July 22, 2011

Jazz Festival Ends on a High Note with Paul Simon

It would be unfair to describe Paul Simon as a mere singer/songwriter. He’s more than that.

It is a fact that he has always inspired others and blazed a trail in music, so there are lots of reasons why he was chosen as one of the 100 People Who Shaped the World by Time magazine in 2006: He deserves it.

The winner of 13 Grammy Awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award, and the first recipient of the Library of Congress’s Gershwin Prize for Popular Song in 2007, this legendary musician of American folk rock and world fusion delivered a fabulous closing to the 18th İstanbul Jazz Festival Tuesday night at the Cemil Topuzlu Open-air Theater.

Read more on Today's Zaman: Jazz Festival Ends on a High Note with Paul Simon

Istanbul to Host Graffiti Art Festival

Bringing in a total of over 60 artists from around Turkey and Europe, Istanbul is getting set to host an international graffiti festival on July 24 in Taksim Gezi Park.

The festival is being organized by Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality to promote and spread graffiti art in Turkey.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Istanbul to Host Graffiti Art Festival

Bulgarian Iron Church's Restoration in Istanbul Starts in August

The Istanbul Municipality and the provincial administration have joined efforts to restore the Bulgarian "St. Stefan" church.

According to Hurriyet Daily News, "the parts of the church that have become dirty and carbonated will be cleaned thoroughly with detergent water, while the missing ornaments on the façade will be replicated using original material. The crooked parts of the roof will also be renewed."

The same publication informs that the restoration is scheduled to begin next month and will cost TRL 2.5 M

The Bulgarian "Saint Stephen" Church, also known as the Bulgarian Iron Church, is a Bulgarian Orthodox church in Istanbul, Turkey, famous for being made of cast iron. The parts were manufactured in Vienna and then transported via the Danube River to Bulgaria and through the Black Sea to Istanbul. The Church was inaugurated in 1898 by Exarch Joseph and marks the beginning of the Bulgarian exarchate.

Read more on Novinite: Bulgarian Iron Church's Restoration in Istanbul Starts in August

July 19, 2011

Rock’n Coke Comes Hot and Loud

Defying the sweltering temperatures, thousands of rock fans turned out in force to enjoy the music as the seventh edition of Istanbul’s Rock’n Coke festival got underway Saturday.

On the opening day of the two-day festival, dubbed the “biggest open-air music festival in the country,” there were some electric performances by Limp Bizkit, Motörhead, Aloe Blacc, 2ManyDJs, The Kooks and many more.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Rock’n Coke Comes Hot and Loud

Buying gold? Try Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar

In Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, traders have been buying and selling gold since 1461, the early days of the Ottoman Empire. Its shops attract between 250,000 and half a million visitors annually.

One Moroccan tourist on a visit to the market told euronews the quality of gold varies from one store to another, but the prices are usually good. “Nevertheless, I always negotiate,” he said.

An estimated 22 billion euros worth of gold is traded at the Grand Bazaar each year.

Read more & Watch the Video on EuroNews: Buying gold? Try Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar

Istanbul Cheaper than Last Year for Expats

The cost of living in Istanbul has fallen sharply over the last year, taking the city to 70th place in a list of most expensive cities around the world, down from 44th, according to Mercer, a global human resources consulting company.

Luanda of oil-rich Angola secured its top spot in the “2011 Cost of Living” list by Mercer, which evaluated 214 cities on six continents in terms of living conditions for expatriates.

More than 200 criteria used in the evaluation included housing, transportation, food, clothes, house goods and entertainment.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Istanbul Cheaper than Last Year for Expats

Ottoman Imperial Cuisine Back on Menu in Istanbul

It's an amateur chef's nightmare: a list of ingredients without instructions on how much to use or how to prepare them.

But for Batur Durmay, owner of what's believed to be the only restaurant in the world that serves Ottoman imperial cuisine, the challenge was inviting.

"Ever since my early childhood, food was the only topic around the family's dinner table. We never talked about politics, sports, music, movies – but we loved to explore anything connected with food," said Durmay. His restaurant, Asitane in Istanbul, takes its cue from the sumptuous feasts of the 16th century. Diners have included royalty and cabinet ministers.

It started with two books: the first ever kitchen ledger of the imperial palace in Topkapi dating from 1469 that listed about 45 dishes served at the Ottoman court, and a book describing the royal festivities of 1539 celebrating the circumcision of Suleiman the Magnificent's sons Cihangir and Beyazit. "That text gave us the names of 100 different dishes served at the circumcision feast, but we still didn't have any recipes, or any ingredients," Durmay says.

Read more on The Guardian: Ottoman Imperial Cuisine Back on Menu in Istanbul

Mixed-Use Zorlu Center Raises Stakes in Istanbul

While Istanbul is often described as a city of contradictions — somehow growing both more Western and more Eastern, more open and more closed — only a few real estate projects have seized on these contrasts as the foundation of a development philosophy.

One that has is the Zorlu Center, a mixed-use extravaganza rising in Zincirlikuyu, on the city’s European shores. This four-tower, five-function and two-theater project aims to provide the city’s most luxurious apartments as well as entertainment for people without a lira to spend.

The Center, scheduled to open by the end of next year, also illustrates the continued dynamism of Istanbul’s high-end real estate market — and of Turkey’s robust economy, scarcely affected by the global downturn that has flattened its neighbor, Greece.

Read more on The New York Times: Mixed-Use Zorlu Center Raises Stakes in Istanbul

Postcard from Tom: In Istanbul, a Calorie-Laden Tour of Turkish Delights

Pickle juice for breakfast? Not exactly how I envisioned kicking off my tour of the food attractions starting near the popular Spice Market in Istanbul. But one of the early lessons of spending the day with tour guide Angelis Nannos — a wiry Greek native with a passion for Turkish traditions that’s shared by his American bosses, the authors of the clever restaurant guide “Istanbul Eats” — is keeping an open mind (and a willing stomach).

So here some pals and I find ourselves, sipping sour vegetable juices in the belly of a warehouse stacked high with bags of coffee beans and equipped with a small kitchen for brewing tea and coffee. Burly workers get up from a worn table to make space for Nannos, his new charges and his purchases from some choice stalls in the market: olives, cheese, that liquid eye-opener from the pickle vendor and simit, Turkey’s equivalent of a bagel, sprinkled with sesame seeds. Our impromptu picnic is served atop sheets of newspaper and accompanied by the comings and goings of the men, who ferry trays of steaming tea and thick coffee to the merchants outside. None of the regulars in this warren of offices and storage, or han, bats an eye when a doctor strolls in and takes the blood pressure of one of the senior characters.

Read more on Washington Post: Postcard from Tom: In Istanbul, a Calorie-Laden Tour of Turkish Delights

July 14, 2011

Istanbul celebrates Opera's most famous Turks

Alexandra Hudson - Besides the requisite arias and comic duets Mozart also tried to include the piercing timbre of the Ottoman janissary bands, whose ear-splitting drums, cymbals and whining reeds had once accompanied the Sultans on their expansive sweep across south eastern Europe.

The result, his "Abduction from the Seraglio" of 1782, is the most famous example of opera's long fascination with Turkish culture, in which composers have seized on Turkish characters or settings to invoke passion and melodrama and mimicked Turkish melodies and instruments.

In celebration of this trend the Turkish state opera has brought the Ottoman-inspired works of Western classical composers as well as of Turkish opera composers to some of Istanbul's most famous outdoor settings this month -- including the Sultans' former homes, the Topkapi palace and Yildiz palace.

The festival sees Turkish opera singers in sumptuous costumes portray some of Western music's most famous Turkish characters -- such as Mozart's Osmin, the aggressive but comic keeper of the harem.

Read more on Reuters: Istanbul celebrates Opera's most famous Turks

Javier Limón brings ‘Mujeres de Agua’ to Istanbul

Istanbul’s Cemil Topuzlu Open-air Theater on Friday night will be the stage for an international musical collaboration that draws inspiration from the voices of women singers from around the Mediterranean.

Aptly titled “Mujeres de Agua” ( Women of Water), the project will see four Mediterranean divas -- Buika from Spain, Aynur from Turkey, Rita from Israel and Glykeria from Greece -- present their breathtaking renditions of flamenco tunes by famous Spanish producer, composer and guitarist Javier Limón.

Limón, a winner of five Latin Grammy Awards, embraces and blends together Brazilian, Afro-Cuban and jazz in his music. Limón, as a songwriter and producer, has worked on albums for world music stars including Mariza and Buika, in addition to his previous work with legendary names Paco de Lucía, Enrique Morente and Bebo Valdés. Now he is presenting his third studio album, “Mujeres de Agua,” following his “Limón” and “Son de Limón.”

His new album will have its Turkey debut when the jewels of Mediterranean music, Buika, Aynur, Sandra Carrassco, Rita and Glykeria, share the same stage with Limón on Friday as part of this year’s Istanbul International Jazz Festival.

Read more on Zaman: Javier Limón brings ‘Mujeres de Agua’ to Istanbul

Two Artists Create Alternative ‘Monument to Humanity’

Those walking around Istanbul’s Pangaltı, Elmadağ and Taksim neighborhoods might find it surreal to see a giant hand sculpture being wheeled around on a junk cart. The sculpture, however, is not destined for the scrap yard; instead it is a mobile project by two Dutch artists touching on a current debate between art and politics.

Wouter Osterholt and Elke Uitentuis walk around Istanbul all day with their junk cart with a copy of sculptor Mehmet Aksoy’s long-debated sculpture, the “Monument to Humanity,” placed on top of it and ask people whether they could make a plaster cast mold of their hands.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Two Artists Create Alternative ‘Monument to Humanity’

Jazz Heroines Sing in the Name of Truth in Istanbul

Divas Angelique Kidjo, Dianne Reeves and Lizz Wright embraced an Istanbul audience Tuesday night, not only singing jazz but also the “truth” as part of a tour dedicated to the songs of their favorite female stars.

The three singers provided an enthralling mix of blues, jazz and African music, mesmerizing the audience at the Cemil Topuzlu Open-Air Theater on Tuesday night as part of the ongoing Istanbul Jazz Festival.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Jazz Heroines Sing in the Name of Truth in Istanbul

July 13, 2011

Monument Constructed from Shoes Opens in Istanbul

A monument, built by thousands of pairs of shoes to commemorate Srebrenica massacre victims, was opened at Istanbul's Taksim Gezi Park on Saturday.

Young people of Bosnian descent living in Turkey have initiated a project to commemorate Srebrenica victims and condemn the United Nations on the 16th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre.

A total of 8,372 pairs of shoes, representing the exact number of people killed in this Bosnian town in 1995, have been collected and placed at Taksim Square's Gezi Park.

The monument-- writing "UN", the initials of the United Nations-- was made with 8,372 pairs of shoes in the memory of those killed in the genocide.

Read more on World Bulletin: Monument Constructed from Shoes Opens in Istanbul

$100 Weekend in Istanbul

Yes, the $100 weekend, during which, through sleight of hand, I amaze the world by having a great time in a major city for a preposterously small amount of money. After doing this in New York, Paris and Rio de Janeiro, I have to come clean: I’m just an illusionist. Cosmopolitan metropolises are not the hardest places to live cheaply for a weekend; in fact, they can be the easiest.

Istanbul, like those other cities, is theoretically an expensive place, where a single meal, or even taxis to and from the airport, can run you $100. But all these cities have cheap food galore and free culture that’s yours for the Googling; they are also blanketed by public transportation and unpredictable enough to make delightful surprises almost inevitable. How do you kill two hours in Istanbul without spending a dime? Accidentally bump into a Senegalese music festival right in the heart of Sultanahmet, with the Blue Mosque as a backdrop.

The $100 budget doesn’t account for housing, but I try to stay in the spirit by finding a place to crash for free. This time, I used CouchSurfing, a site on which members post detailed profiles and ask other members to stay at their pads. Scoring a place can be challenging (though I suspect it’s easier if you’re a cute 23-year-old woman from someplace like Ukraine or Hong Kong) but I pulled it off, getting the thumbs up from Erol Fazlioglu, a self-employed engineer who was tickled that we had both memorized the world’s capitals when we were kids, something I had put in my profile. He offered an air mattress in a spare bedroom in his apartment in Kadikoy, on the Asian side of the city.

Read more on The New York Times: $100 Weekend in Istanbul

King of Pop Elton John Woos Istanbul Audience

Pop icon Elton John lived up to all expectations with his marathon three-hour concert at Istanbul’s Küçükçiftlik Park open-air concert area on Tuesday night, rounding off his performance to rapturous applause from an avid Turkish audience.

Treating fans to a range of classic hits spanning his four-decade career, which has seen him sell over 250 million records, this is the second time John has visited Turkey in 18 years.

The visit is part of the Elton John 2011 World Tour, which kicked off on Jan. 26 at the Stade Couvert Régional de Liévin in France, taking the flamboyant superstar to 47 cities across 21 countries.

Read more on Zaman: King of Pop Elton John Woos Istanbul Audience

World’s Biggest Thematic Aquarium Opened in Istanbul Last Week

Aquarium Istanbul has a fish tank capacity of around 7,000 cubic metres, housing 15,000 different aquatic animal species, and it hopes to help Istanbul become one of the leading tourist locations internationally.

Creatures have been sourced from 16 separate regions ranging from the Pacific Ocean to the Black Sea.

The facility was opened by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister of Turkey, alongside the mayor of Istanbul Kadir Topbas.

Read more on National Turk: World’s Biggest Thematic Aquarium Opened in Istanbul Last Week

Harry Potter Movie Sets Travel to Istanbul via Photos

As the final installment in the Harry Potter films is counting down to its release in theaters on July 13, the İstinyePark shopping mall in Istanbul is hosting an exhibition to celebrate the film’s opening in Turkey, featuring a selection of photographs from the sets of all Harry Potter movies since the franchise started in 2000.

The never-before seen behind the scenes photos on display are accompanied by a selection of original costumes and props from the movies. The show opens Monday and will run through July 24 at İstinyePark.

Read more on Zaman: Harry Potter Movie Sets Travel to Istanbul via Photos

Bon Jovi Shakes Istanbul Stage

There is only one reason why Bon Jovi came back to Istanbul, “to make the Turkish girls scream.”

After a triumphant performance, the band deservedly got what it wanted. Before Friday, the Bon Jovi show was dubbed as “the biggest concert of the year,” and it lived up to expectations, if not crushed them, as the 35,000 people present for the American rock giants’ performance at Türk Telekom Arena would tell you.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Bon Jovi Shakes Istanbul Stage

Edward Stourton's Istanbul

The broadcaster Edward Stourton explains his love of Istanbul in Turkey, 'one of the world's great cities'.


When I first visited in the Seventies it seemed a rather sad place. But it's back to what it ought to be: one of the world's great cities.
It's not the first time that Istanbul has gone from being the centre of the world to fading away again – but it's good to see this crossroads between East and West, on the Bosporus, back in business.

Read more on The Telegraph: Edward Stourton's Istanbul

July 04, 2011

Istanbul’s Tourism to Earn $10.2 Billion

Istanbul will top the list of 132 cities whose tourism income will grow the fastest in 2011, expanding at 30.1 percent and reaching a level of $10.2 billion, according to a city index developed by MasterCard Worldwide.

The city’s tourism income will increase by 30.1 percent this year, according to the MasterCard Target Cities Index that was published on Saturday. In terms of tourism income growth rates, Istanbul is followed by Barcelona, Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Istanbul’s Tourism to Earn $10.2 Billion