September 26, 2011

Joint Project Explores the Tale of Two Cities

Siemens Sanat’s first joint project with Germany’s Bayerische Staatskanzlei, Cityscale, is inviting viewers to think critically about the urban texture of Munich and Istanbul through the works of arts on display.

Cityscale is an effort to keep the relations and cultural exchange established as early as the 1990s between the contemporary artists of both cities alive. The event, which is a first of its kind, is the result of a three-year-long collaboration between the artists.

The artworks on display are of various genres ranging from installations in public places to video work. The event will also stage exhibition presentations and panels. The contents of the event on the whole aim at creating space for critical thinking about the essence of the two cities by making use of the particular visual details of them both.

Cityscale runs through to Nov. 13, and the gallery is open every day from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Siemens Sanat is located on Meclis-i Mebusan Street No.45 in the Fındıklı neighborhood of Beyoğlu district. 

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Joint Project Explores the Tale of Two Cities

Turkey’s Dual Purpose ‘Office Museum’ Opens

The 100-year-old Yusuf Ziya Paşa mansion, owned by Borusan Holding, has been turned into a dual purpose contemporary art ‘office museum’ thanks to efforts by the company. The office museum, which will be the first of its kind in Turkey, will be open to the public during weekends.

Speaking during the press conference, Borusan Holding managing director Ahmet Kocabıyık said: “Borusan contemporary has two main missions. One is to share its contemporary art collection with the public and the other is to increase interest in contemporary art in Turkey.”

The most important part of the collection is that all of these works belong to new media art, he said.

The collection comprises works in diverse techniques ranging from video to photography, from painting to installation, and from light sculpture and canvas painting, he said.

Functioning as an exhibition space with creative artworks during the weekends and as an active office space during the weekdays, the Borusan Contemporary Office Museum is an extraordinary model and a laboratory for experiencing a lifestyle symbiotic with contemporary art.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Turkey’s Dual Purpose ‘Office Museum’ Opens

September 23, 2011

Istanbul Modern Turns Spotlight on Dreams and Reality of Turkish Women in Art

As the sun set over the Bosporus and the crowds milling around the Antrepo 3 and 5 warehouses hosting the 12th İstanbul Biennial thinned, the somewhat better looking neighbor of the hulking converted warehouses, İstanbul Modern, was having a party of its own with the press conference of the contemporary art space’s latest exhibition, “Dream and Reality -- Modern and Contemporary Women Artists from Turkey.” 

A broad selection of works, the display, centered on the position of female artists in modern and contemporary arts, seeks to offer a new and alternative perspective on the socio-cultural history of Turkey. 

Speaking at the official press conference on Thursday evening, museum chairman and co-founder Oya Eczacıbaşı explained that the works exhibited in the display were chosen with a view to reflect the evolution of women’s perspectives toward art in Turkey and recognizing their contributions throughout history. “The contribution of women to contemporary art in Turkey is a considerable one and there can sometimes be a tendency to forget this. What this exhibition essentially aims to do is to paint a vibrant picture of Turkey’s pioneering female artists who have made headway in the development of contemporary art, exhibited works in important international collections and contributed to new innovations, and share this with the world,” she said.

Eczacıbaşı also explained that the exhibition, which will present the works of 74 artists spanning a wide spread of art forms, from paintings to video installations, examines the identity of women in Turkish modern art circles and how their unusual and rich works across a variety of disciplines have reflected societal and cultural changes, including issues such as patriarchy, violence and migration.

Read more on Zaman: Istanbul Modern Turns Spotlight on Dreams and Reality of Turkish Women in Art

Istanbul’s old Galata Lodge Readies for Opening after a Four-Year Restoration

Galata Mevlevihane, the lodge used by Mevlevi dervishes built in 1491 in Istanbul, the Ottoman capital city, has been restored and is anticipating its official opening.

“We are ready to open the museum,” Galata Mevlevihane Museum Director Yavuz Özdemir said, adding that the museum was expected to open this month. “We are waiting for the order from the Culture and Tourism Ministry.”

Located on Galip Dede Street near İstiklal Avenue, Istanbul’s unique original dervish lodge will open to visitors in the coming days with a new facelift after a four-year restoration process.

“The large garden of the dervish lodge has been restored for use as an area where people can escape the crowds of Beyoğlu,” he said. The Galata Mevlevihane was closed to visitors in 2007 and restored with contributions from the Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture Agency.

Speaking to the Anatolia news agency, Özdemir said the Ottoman traveler Evliya Çelebi mentioned in his travel books that the dervish lodge had included nearly 100 rooms.

The lodge was damaged in an earthquake in 1509. It has undergone restoration work since the early 17th century and additional structures turned the site into a social complex, according to a document from the museum’s archive, Özdemir said.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Istanbul’s old Galata Lodge Readies for Opening after a Four-Year Restoration

Istanbul Rising

Istanbul's art scene is mushrooming, aided by the recent openings of nonprofit art spaces like Garanti Bank's Salt, Vehbi Koç Foundation's Arter-Space for Art and Borusan Holding's ArtCenter Istanbul. Their arrival may give a boost to a longtime also-ran in the art-biennial pack—the Istanbul Biennial, an exhibition of contemporary art that opens Saturday and runs through Nov. 13 at the Antrepo warehouses. 

Biennials typically serve as breakout moments for hot young artists, but biennial co-curator Adriano Pedrosa and collaborator Jens Hoffman said they scoured for older, overlooked artists whose works may still feel revelatory. Case in point: Teresa Burga, a Peruvian artist who compiled a self-portrait from drawings and a sheaf of medical records. 

Much of the art is bundled into five group shows; each takes its theme from a work of art created by Félix González-Torres, a Cuban sculptor known for using everyday items like candies and light bulbs to confront personal and societal woes like AIDS. 

Read more on The Wall Street Journal: Istanbul Rising

Paris Hilton Launches Her Shoe Line in Istanbul

Paris Hilton touched down at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport at about 11:30 p.m. on Tuesday where she was welcomed by her "Istanbullu" fans. "I am very excited about being back in Istanbul, it is a very beautiful city. I missed the Bosphorus Tour in Istanbul and her night clubs," Hilton told reporters minutes after she arrived from London.

As soon as she landed, Hilton took to Twitter to inform her fans, saying: "Hey everyone! I arrived to Turkey and I am already well into enjoying my stay. Our hotel is absolutely breathtaking and cannot wait to see the rest of the city, I love coming here!" 

Read more on Just Luxe: Paris Hilton Launches Her Shoe Line in Istanbul

Explore Your Own Personal Istanbul At New SALT Show

“Public order is a pathetic metropolitan demand.” 
“Decadence is the discourse which justifies the clean[s]ing of the uncommon, marginal, etc.” 
“Everything can be sacrificed in the name of security.” 

These sentences, defining various concepts as they apply to today’s Istanbul, are a few examples of the work being presented in SALT Beyoğlu’s new show, “Becoming Istanbul.” On the third floor of this unconventional exhibition, viewers are invited to sit in front of large computer screens and navigate through a database of over 400 artistic works, videos, photographs, caricatures, news videos and architectural projects produced between 1999 and 2011. 

These works are categorized with tags selected from a list of 80 concepts, such as public order, decadence and security. In turn, the concepts have been defined on the basis of the works they describe. On the other side of the floor, visitors can walk among curtains on which the concepts and definitions are written. 

In an interview with Today’s Zaman, the project’s leader, Meriç Öner, explained that the goal of “Becoming Istanbul” is to question customary representations of Istanbul -- from the East and the West, and from Istanbulites and outsiders -- by viewing all available material in one single platform. 

“There are various adjectives and labels that have been attributed to this city for centuries; and there is also a city that we live in today with its daily life, its population of 13 million, its more than 5,000 square kilometers, its hardships, and its potential, related to its ongoing process of transition and transformation,” she says, noting that the concepts chosen to describe or discuss the city may be similar to many other metropolises, such as New York, London or Dubai, but the contexts in which they are used vary. “For instance, when we look at the projects which have been seemingly open to involvement over the last 10 to 15 years in Istanbul, we say that ‘involvement is a method of manipulation.’ Of course, this definition may change in time according to developments in the city,” she adds. 

Istanbul’s Rising Popularity Attracts International Hoteliers

Thanks to a huge rise in the attractiveness to tourists of Turkey’s largest city, international hoteliers have chosen Istanbul as a new major investment destination, a recent report by the Touristic Hotels and Investors Association (TUROB) has shown.

According to the TUROB report, there are currently about 100 hotels under construction in Istanbul, 39 of which will be five-star hotels. It is expected that the completion of these hotels in two years’ time will add 20,000 beds to İstanbul’s hospitality sector. 

The Hilton Garden Inn, Crowne Plaza, Radisson Blu, Ramada, Holiday Inn Express, Marriott, Novotel, Ibis, Le Meridien and others will either enter the hospitality sector or expanding their existing network in this giant city of over 13 million people (as of 2010).

Read more on Today's Zaman: Istanbul’s Rising Popularity Attracts International Hoteliers

Istanbul City Portrait - Timelapse Movie in HDTV

"This movie was shot in 2005, and belongs to a series of city portraits.
This video was made with no commercial purpose."

The Istanbul Biennial: Vintage is the new vanguard

VIRTUALLY every day of the year sees another art biennial opening somewhere in the world. The role of these exhibitions is to showcase contemporary art, attract affluent tourists and stimulate local culture. Most biennials are a sprawling mess—and the worst look like commercial art fairs studded with brand-name trophies. However, those that succeed in making sense of some aspect of global culture can be both enlightening and memorable. This year’s Istanbul Biennial, which opened on September 17th and runs for almost two months, is a case in point. 

Poignant, relevant and intellectually engaging, it has managed to create a coherent exhibition out of works by 130 artists from 41 countries—a rare achievement.The Istanbul Biennial is held in two huge former warehouses on the banks of the Bosporus. Untamed, the buildings would force viewers into a monotonous marathon of spectatorship. 

The biennial also has an intelligent structure. There are five group shows around the main themes that inspired González-Torres’s work—love, death, abstraction, contested histories and territories. Each group show occupies a large grey room and acts as a hub for a cluster of solo shows featuring 50 artists, all in smaller white rooms. 

Read more on The Economist: The Istanbul Biennial: Vintage is the new vanguard

September 15, 2011

The Best of Istanbul by The Guardian

Istanbul's many attractions include towering minarets, underground Byzantine cisterns and steamy bathhouses. Pat Yale selects the places to visit

10 of the Best Sights in Istanbul

Istanbul boasts a night out for all tastes, from Gypsy haunts to the city's most outrageous gay club, Izzy Finkel & Tom Roueché picks 10 of the best

10 of the Best Clubs in Istanbul

Istanbul isn't all about kebabs and meze. This food lover's city is also crazy about freshly caught seafood, served everywhere from shacks to riverside restaurants, say the Istanbul Eats bloggers

10 of the Best Fish Restaurants in Istanbul

Istanbul's lokantas, or 'tradesmen's restaurants', are where the locals go for fast, fresh home-style cooking and a lively atmosphere. The Istanbul Eats bloggers select 10 of the best...

10 of the Best Lokantas in Istanbul

Istanbul is a frenetic city – but its citizens also know how and where to slow down. Pinar Hilal Vurucu picks 10 places to stop for coffee, watch the city go by, and hang out with locals

10 of the Best Outdoor Cafes and Hangouts in Istanbul

The Istanbul fashion scene is a reflection of the city's vibrant youthfulness. Elle Turkey editor Seda Yilmaz selects the best shops, from cutting-edge designer to vintage haute couture

10 of the Best Fashion Boutiques in Istanbul

From hidden gems in the Grand Bazaar to smoky bookshops in the back streets of Beyoğlu, Tom Roueché hunts down Istanbul's fast-disappearing antique treasures

10 of the Best Antiques Shops in Istanbul

Malcolm Burgess picks 10 literary tributes to Istanbul, from a history of Constantinople to a literary trail through the city by Nobel Prize-winner Orhan Pamuk...

10 of the Best Books Set in Istanbul

From Turkish versions of Tarzan and Dracula to wintry weepies, via (whisper it) Midnight Express, Fiachra Gibbons picks out the best films shot in Istanbul

10 of the Best Films Set in Istanbul

See & Read more on The Guardian's Istanbul Guide

Istanbul in Pictures

To coincide with the launch of Guardian Istanbul city guide, Guardian editors have chosen some of local photographer Ufuk Sarisen's best images...

See more on The Guardian: Istanbul in Pictures

September 13, 2011

Bullish on Istanbul: Art Beat Director Arhan Kayar on the Turkish City's New Upstart Fair

This week the opening of the Istanbul Biennial will once again put the city's art scene in the international spotlight. Besides the main exhibition — curated by Jens Hoffman and Adriano Pedrosa — every single art space in town is readying itself to welcome the art world about to descend en masse. Kutluğ Ataman is at Arter, Sarah Morris at Dirimart, and both SALT and Istanbul Museum of Modern Art are holding ambitious group shows. Still, there is a big absence: the Turkish capital's main art fair, Istanbul Contemporary, won't open until next November.

Art Beat Istanbul, September 14-18, seized this unmissable opportunity to help local galleries benefit from Istanbul's visibility this September. The first edition, which opens on Wednesday, gathers 28 mostly Istanbul-based galleries at the Lütfi Kirdar Convention & Exhibition Center. Art Beat Istanbul's director Arhan Kayar talked to ARTINFO UK about the local art market, the role of private patrons in the Turkish art scene, and the international ambitions of his fledgling art fair.

Read more on Art Info: Bullish on Istanbul: Art Beat Director Arhan Kayar on the Turkish City's New Upstart Fair

Istanbul Fashion Week 2011

The fifth Istanbul Fashion Week (IFW) started Wednesday and lasted four days with a total of 22 invitation-only runway shows for 22 different designers and five brands. The budget for the whole event - supported by the Istanbul and Beyoðlu municipalities - was approximately 1 million euros. 

On its first day, the 600-person capacity IFW tent hosted runway shows by the Argende and Tween brands in addition to individual and combined fashion shows by designers Ýpek Arnas, Aslý Güler, Jale Hürdoðan and Atýl Kutoðlu. American actor, director and screenwriter Matt Dillon was among the audience for Tween brand's fashion show. 

Read more on Just Luxe: Istanbul Fashion Week 2011

‘Bach in Istanbul Opens with Five Bachs

If everyone presented the music of Johann Sebastian Bach like Hakan Erdoğan, the old German Baroque master would be on the tip of everyone’s tongue.

Erdoğan has a way of presenting music of any genre and giving it a new lease of life. His ninth annual “Bach in İstanbul,” running through Sept. 23, takes the stiffness out of Baroque and puts the hipness in.

Part of his formula is putting on his concerts in unusual places, such as cisterns, jails, boats and even places to celebrate the full moon. His most recent series was “Jazz in Ramadan” in Topkapı Palace’s courtyard. For “Bach in İstanbul” he’s using three venues in Beyoğlu: two churches and Garajistanbul -- not that offbeat, but definitely not stuffy concert halls. Another strategy is finding interesting international artists who represent the authentic and/or take the spirit of the authentic and twist it around to create something entirely unique. Even his printed programs are not the norm; they’re more like an art school project.

The series of seven concerts comprising “Bach in İstanbul” began on Sept. 8 and 9 at St. Antoine Church and Santa Maria Church, respectively, featuring the European Union Baroque Orchestra (EUBO). This is no ordinary orchestra. It’s actually an educational program founded in 1985 and funded by members of the European Union. EUBO is based in Oxford, UK, and Echternacht, Luxembourg, and was created specifically as a project intended to tour for six months. Practically speaking, it’s not only a bridge for music conservatory students to use as a springboard into the professional world, but it’s intrinsically a cultural ambassadorship for the European Union. Its musical focus is solely Baroque performance practice, a style that represents the European music of 300 years ago and a specific discipline that is often overlooked by conservatories. The members of this orchestra put aside their modern instruments and invested in Baroque versions for a new career path.

Read more on Zaman: ‘Bach in Istanbul Opens with Five Bachs

Street Art Exhibition 'Stars of Istanbul' Launches to Benefit UNICEF Turkey

‘Stars of Istanbul’ is the biggest multi-purpose outdoor arts event to be held in Istanbul for the benefit of UNICEF Turkey. The three-dimensional 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 star-shaped sculptures throughout this autumn. Bringing together the international business world and creative industry, the project draws attention to the ‘Brighter Future for Children’ movement.

Stars of Istanbul indeed sets a good example of how art can be a part of our everyday street life in a way that is exciting and entertaining. Adorning Istanbul’s most fashionable corners with hundreds of stars, the project creates the setting whereby the art and artists meet millions of people on the streets— thanks to the contributions from many socially-responsible national and international organizations.

Read more on Just Luxe: Street Art Exhibition 'Stars of Istanbul' Launches to Benefit UNICEF Turkey

Danish Artist Paints Walls of Istanbul’s Art Gallery

Danish artist Morten Andersen started painting walls 20 years ago. “I have been painting for whole my life,” he said. Andersen was in Istanbul attending an exhibition at the Art On the Gallery, found in Akaretler. Andersen also painted a wall in the gallery.

He started as a graffiti artist. “For ten years I have painted walls, but later on, painting walls might be boring.”

Andersen aimed to develop his technique and his material. “That’s why I have moved to canvas paintings.”

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Danish Artist Paints Walls of Istanbul’s Art Gallery

September 11, 2011

Bond Flick to Be Shot in Istanbul

Secret agent 007 is coming to Istanbul. James Bond, one of Hollywood’s most enduring characters, will have new adventures in the city’s historical neighborhood Sultanahmet in the next film in the series. Director Sam Mendes has received permission from Turkish Culture Minister Ertuğrul Günay to shoot scenes for the film in Sultanahmet Square.

“Shooting will start within the next few months. We have discussed the issue and rather than closing the square completely, some parts could be partially closed from time to time for the filming,” Günay said, adding that it would be difficult to close the whole square. “We have to consider our tourists, but we can accommodate foreign film production companies that want to use Turkey as a platform.”

The film will be released in 2012 and has further importance as the series will celebrate its 50th anniversary. Actor Daniel Craig will play Bond for the third time.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Bond Flick to Be Shot in Istanbul

Akbank Jazz Fest to Feature Top Names, Young Talents

One of Turkey’s longest-running music festivals has announced its program for this year, a lineup that includes shows by world-renowned jazz artists, workshops, panel discussions, competitions, jazz brunches and “Jazz at Campus” concerts.

The 21st edition of the Akbank Jazz Festival, which runs from Oct. 13 to Nov. 3 in Istanbul, will open at the Cemal Reşit Rey Concert Hall with a show by the Arild Andersen Trio, a group that has had a successful run on European stages.

One of the most important double bassists in Scandinavian jazz since the 1970s, Norwegian bassist Andersen was named musician of the year at France’s Academie de Jazz awards in 2008 and has released countless albums. He is joined in the trio by legendary Scottish saxophonist Tommy Smith and Italian drummer Paolo Vinaccia.

The Maffy Falay Sextet, founded by important Turkish trumpet player Muvaffak “Maffy” Falay, will take the stage at the Cemal Reşit Rey Concert Hall on Oct. 14. Falay has shared a stage with masters such as Phil Woods and played for Quincy Jones’ orchestra in the 1960s. After moving to Sweden, he joined Dizzy Gillespie’s Reunion Orchestra.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Akbank Jazz Fest to Feature Top Names, Young Talents

IFW Belongs to Designers This Year

The fifth Istanbul Fashion Week, or İFW, started Wednesday and will run until Sunday.

In a departure from previous years, there was no state protocol, no opening ceremony and no presentation of plaques this time around.

In Turkey, Europe’s second and the world’s fourth largest textile supplier, a new generation of designers are emerging, and the fashion week that is taking place at the center of Beyoğlu, one of Istanbul’s most historical centers, is hosting a great number of young Turkish designers.

The goal in the minds of this year’s IFW organizers is to establish the city as the fashion capital of the region. Istanbul-based designers are not only showcasing their work for the global fashion press, they are also trying to connect with foreign markets.

In total, 22 fashion shows are taking place with the contribution of 22 designers and five brands during the week. The budget for the whole event, which is also being supported by the Istanbul and Beyoğlu municipalities, is 2 million Turkish Liras. Turkish Airlines is sponsoring the transport, while M.A.C. is responsible for all the models’ makeup during the shows.

Over 100 foreign members of the press coming from France, Italy, Spain, Russia, the United Kingdom and the Middle East are here as part of their coverage of Spring-Summer 2012 fashion shows. In addition to this, buyers from France, Italy, Spain, Russia and Lebanon are here to place orders.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: IFW Belongs to Designers This Year

September 07, 2011

12th Istanbul Biennial

Biennials in the 21st century may well have become sprawling behemoths bogged down by abstruse titles and weighty thematic concerns.

But the curators of the 12th Istanbul Biennial (17 September-13 November) aim to challenge how these vast exhibitions are conceived and developed worldwide.

Rio de Janeiro-born Adriano Pedrosa, the co-curator of the 27th Bienal de São Paulo (2006), and Jens Hoffmann, the director of the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts in San Francisco, will present works by more than 110 artists in five group shows surrounded by clusters of solo exhibitions, 56 in total, at a single central site.

The Antrepo complex of former warehouses, dating from the early 20th century, is on the banks of the Bosphorus alongside the Istanbul Modern.

The art of Felix Gonzalez-Torres, the Cuban-US artist who died of an Aids-related illness in 1996, is the stimulus for the ­exhibition.

The group shows are organised under the titles “Untitled (Abstraction)”; “Untitled (History)”; “Untitled (Passport)”; “Untitled (Ross)” and “Untitled (Death by Gun)”, with the latter three sections specifically referring to works by Gonzalez-Torres.

“The beauty of his work is that it was always very political and at the same time very personal and formally progressive,” said Hoffmann. The art of politics The 12th edition follows in the tradition of previous biennials that have also explored a ­political dimension.

Pedrosa and Hoffmann stress that they want to contextualise the event in relation to earlier Istanbul biennials and other international exhibitions.

Read more on The Art Newspaper: 12th Istanbul Biennial

Istanbul's Historical Peninsula to Launch Smart Bike Project

Locals and tourists alike will soon be able to explore the area of İstanbul known as the historical peninsula with a new form of public transportation -- bicycle. 

With Fatih Municipality's Smart Bike Project cyclists will be able to safely pedal through the streets of Beyazıt, Çemberlitaş, Eminönü, Gülhane, Sirkeci and Sultanahmet. The public bike transportation system, which includes the establishment of a 10-bike terminal on the historical peninsula, will be implemented in three to four months, Fatih Municipality Mayor Mustafa Demir told the Anatolia news agency. 

“At first there will be 111 bicycles. Of these, 45 will be hybrids and 10 will be specifically designed for the disabled. We got the hybrid bikes for downhill routes. We chose these as they are more comfortable and easier to use,” he said. 

The new public transportation system will enable members of the public to use a special card to check out a bicycle at one station and check it back in at any other station. Demir gave the example that sightseers will soon be able to simply swipe a credit card and rent a bike from Eminönü and then leave it at the Grand Bazaar to go shopping. 

Read more on Zaman: Istanbul's Historical Peninsula to Launch Smart Bike Project

Beautiful "Galata" pictures from the web

Istanbul, Turkey: Old City, New Spirit

"Today I have walked around one of the greatest cities on Earth, if not the greatest," said Gore Vidal, surveying the scene from a party yacht on the Bosphorus, as the Ottoman palaces, moonlit mosques and neon-lit skycrapers of Istanbul drifted by. 

This was high praise indeed from one of America's most abrasive political thinkers, here for the Liberatum arts festival of which this nocturnal cruise was a part. On the deck above, DJ Jefferson Hack threatened to drown out the great man's words with thundering techno beats. 

"In the birthplace of Pan, scenes like these with wine and song are not inappropriate," said Vidal, taking in the fashionistas milling about him: model Lily Cole swaying with local counterparts; Franca Sozzani, editor-in-chief of Italian Vogue, chatting to Wallpaper* editor Tony Chambers; French artists exchanging notes with Istanbul architects. "This, after all, was the centre of civilisation, of great wine and great thought," Vidal reflected. 

Istanbul has long been a lure for classicists in search of inspiration and for travellers in pursuit of the exotic. A hundred years ago, it was the furthest east a sensible British traveller might go: the final destination for the Orient-Express, a place where one could sip Bordeaux or Earl Grey in the Pera Palace hotel, stock up on silk carpets in the Grand Bazaar and indulge in a hammam by day and a good hotel by night. It was the final frontier where the Christian world met its Muslim counterpart: a quiet, civilised city of fewer than a million people.

Read more on The Telegraph: Istanbul, Turkey: Old City, New Spirit

10 of the Best Markets in Istanbul

Çarşamba A sprawling weekly affair in an ultra-conservative area, the enormous Fatih Çarşamba (Wednesday) market – flogging fruit and veg, eggs and cured meats, outrageous stilettos, gadgets, branded clothing and, well, everything at rock-bottom prices – is not a place for the faint-hearted. Disorganised and wholly unruly, relentless sellers on table-tops wade among overflowing wares, bellowing prices and bagging goods at the slightest sign of interest. Favoured by locals, tourists are refreshingly absent, so keep the cameras under wraps, adopt a steely visage and don't hold back from joining swarms of angry mothers raking through mountains of clothing, as these will, no matter how unlikely it seems, produce the occasional gem. Bags and loved ones should be kept close at all times.
• Kirmasti Mahellesi, 34083 Fatih

Inebolu A genuine Istanbul "foodie" can be defined by their affinity with the Inebolu Sunday market, an Anatolian culinary carnival located in the downtown grime of Beyoğlu's Kasimpaşa district. Tobacco-chewing sellers from the Inebolu Black Sea region of Turkey set off in their lorries on Saturday night to arrive in Istanbul at the crack of dawn, laden with the finest organic produce; chunky slabs of corn bread, bushels of fragrant herbs, thick pastes and purees, crates of eggs, bright flowers, splitting sacks of grain, walnuts and hazelnuts and bins of glistening olives. With beady-eyed punters beginning their forage as early as 6am, shalwar-clad damsels and their moustached counterparts police topsy-turvy stalls in a chorus of discordant bellows. A trip to Anatolia and back again – and all before breakfast. Shuts up shop early, at 4pm.
• Toprak Tabya Sokak, 34440 Küçük Piyale

Spice bazaar A short walk from the Grand Bazaar, the 17th-century Eminönü Egyptian Spice Bazaar, open seven days a week, is another favourite of the camera-wielding, souvenir-seeking tourist. A bustling gastronomic paradise since 1664, this is the best place to pick up dried fruits and nuts, spices, olives, Turkish delight, oils and essences of the finest order. Bronze curios glint in the sun, torpedo-sized dates are stacked to the rafters, and the decadent scent of freshly ground Mehmet Efendi coffee merges with the aroma of fresh fish, with surprisingly non-toxic consequences. Marriage proposals should only be entertained if they involve free Turkish delight.
• Sururi Mahellesi, 34120 Fatih

Sahaflar One thing you will not find in abundance at Turkish street markets is books. But the old booksellers' market in Beyazit is a haven of old volumes. A leafy city oasis located between the Grand Bazaar and Beyazit Mosque, under a canopy of chestnut and acacia trees, the 15th-century market and its associated tea garden was a hotspot for prominent poets, academics and authors in the mid-20th century, and now hosts 23 bookstores. Stationery, calligraphy materials, textbooks, novels and foreign and holy literature, Sahaflar has it all. Huddles of elderly, tobacco-chewing gents peddle watches, badges, old coins and trinkets, , although it's never entirely clear who is working and who is just hanging around for a chat.
• Çadircilar Caddesi, Beyazit Mahallesi, 34126

Tarlabaşi A short stroll from the bright lights of Taksim's Istiklal Street, the hard-knock residential area of Tarlabaşi – an area associated with unemployment, crime and prostitution – is not the first destination that comes to mind when directing earnest travellers. Yet surprisingly, the rough-and-readyTarlabaşi Sunday food market – a rabbit warren of dusty, uneven streets – boasts a loyal following from all corners of Istanbul society, from penny-pinching Erasmus students to muttering old villagers craving a taste of home. Stall-holders arrive in laden trucks at the crack of dawn, to unload oozing figs with the texture of honey, dazzling fruits, glowing jams of rosehip, apricot and raspberry, and pickled… everything. Economical street shopping at its most authentic.
• Sakiz Ağaci Sokak, Beyoğlu Mahellesi

Grand Bazaar Constructed in 1461, the Grand Bazaar, boasting 5,000 shops, is one of the largest covered markets in the world. Once a vibrant hub of international and local trade, recent decades have seen this labyrinth of glittering delights win the hearts, minds and wallets of wide-eyed tourists in search of the ultimate oriental shopping experience. With beckoning sellers peddling exquisite textiles, pottery, spices, jewellery, lanterns and souvenirs, bartering is an absolute must. However, resist the urge to entertain small boys wielding spinning tops on strings, who will address you as "mother", regardless of age – and, occasionally, gender. At the end of the day, if it gets a bit too bizarre, 22 historical gateways offer ample escape routes.
• The Bazaar is closed Sundays; Divanyolu Caddesi 42, Sultanahmet, 34010

Read more on the Guardian: 10 of the Best Markets in Istanbul

Greeks in Istanbul Cry Tears of Joy for the Return of their Properties

Greeks in Istanbul welcomed Erdogan’s decision to return confiscated property to minorities, with tears of joy in their eyes. As the representative of minority institutions under the General Directorate for Foundations and member of the Greek minority of Istanbul, Lakis Vingas, stated to Newsit; “yesterday was a historic day. Mr. Erdogan’s determination is one of a leader, as the issue was solved by a government decision and did not go through general assembly. This is evidence to Mr. Erdogan’s consistency in the progress of issues, faced by minorities here for many decades. We neither received a gift, nor compensation; we simply took back what belonged to us. This is justice and what we have been waiting for. We are now in the third phase of the return of minority properties and are very satisfied. 

From now on, we should be mindful not only for the return of property, but also for the proper management and future course of the entire property. For us, for example, the return of the Galata School is very important. In addition, a large property we own in the Kantyli community, some Monasteries and other properties and of course cemeteries”. 

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These Desperate Housewives are from Istanbul

A local production of the iconic hit series “Desperate Housewives” is to bring a new take on the series’ darkly comedic view of suburbia to Turkish audiences. The series, to be known as “Umutsuz Ev Kadinlari”, will be co-produced by Medyapim and Disney, and is to air on free to air channel Kanal D later this month.

The series’ well-known Turkish cast includes Songül Öden (Gümüş) as Susan (to be called Suzan), Bennu Yildirimlar as Bree (called Berrin), Evrin Solmaz as Gabrielle (called Yildiz) and Ceyda Duvenci as Lynette (called Leyla). The series will be filmed on location in Istanbul, where a local Wisteria Lane has been found. Production will closely follow the format and story lines of the original U.S. version, with a uniquely Turkish flavor.

In the U.S., the show is headed into its eighth and final season. Since 2006, four different versions have been produced for Latin American audiences.

Famed Train Back in Istanbul

The Çırağan Palace has just completed a decade of catering Ottoman food onboard the world-renowned Venice Simplon-Orient-Express for its arrival to Istanbul. 

 The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, which inspired Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock and many others, departed from Paris on Sept. 2, 2011, and will arrive in Istanbul today, after a journey through Budapest, Bucharest and Varna. 

 Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Famed Train Back in Istanbul

September 05, 2011

Multi-author Book on Istanbul Explores the City

A new book titled “Istanbul in World Literature,” once again reveals how Istanbul has attracted thousands of world-renowned writers through the years.

The book, which is published by the Library and Publishing General Management Foundation, reveals the cultural heritage of Istanbul while also presenting the comments and writings of writers who visited Istanbul and wrote about the city.

 The book further serves as a scholarly text as academics write about their own thoughts about the writings of famous writers, such as Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Ernest Hemingway and Gerard De Nerval. Articles in the book feature texts about Istanbul and the city’s cultural heritage, as well as articles outlining how it was damaged and ruined during years of war.

 Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Multi-author Book on Istanbul Explores the City

Poetic Scripts Adorn Gravestones of Yore

Some of the gravestones stand upright, some at an angle or fallen to the ground. All are taller than they are wide, are capped with headgear of some kind and have writing on them in the Ottoman Arabic script. They are surrounded by stately cypress trees and overshadowed from place to place by flowers. To the Western eye, many of Istanbul’s cemeteries look unkempt. After all the city has grown around them but needs money for so many other things; the dead don’t care.

There are numerous cemeteries around Istanbul, not to mention the smaller cemeteries that exist around mosques and other buildings that were involved in religious activities of one sort or another. There are even single graves to be found in odd corners.

Istanbul’s earliest cemetery is in Uskudar: the Karacaahmet Cemetery. Named after a warrior companion of the first Ottoman sultan, it simply grew from its 14th-century founding until now, when it is estimated to contain over a million graves.

Istanbul’s most famous cemetery is in the Golden Horn village of Eyüp. It grew up around the tomb of Eyüp Ansari, a companion of the Prophet Mohammed, who died during a seventh-century siege of Istanbul. The shores and hillsides around the mosque at the site are covered with mausoleums, medreses (religious schools) and graves. Centuries-old cypress trees stand along the streets and amid the graves, giving off the feeling that they are the guardians of peace and rest for the dead bodies buried beneath them.

The most intriguing gravestones are those that have come to us from the Ottoman period. Their form differs from that used by the Seljuk Turks who preceded them in power in Anatolia. These grayish white stones stand tall (or at least they’re supposed to) to mark who is lying between the headstone and the foot.

The inscriptions are in Turkish and in the Ottoman alphabet, which very few can read today. Over time these became rather standardized. The basic form includes the name of the deceased, his father, where the family is from, the words “ruhiycun el-fatiha” (short for reciting the first chapter of the Quran for the soul of the deceased) and the year in which the person died.

Later on, these headstones would even include position and rank and a line or two of poetry. Edhem Eldem writes in his book, “Istanbul’da Ölüm,” that the poems were rhymed, making them easy to remember, and likely were a combination of Iranian literary and oral folk poems. He cites one poem that was particularly popular:

Ziyaretden murad bir duadır; Bugün bana ise yarın sanadır.

The goal from the visit is a prayer, This year for me, tomorrow for you.

Taken generally however, the inscriptions provide information on families and ties with cities and villages throughout the Ottoman Empire, the distribution of religious sects, cultures, invasions, wars and even natural calamities.

On top of the headstone one finds headgear that represents the highest rank a dead man achieved in his lifetime. Huge turbans come from the earlier period and fezzes from the first part of the 19th century. Sometimes the stone is carved with indications of what the deceased did in his life. For example, the gravestone of Kılıç Ali Paşa, who is buried at the late 16th-century mosque that bears his name at Tophane, has anchors and ropes around the inscription, bearing witness to his position as an admiral in the Ottoman fleet.

In earlier centuries, the gravestones for women were square and contained little information, but with time they were elongated, similar to that of men. By the 19th century the headstones on women’s graves were frequently decorated with stylized flowers or the curling tendrils of hanging vines. They too had poems inscribed on them.

Today Ottoman cemeteries are visited more out of curiosity than anything. The Eyüp Municipality for instance has been engaged in serious restoration work among the many graves there. There are millions of graves around Istanbul, some on very choice property, but one can hope that the dead won’t be disturbed in the future.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Poetic Scripts Adorn Gravestones of Yore