

Read more on Today's Zaman: Volunteers Climb Turkey’s Highest Building for Colon Cancer Awareness

May Day to be Celebrated Again in Istanbul’s Taksim Square

Istanbul authorities have granted official permission for workers to celebrate May Day in symbolic Taksim Square again this year.

“I hope all my laborer brothers who will be in Taksim Square on May 1 will have a beautiful day,” Istanbul Gov. Hüseyin Avni Mutlu said Monday in announcing the official go-ahead for the celebration of labor.

Celebrations in the square had been prohibited in the late 1970s due to martial law but were not permitted even after emergency laws were lifted.

The square was the site of the “Bloody May 1” of 1977 when dozens of people were killed after suspected ultranationalist snipers opened fire on the crowds, causing panic and a stampede. No one has ever been brought to justice for the incident.

Mobility Of Artworks Instead Of Artists

Fanzines from various countries, in which people expressed themselves were gathered in the exhibition "even my mom can make a book". The exhibition is taking place in Kuledibi, a district in Istanbul considered to be at the crossroads of cultures.

In Istanbul, at the crossroads of the Bosphorus and Golden Horn, in the area of the Galata Tower, Kuledibi has been home to many different people and cultures throughout its history. Today, it hosts the Roma, Kurdish and Jewish poor, as well as Laz merchants, intellectuals, the art infatuated bourgeoisie, artists, writers, journalists and illegal immigrant workers, who all live here side-by-side, but separately.

When we pass through the crowds in the square in front of the Galata Tower and go deep into the winding back streets, we can see that the neighbourhood life is struggling to preserve its identity while this quarter's transformation into an art centre has started to make its way these past few years. Children run around and play in the streets; women lean out of their apartments' windows above the galleries and drop baskets to the markets below to be filled with bread and milk, just as they have always done.

The walls and store shutters in Kuledibi are covered with graffiti. We pass among tourists taking photographs of everything under the sun and enter a gallery.

Kristina opens the door to welcome us. Kristina Kramer came here from Germany six years ago and is the curator of the Manzara Perspectives art gallery since the past two years. In order to bring together different cultures through art, the gallery hosts artists from various countries and young art students who organise group exhibitions.

Read more on Bianet: Mobility Of Artworks Instead Of Artists

Turkish University to Offer Armenian Language Courses

An Istanbul university's language academy is organizing the only courses in Armenian at the post-secondary level as part of an effort to enhance regional dialogue between businesspeople and academics.

“Turkey has become a major player in the region, socially, culturally, economically and politically. Thus we decided to teach regional languages rather than the classic foreign languages such as English or French,” said Serdar Dinler, director of Kadir Has University’s Center for Lifelong Learning, which will start teaching the courses in May at its Neighboring Languages Academy.

The new courses aim to enable Turkish people of all ages and backgrounds to speak directly to their Armenian counterparts without resorting to a third language such as English, Dinler told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review in a phone interview Monday.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Turkish University to Offer Armenian Language Courses

Crime and Punishment Films to Debut in Istanbul

The first International Crime and Punishment Film Festival, organized by the Istanbul University faculty of law in collaboration with the Başakşehir Municipality, will be held in Istanbul on Sept. 23-30.

Turks in Istanbul Honor Armenian Victims of Mass Killings

Hundreds of Turks have rallied in downtown Istanbul to remember the mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire nearly a century ago, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Kneeling on the ground in the city's central Taksim Square on April 24, they lit candles and held red carnations to the accompaniment of melancholy Armenian music played on loudspeakers. They then laid the flowers on a big banner that said, "This pain is our pain."

April 25, 2011

Artbosphorus Supports Every Kind of Art at Fulya Fair Center

This year’s “ArtBosphorus 2011” features performance art, paintings, video art, music, workshops and much more. The fair, which will be held April 28 to May 1, will also bring together 300 artists from 20 countries including the U.S., Italy, Island, Poland, Armenia, Japan, Germany, France, Serbia, Korea and England.

“My aim, when considering the fair venue, is to make this an interactive fair. That’s why we divided it into two different parts,” said fair curator Denizhan Özer.

Formula 1: Timely Return of the Prodigal Son

F1 show rolls across continents and on to Turkey for the race on May 8. As the call to pray is heard from the minarets of Istanbul in two weeks, which driver will be grateful their prayers were answered?

Last year it was Hamilton, Button, Webber, Schumacher, Rosberg and Kubica, who occupied the top six places. Vettel and Webber collided, causing the former's retirement.

This year, Kubica won't be amongst the line-up; he's due to be released from hospital within the next few days for some convalescence at his home in Monaco followed by a spell at rehab in Italy. His focus is ultimately on a return to F1 following his horrific accident in a rally car pre-season, though the prospects of that happening are not good.

Turkey will also host the first round of the GP3 series. The 16-race GP3 Series championship, which supports Formula One Grands Prix across Europe, will see Ireland's Status GP team attempting to turn its successful testing programme -- where it either topped or came second in the time-sheets -- into a podium for one or more of its three drivers, namely Alexander Sims from the UK, Antonio Felix da Costa from Portugal and Ivan Lukashevich from Russia.

Read more on Independent Ireland: Formula 1: Timely Return of the Prodigal Son

Cycladic Art Exhibition in Turkey

The first-ever Cycladic Art exhibition in Turkey will take place in May, at the noted Sakip Sabanci Museum, with 68 artifacts that will travel to Turkey from Greece, on loan from the collections of the Goulandris Museum of Cycladic Art and the National Archaeological Museum.

The artifacts, comprising Cycladic figurines, clay pots and marble and bronze items from the two Greek museums will make the journey to Istanbul following the recent approval by Greece's Central Archaeological Council (KAS).

This will be the first exhibition of Cycladic art ever held in Turkey, according to Cycladic Art Museum director Prof. Nicholas Stampolidis, who had the idea for the exhibition.

Hoards Celebrate 'Bulgarian Easter' in Istanbul

Thousands of Bulgarians celebrated Easter in Istanbul, Turkey, Saturday into Sunday with the mass traditionally held at the St. Stefan church.

The service at the church near the Golden Horn, known also as the Iron Church, began at 11 pm Saturday and was delivered by Bishop Teodosiy, who arrived, with three other clergy, from Bulgaria.

Many worshipers also traveled from Bulgaria to Istanbul to attend the Easter Mass there. The building and the yard were filled with people. At midnight sharp the church bell announced the resurrection of Christ while Teodosiy blessed the attendees.

People greeted each other with the traditional "Christ Is Risen," and went around the church three times in observance of the Easter ritual. They also exchanged colored eggs and the Easter bread called kozunak.

Read more on Novinite: Hoards Celebrate 'Bulgarian Easter' in Istanbul

'Leonardo's Bridge' Opera to Premiere in 2012 in Istanbul

Great Italian artist Leonardo Da Vinci’s dream of building a bridge over Istanbul’s Golden Horn is coming true in real life as well as in an opera. World-renowned, India-born U.S. composer and maestro Daniel Nazareth has written an opera based on the artist’s vision and the premiere of the opera will be in Istanbul in 2012.

Nazareth, who has recently visited Turkey, spoke about the story of the "Leonardo Bridge" project, which Da Vinci suggested to the Ottoman sultan 500 years ago.

The last time Nazareth visited Istanbul was two years ago for a concert in Hagia Irene organized by CivWorld, an organization founded in New York after the Sept. 11 terror attacks. The organization gathers in a different city every year and Istanbul was the meeting point in 2009.

Tour of Turkey Kicks off with Istanbul Prologue

The 47th Presidential Tour of Turkey on Sunday took start with a 114.1-km prologue stage in Istanbul in a week of races of a total of eight stages.

The 1,387-km tour, which is the first ever intercontinental cycling event, features 22 teams and 176 professional cyclists, including Andre Greipel of Columbia, Garmin Transitions sprinter Tyler Farrar and Italian Alessandro Petacchi from Lampre-ISD.

After the Istanbul prologue, cyclists will fly to Kusadasi for the second stage. The tour will end on May 1 in Alanya. the race will air live on Turkish television network TRT and on Eurosport.

April 24, 2011

Turkey's Christians Display Wealth of Diverse Easter Practices

With a diverse array of superstitions, traditions and customs, Anatolian Christians used to practice a variety of Easter traditions. Syriacs in the southeast used to burn threads in ovens to symbolize the resurrection, while Armenians painted eggs and burned beeswax prepared on Holy Saturday. Greeks in Istanbul, meanwhile, used to have open-air feasts on Easter Sunday.

“We didn’t have any superstitions like burning threads or anything. Naturally, traditions in Istanbul are different from those in Anatolia,” Mihail Vasiliadis, editor-in-chief of the Istanbul daily Apoyevmatini, told the Daily News.

The Easter cookies of Greeks in Istanbul are made of a special kind of gum and cooked early in the morning while eggs are painted, Vasiliadis said. “Right after the Easter service, we used to have roasted lamb and drinks. Since Easter is in the spring, we used to celebrate it in the open air.”

Happy National Sovereignty and Children's Day!!!

Wikipedia - Official discourse in Turkey argues that Children's Day had its origin in Turkey. The Grand National Assembly of Turkey was established on 1920, April 23, and to commemorate the event, April 23 was proclaimed a national holiday in 1921.(The founder of The Republic of Turkey ,Atatürk, has given this day to the children.) Since 1927 it has also become Children's Day (Turkish: Ulusal Egemenlik ve Çocuk Bayramı, literally "The Holiday of National Sovereignty and Children"), an official holiday dedicated to the children of Turkey and the world. The day is celebrated annually in Turkey with spectacular activities.

In addition to holding many domestic celebratory events such as stadium performances, Turkey also houses Children's Day Festival, where groups of children from other countries are invited to participate in the festivities while staying at Turkish families' homes. In some countries, International Children's Festivals are celebrated with children's of different ethnicities such as Italy.

Istanbul Residents Loyal to Their Old-fashioned Ferries

With a rush of churning water then a jolt, the Karaoglanoglu ferry docks at Karakoy passenger terminal on Istanbul’s European shore and a familiar rite begins.

Selcuk Aral
Young men dart from the waiting room and leap aboard before the gangway is fixed, racing for a prized spot on the benches just above the water.

Parents with children make for the top deck of the 34-year-old ferry, the best place for feeding the flocks of seagulls, which swoop to catch morsels of bread as they fly.

Huge changes lie in store for how the residents of this growing city of almost 15 million people cross the Bosporus Strait, which separates its European and Asian shores.

The government will shortly tender a third Bosporus bridge, expected to bear rail as well as vehicles, and on the seabed giant tubes will encase a privately operated commuter rail link, the Marmaray, and another a twin-deck road.

While these projects will offer speed, convenience and landmark engineering, they are unlikely to capture people’s hearts in the same way as the old-fashioned ferries.

Rent Your Own Boat, Head out into the Bosporus!

We wanted to offer some alternatives, and in researching options, we headed for the shores of the Golden Horn, where we found ourselves standing before rows of wooden boats. These are perhaps the best option for those who wish to breathe in the essence of the Bosporus in these first days of spring weather before us.

Most of you have taken those long tours of the Bosporus -- the ones that leave on boats that carry around 300 people on a regular basis from both Eminönü and Ortaköy. But nothing can take the place of a Bosporus tour that you can take alone with your family or friends. Now, when we say “boat,” don’t be unsettled; we are not talking about anything that will push your budget over the limit. These are boats between six and 10 meters long that carry five people, ideal for touring the Bosporus or the Golden Horn. Prices range between TL 25 an hour for a Golden Horn tour and TL 50 for a Bosporus tour. You can also rent a larger, 16-person boat for TL 120 an hour if you wish. It takes two hours or so to make a round trip between the Golden Horn and the second bridge.

Or, if you have a more limited schedule, you can also just take them as far as Çırağan Palace, and then return to the Golden Horn from Üsküdar. Of course, there are also rowboat trips as another option, for those that love pulling those oars. But, of course, due to the risk of capsizing in the waves created by large ships that pass through the Bosporus, you can’t head out too far in these waters. Still, rowing from the waters of the Golden Horn towards Galata Tower is always a great option, just so you know -- and for only TL 15 an hour.

‘Siege’: Poison, Plots and the Fall of Constantinople

This is definitely the story of Christendom’s last stand, told in a manner that would make it attractive to a film producer. I lost count of the number of prejudiced images, from the fat Turkish slave trader in the center of Constantinople to the continuous use of the word Turk as an insult. Of course, the harem, too, is described with the usual Orientalist imagery. It is a pit of vipers, with “lonely women locked in the harem like birds in a cage.”

But Hight ties his fantasy down to earth with factual accuracy concerning the details of the siege and final battle, even quoting extensively from Constantine’s last recorded words to his troops: “Be not afraid that our walls have been worn down by the enemy’s battering. For your strength lies in the protection of God. … The fate of the oldest empire the world has ever known lies with you. … Fight for each other! Fight for Constantinople!”

“Siege,” by Jack Hight, published by John Murray (2010), 6.99 pounds in paperback ISBN: 978-184854296-9

Turkish journalist: “Most part of Istanbul buildings of 19th century was built by Armenians”

The Turkish councilor of the CNN Ferhat Boratav has spoken about Armenian-Turkish relations and noted this theme had been discussed much recently and many people announced about their Armenian roots, many books were published on the theme and many films are shot. “Aravot” newspaper wrote about this.

“The whole memory is found out in this way. The exhibition devoted to the Armenian architecture was opened in Istanbul last year and many people accepted with amazing the most part of Istanbul buildings of 19th century was built by Armenians.”

April 23, 2011

“Destination: Istanbul” Project by MoMA New York

The Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV) and MoMA Design Store will realise a special project, titled “Destination: Istanbul”.

As part of the project, beginning in May 2011, the MoMA Design Store will present more than 100 products by prominent Turkish designers, selected by MoMA New York. The collection, which will reach a world-wide audience via the online MoMA Store, will also be available exclusively at the IKSV Design Store in Turkey, from May until the end of November 2011.

The “Destination: Istanbul”, a MoMA-exclusive product collection will include home accessories, furniture, kitchenware, jewelry, and more by 41 designers from Istanbul. Items from the collection include olive wood serving utensils harvested from the Aegean shores of Anatolia, porcelain espresso cups whose wavy silhouettes mimic those of whirling dervishes, and a traditional tea tray fashioned from contemporary materials such as steel and nylon. Other highlights range from abacus-inspired pearl jewelry and a pop-up Plexiglass chess set to colorful packing tape featuring the outline of Istanbul’s dramatic skyline.

Istanbul Seen Through the Eyes of Armenian Photographers

A photo exhibition entitled "We Love Your Istanbul from the 19 Century till Today", has recently opened at the Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church in the Istanbul neighbourhood of Beyoglu.

Ara Guler
On display are the works of sixteen Armenians who have lived or worked in the city from the 1850s. They include Ara Guler, Garbis Yozatay, Sarkis Paharoglu and Yashar Sarachoglu.

Armenian reporter and legal advisor Anna Turay, who is also a founder of the Istanbul Armenians Organization, said that the earliest photo labs in Istanbul were opened by Armenians back in the 19 century since Armenians were chemists as well and had strong links to Europe.

April 22, 2011

High Teck Parking in an Art Nouveau Building in Istanbul

Nisantasi is a place where you can easily see famous people walking on the street any time during a day. You can have a cup of coffee at the Armani Café or go shopping at the nearby Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Hermes, Chanel or any other famous boutiques within walking distance.

During the last decade Istanbuls premier shopping street, the Abdi Ipeksi Street, developed into a place hosting luxury retail shopping venues. With a monthly lease price of about 3.500 US$ / m it is currently the most expensive street for retail stores in Turkey.

Hence it meant a lot to the city mayor to sustain this prestigious neighborhood and provide high class habitat to the residents and visitors.

To keep the streets free of cars and provide more space to live, the city municipality searched for an innovative and sophisticated solution, suitable to the attractive Nisantasi district.

With Wöhr Automatic Parking System Parksafe 580, only 450 m of the precious ground was required to host 276 car parking places on 15 levels above ground.

Textile Treasures of Turkish Armenian Patriarchate Revealed in a Book

After 10 years of in-depth research of the archives and repositories of the Armenian Orthodox Church, two professors from the United States have published a book about the church’s treasures.

The Turkish Armenian Patriarchate opened its doors to Archaeology Professor Ronald T. Marchese and Textile Professor Marlen R. Breu in 1998. The two researchers then spent the next decade examining and cataloguing many of the church’s artifacts, mostly from the 18th and 19th century though some were over 300 years old. Mesrop II, who has been fighting dementia since 2007, authorized the professors to carry out the inaugural study of the church’s textile treasures.

This thorough, comprehensive research has been published in a book titled “Splendor and Pageantry – Textile Treasures from the Armenian Orthodox Churches of Istanbul.” The book, in English and Turkish, includes color photos of many of the treasures.

Festival to Shed Light on ‘Unknown Cinemas’

Between the dates of May 11-17 Istanbul will host the Bilinmeyen Sinemalar (Unknown Cinemas) film festival, an event presenting films from a range of lesser developed countries that neither are able to have theatrical release abroad, nor are widely featured in the international festival circuit.

The event will be held on the sidelines of the upcoming Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries, scheduled for May 9-13 in Istanbul.

A total of 35 feature films from the likes of Senegal, Burkina Faso, Bengal and Bhutan will be screened free of charge in a range of venues including the Beyoğlu Cinema, the Tarık Zafer Tunaya Cultural Center and the Moda Cinema in Kadıköy, the Anatolia news agency reported this week.

Photo Exhibition Explores the ‘Resilience’ of Latin America

A travelling exhibition challenging the representation of Latin American countries in the world media and offering a new perspective for understanding the continent’s inhabitants is currently on display at the Milli Reasürans Art Gallery in Istanbul’s Teşvikiye neighborhood.

Titled “Resiliencia” (Resilience), the show was part of the 2009 edition of the prestigious PHotoEspaña International Festival of Photography and Visual Arts in Madrid. Descubrimientos PHE (Discoveries PHE), the festival’s portfolio review, offering photographers from different countries the opportunity to present their work, devoted its 2009 year review to photographers in Latin American countries and it has just now reached Turkey as part of its world tour.

The show’s curator, Claudi Carreras Guillén, explains that he is especially interested in the role of the photograph as a vector of communication in a social context and that, precisely because the traditional media have preferred to look the other way, it is important to examine all available possibilities to generate sustainable spaces that allow social interest projects to be made visible. “One of the most often heard local criticisms is that the foreign curators get carried away by the paradigms that traditionally have marked the international presence of Latin American creations and leave no room for proposals that do not fit into stereotypical and superficial approximation of the local reality,” he says in an interview with Today’s Zaman.

In order to not repeat this kind of mistake, the curator has selected photographers who are concerned with showing the changes that are occurring in their surroundings and who also reflect on the role of the image in the contemporary world and question the usual paradigms. “I have been especially careful to reflect on the stereotypes that are usually presented when approaching photography in Latin America. I have tried to present a selection that does not fall directly into the most common paradigms,” he explains.