October 27, 2011

WTA Championships off With a Bang

Turkey is new to hosting the WTA Championships, but the first two days have gone down as a success.

The year-end tournament brings together the top eight players in women’s tennis to Istanbul’s Sinan Erdem Dome. The biggest tennis tournament Istanbul previously hosted was the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Istanbul Cup. From 2005 to last year, the WTA Championship boasted important names, including Venus Williams, Elena Dementieva, Francesca Schiavone and Agnieszka Radwanska, but it was usually played in front of empty seats.

This is the first time Istanbul is hosting the tournament, as the competition was held in Doha, Qatar, for the last three years. But the WTA Championships have shown Turkey’s newfound affection for the sport. More than 10,000 fans filled the arena to 80 percent capacity to watch Petra Kvitova meet Vera Zvonareva, Caroline Wozniacki take on Radwanska and Maria Sharapova face Sam Stosur on Oct. 25. The figures were similar to yesterday’s turnout for the Stosur vs. Victoria Azarenka, Sharapova vs. Li Na and Wozniacki vs. Zvonareva matches.

Zvonareva is among those who heaped praise on the atmosphere.

“It’s a great atmosphere to be in,” she said after losing in straight sets to Wimbledon champion Kvitova. “I didn’t expect something like this.”

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: WTA Championships off With a Bang

‘The Witches of Oz’ Musical to Come to Istanbul

Speech Bubbles is performing “The Witches of Oz,” based on the smash Broadway musical hit “Wicked” at Profilo Shopping Center in Şişli’s Mecidiyeköy area.

Performances will take place on Friday, Oct. 28, Saturday, Oct. 29 and Sunday, Oct. 30. “The Witches of Oz” tells the story of two young witches; one, an insecure outcast, and the other confident and outgoing. Their relationship grows from rivalry to deep friendship as they reconcile their very different viewpoints concerning politics, ambition, and the role of the individual in society. The audience can expect a visit from a certain girl from Kansas, but before that, the show explores the lives of the women who would change her life forever.

“The Witches of Oz” has a serious message enlivened by its witty characters and references to “The Wizard of Oz,” marvelous music, amazing costumes and an uplifting ending. The theater is close to Profilo, has free parking, and is near the metro.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: ‘The Witches of Oz’ Musical to Come to Istanbul

October 26, 2011

Istanbul - An Enchanting Blend of Eastern and Western Culture

Istanbul is truly a world city, a city which everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. It is an enchanting blend of Eastern and Western culture, a vibrant, modern city, with a unique identity, its rich past coexisting alongside its youthful exuberance. Although no longer the capital of Turkey, Istanbul remains the country's cultural and business centre.

It is a city of contrasts, bustling with the cacophony of 21st century life, and yet achingly beautiful. It is set in a stunning location, surrounded by water - the narrow strait of the Bosphorus and the serene Sea of Marmara separating Europe from Asia. Istanbul has a foot in each, celebrating the best of both heritages. As Byzantium, Constantinople and finally, Istanbul, it has been the capital of three Empires, each leaving their mark in the form of stunning palaces, castles, mosques, churches and monuments. The legacy of its chequered past can be seen in every turn of the modern city.

There is so much to see in Istanbul that it is impossible to cover everything. Here are just a few of those sites you simply should not miss...

Uncanny Exhibition at Istanbul Modern

Istanbul Modern hosts “Uncanny Encounters” photography exhibition. The exgibtion features recent works by six younger generation female artists from Turkey, such as Silva Bingaz, Banu Cennetoğlu, Çınar Eslek, Zeren Göktan, Zeynep Kayan, Melisa Önel.

The artists not only deal with the philosophical, socio-cultural, individual, and artistic aspects of uncanny encounters through their visual narratives, but they also explore the possibilities of photography today. The scope of this research will be extended by a series of conversations and meetings featuring the artists and experts.

“Uncanny” (Unheimlich) is a concept employed mainly in art and philosophy to describe the unsettling feeling evoked by something that is strange and foreign, yet astonishingly close and familiar at the same time. Uncanniness has ties to a peculiar sense of “déjà vu,” and implies the unpredictable, the unexpected, the unclear, the recalled, and the uncertain. The first encounter with a photograph generates an uncanny feeling. Certain photographs also present a subject, object, or form which can be uncanny, and the photographer’s own approach may render the visual outcome uncanny.

The exhibition will last until January 22.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Uncanny Exhibition at Istanbul Modern

Aesthetic, Complex Works on Display at Rampa

Ergin Çavuşoğlu’s current “Alterity” exhibition of his sculptures and video works at Istanbul’s Rampa in the Besiktas neighborhood, once again consists of a number of disparate elements. Unveiling a number of new pieces alongside highlights from his repertoire of video works, Çavuşoğlu retraces recurring preoccupations in his practice and shows older work in a new light.

As an artist, Çavuşoğlu explores geographies and informal architecture and reflects them in his creations with aesthetic and complex language.

The centerpiece of the “Alterity” exhibition is a five-screen installation, Crystal & Flame, expanded from its first staging in London in 2010. This work takes its cue from a quote from “Six Memos for the Next Millennium” by writer Italo Calvino, who describes the transformative properties of fire and the phenomenon of crystallization as exemplars of natural forces that echo the competing energies at work in the contemporary city.

Within the weave of the piece itself, form emerges out of flux before becoming re-cast and re-forged. Embodying this process is the filmed rehearsal of a theater play, in which the director (as surrogate for the artist) endeavors to harness the parallel efforts and instincts of the actors, balancing the creative virtues of improvisation with the demands of the script.

A further layer of meaning is bestowed by the play itself, adapted from a short story by Chekhov. In its ambiguous stance on the merits and the limits of freedom, it contrasts a Utopian desire to both seize and change the moment with a somber apprehension of the role of fate.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Aesthetic, Complex Works on Display at Rampa

October 25, 2011

Pera Museum Commemorating Ottomans' Premier Scholar

A new exhibition at the Istanbul Pera Museum is shedding light on the first excavations conducted by American archaeologists in the Ottoman Empire and the relations between the two states through the prism of one of the empire’s most famous scholars, Osman Hamdi Bey.

Exhibited on the third-floor gallery of the Pera Museum, “Osman Hamdi Bey and the Americans: Archaeology, Diplomacy, Art” is based on the intersecting lives of painter, archaeologist and museologist Osman Hamdi Bey, American archaeologist and photographer John Henry Haynes and German-born Assyriologist Professor Hermann Vollrath Hilprecht.

Osman Hamdi Bey (1842-1910), was an important Oriental painter who made substantial and lifelong contributions to various fields of culture and arts such as painting, archaeology, museums and art education.

The show, which began Oct. 15, is being curated by Professor Renata Holod and Professor Robert Ousterhout from the University of Pennsylvania and is displaying a rich selection of paintings by the Ottoman scholar, archaeological photographs and drawings from the 19th century, letters, travel journals, and archaeological artifacts for the first time in Turkey. “The Excavations at the Temple Court in Nippur” and “At the Mosque Door,” two paintings by Osman Hamdi Bey that have rarely been seen before, will also be exhibited for the first time in Turkey.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Pera Museum Commemorating Ottomans' Premier Scholar

Auction Season Starts with Highlights from Turkish Art

Large numbers of works by well-known Turkish artists are going under the gavel across Istanbul as the city’s auction houses start their season with a focus on the country’s contemporary art.

Atika auction house began the auction season last week at the Conrad Hotel, selling Melih Nejad Devrim’s “Chinese Clouds” for 18,000 Turkish Liras. The Beyaz Auction House, meanwhile, will offer 329 works today and tomorrow at the Sofa Hotel following a four-day exhibition that began Oct. 21.

October 24, 2011

Inspiring Exhibition at SODA by French Photographer

Christophe Jacrot’s photographs, currently being exhibited at SODA gallery in Istanbul, claim a visual harmony behind the problematic coexistence of city and nature, while positioning a human agent as a transient onlooker.

SODA hosts French artist Jacrot’s photography exhibition “The Sound of The Rain” from Oct. 14 to Nov. 11. The exhibition is the artist’s first presence in the Turkish art scene. The artist seemed to benefit greatly from his directorial experiences, which allowed him to create a cinematographic effect while he captured on film the rain and snow falling on top of monumental buildings in four big cities: Chicago, New York, Paris and Hong Kong.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Inspiring Exhibition at SODA by French Photographer

Osman Hamdi Bey and the Americans at the Pera Museum

The Pera Museum has long been known for its excellent permanent collection of art dealing with the interaction between the Ottomans and the West. In addition to a permanent exhibit entitled Intersecting Worlds, featuring portraits of Western ambassadors in the Ottoman Empire (and Ottoman ambassadors in Europe), the museum also boasts a superb collection of Orientalist painting, consisting of Western artists’ fanciful depictions of scenes from lands then belonging to the Ottomans.

One name stands out among all the others: Osman Hamdi, commonly known by the title Osman Hamdi Bey. A veritable Renaissance man, Osman Hamdi was one of the leading archaeologists of his time (and the founder of Istanbul’s Archaeology Museum), an author and politician, and a painter of considerable talent. In depicting scenes from his own homeland, the Europhile/Francophile Osman Hamdi favored the Orientalist style of painting employed by Boulanger, with whom he studied in Paris. Osman Hamdi’s emblematic painting The Tortoise Trainer has been part of the Pera Museum’s permanent collection since the museum opened in 2005.

The present show features two paintings by Osman Hamdi from the University of Pennsylvania’s archives, which have never been exhibited in Turkey before. (Many of the pieces in Osman Hamdi Bey and the Americans were displayed at last year’s exhibit Archaeologists and Travelers in Ottoman Lands at the University of Pennsylvania Museum.) The show also focuses on two of Hamdi’s archaeological colleagues, the American photographer John Henry Haynes (fallen into obscurity today but best known in his time for his photographs of the Assos excavations), and the German archaeologist Hermannn Vollrath Hilprecht, who held a position at UPenn in the late 19th century, and who played a leading role in the excavation of the ancient Mesopotamian city of Nippur.

Avoiding museum-exhibit overkill, this small but extremely well-chosen show (curated by Professors Renata Holod and Robert Ousterhout of the University of Pennsylvania) fills a single floor of the Pera Museum’s modestly-sized space with Osman Hamdi’s paintings, photographs of all three figures, photos taken at the sites of their archaeological digs, original copies of their correspondence, sample findings from the Nippur excavation (including an astounding series of miniature cuneiform tablets), and a wealth of information about the three men and their work.

As soon as you enter the first room of the exhibition, you are met with the sight of Osman Hamdi’s huge 1891 painting entitled At the Mosque Door, one of the two paintings from UPenn’s archives. The painting, discovered as recently as 2006, is ostensibly a picture of the entrance to the Muradiye Mosque in Bursa, although (as the exhibit panel explains) the low-relief kufic inscription high up on the mosque’s front wall is in fact taken from the Çoban Mustafa Paşa Camii in Gebze, where Osman Hamdi’s family lived. (The dome of that mosque can be seen in the background of the painting A View of Gebze, painted by Osman Hamdi ten years earlier and also on display in this exhibit.) The other previously unseen painting, hanging in the other room of the exhibit, is Osman Hamdi Bey’s 1903 work The Excavation at the Temple Court in Nippur. As Professors Holod and Ousterhout have explained, Osman Hamdi never actually visited Nippur, the painting being based on a photograph taken by Haynes. Hamdi Bey inserts Hilprecht – who is not in the photo – into the painting, standing out among all the native diggers and porters through his white uniform and pith helmet.

One leaves this exhibit with a sense of the great fluidity of identity that characterized these men – Hilprecht and Haynes in their seeming efforts to become “Orientals,” Osman Hamdi in his to become a Frenchman and a Westerner. A photograph of Haynes, with handlebar mustache, could be that of any 19th century American gentleman. Immediately to the right of this photo is another one in which the young American, wearing the costume of an Ottoman functionary, has become almost unrecognizable. A bronze bust of Osman Hamdi Bey – dressed only in a Western-style jacket, without his normal fez – makes him look for all the world like a chic turn-of-the-century Parisian. Hilprecht, the pith-helmet wearing symbol of German authority, also dresses like an Ottoman at times, and enjoys signing his name in cuneiform in his correspondence.

Running until the 8th of January, this exhibit is a must-see for anyone with an interest in Osman Hamdi’s art or Ottoman and Western archaeology.

Where: Pera Museum; Meşrutiyet Caddesi No. 141 Tepebaşı; P: (0212) 334 99 00
When: Until January 8
How much: 10 TL; 7 TL (groups of 10 or more); 5 TL (discount)

Read More: Osman Hamdi Bey and the Americans at the Pera Museum from The Guide Istanbul http://www.theguideistanbul.com/articles/arts-entertainment/articles/osman-hamdi-bey-and-the-americans-at-the-pera-museum-338.html#ixzz1bh5WfWmK

October 23, 2011

Nightlife and Luxury Reign at the Istanbul Edition Hotel

Reflecting the makeup of the city itself, The Istanbul Edition blends traditional elements (mosaic tiles, bronze and gold leaf accents, perforated hanging lamps) with modern components (glass-walled bathrooms, electronic blinds, a six-metre-long tropical aquarium). The tranquil confines of the domed lobby act as a kind of balm against Istanbul's notoriously chaotic traffic while the low-slung couches and leather ottomans of the Gold Bar encourage further relaxation.

20th Century Artist Aksel Under Spotlight at Taksim Gallery Show

A collection of works by 20th century Turkish artist Malik Aksel is on view at İstanbul’s Taksim Art Gallery, shedding some light on this little-known master of watercolor.

Titled “Ressam-Yazar-Koleksiyoncu” (Painter-Author-Collector), the exhibition is curated by Mehmet Lütfi Şen with author Beşir Ayvazoğlu as advisor. Running through Nov. 2, the exhibition presents around 100 watercolors and oils on canvas by Aksel, who passed away in 1987.

Yet the collection on view is not enough to fully discover Aksel’s entire artistic career.

Ayvazoğlu and Şen hope for a retrospective that will also include his masterpieces. The current exhibition, in a way, lays the foundation for such a retrospective.

The current display brings together around 100 watercolors and oils on canvas from the private collection of Aksel’s son, Murat Aksel, and an 81-piece collection of public lithographs, on loan from the Bursa Municipal Museum.

WTA Istanbul Gets New Sponsors, Draw Held in Istanbul

The draw for the TEB-BNP Paribas Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Championships, one of the most prestigious tennis championships in the world, was made on Sunday at the Sheraton Istanbul Ataköy Hotel.

The championships will be held in Turkey for three years with the sponsorship of BNP Paribas, a European leader in global banking and financial services, and its Turkish partner Türk Ekonomi Bankası (TEB).

The WTA is the global leader in women’s professional sports with more than 2,400 players representing 99 nations competing for more than $87 million in prize money at the association’s 53 events and four Grand Slams in 33 countries. More than 5 million people attended women’s tennis events in 2010, with tens of millions more watching on television and digital channels around the world. The WTA competitive season concludes with the WTA Championships in Istanbul on Oct. 25-30.

October 16, 2011

Thousands to Run in Intercontinental Eurasia Marathon

An estimated 100,000 sports enthusiasts are expected to participate on Oct. 16 in the 33rd Nike Eurasia Marathon, the world’s only intercontinental race.

The marathon starts on the city’s Asian shore and finishes in Europe and presents the chance of racing over the Bosphorus to the athletes and running enthusiasts. Apart from the regular marathon, sports enthusiasts are welcome to enter the fun-run, an eight-kilometer competition.

About 80,000 will participate in the fun run, and 20,000 will compete in the 15-kilometer event and the marathon.

However, head of the sports branch of the Istanbul Municipality said the marathon should not be restricted to the Bosphorus.

“It is wrong to identify the Eurasia Marathon only with the Bosphorus,” Alpaslan Baki Ertekin, head of the Spor AŞ said. “It is covering the entire historic peninsula.” The marathon route passes through Eyüp and Balat and travels along the coastal road, next to the historic walls of the city and finishes at the Hippodrome in Sultanahmet near Hagia Sophia.

“So if you make a list of Istanbul’s sights, they will all be seen on the route of the Eurasia Marathon,” Ertekin said.

The fun run starts at 9:30 a.m. at Altunizade in Üsküdar and the marathon starts 300 meters before the Bosphorus Bridge at 9 a.m.

The race routes will be closed to traffic between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Sunday. The Metrobus will not be working during those times, either.

Read more on Zaman: All Roads Lead to Istanbul As It Hosts Eurasia Marathon

Hearing The Call To Prayer In Istanbul

A favorite thing for me anywhere in the Islamic world is to hear the chaotic chorus of cheaply amplified voices erupting into song as they sing the call to prayer from mosque minarets all over town at the same time. Here, just outside Istanbul's fabled Grand Bazaar, it's that time. People seem to ignore it, but I can't. It's part of the audio track of any visit to this corner of our world. Mix the sounds with the people and you get Istanbul stew.

The warbling call to prayer used to unnerve me, and now I find it actually beautiful...even comforting. What happens to you when you hear this Muslim call to worship? When it wakes me early in the morning, I remember that that prayer has an extra line in it. It roughly translates, "It's better to pray than to sleep."

Read more on The Huffington Post: Hearing The Call To Prayer In Istanbul

Old City Lends New Meaning to 'Supermarket Wine'

Some cities are wrapped in fog or smog; Istanbul is swaddled with antiquity and exoticism. No doubt when the emperor Constantine established this city as a purpose-built Imperial capital in the fourth century of the common era he did so with the idea that it would remain eternally youthful and relevant - such is the classical dream. From that time until the present, through good times and bad, the city has been the very model of a worldly, cosmopolitan, if not always modern, metropolis, as fortuitously situated as a city could well be to both administer a far-flung empire and control lucrative trade routes.

A city built for the ages that believes no new age has anything to teach it will shortly be a hive of anachronism and incongruity - aspects we encounter everywhere here, though nowhere more poignantly than on the rooftop of our hotel where we retire at the end of the day to sip Cappadocian chardonnay. Before us, tanker and cargo ships queue up in the Sea of Marmara in preparation for their passage through the narrow, snaky Bosphorus to the open waters of the Black Sea; behind, flocks of birds whirl around the domes of Ayasofiya and the Blue Mosque. In the deepening dusk calls to prayer issue from their minarets. The singing has a surprising, lusty virtuosity. It's not at all like the calls to prayer we heard in Marrakesh, which seem amateurish in comparison. Perhaps an outpost like Morocco just doesn't attract the vocal talent of an Istanbul.

Maria Sharapova Arrives in Istanbul

The World No. 2 ranked Maria Sharapova of Russia has arrived in Istanbul to take part in the WTA Championships, which is scheduled to kick off on 25th to 30th October, 2011.

The three-time major title winner Sharapova hopes to win the third WTA crown at Istanbul, where Caroline Wozniacki, Petra Kvitova, Victoria Azarenka, Li Na, Vera Zvonareva and Samantha Stosur have qualified for the WTA Championship. The tough battle between Agnieszka Radwanska and Andrea Petkovic will be the eighth player to qualify for the tournament, after Austrian Open this week.

Read more on Live Tennis Guide: Maria Sharapova Arrives in Istanbul

Contemporary Istanbul to Kick off in November

The 6th edition of the international contemporary art fair “Contemporary Istanbul” is set to kick off on Nov. 24 at Istanbul’s sparkling Lütfi Kırdar International Convention and Exhibition Center in what promises to be one of the highlights of the winter cultural agenda in İstanbul.

A four day extravaganza of international contemporary art, established with the aim of raising Turkey’s status on the international art scene, CI’11, an event sponsored by Akbank and the Zorlu Center, will showcase a total of 3,000 works from 550 international artists at the 12,500 square meter venue, the Anatolia news agency reported this week.

October 15, 2011

Istanbul Theater Stages Armenian Writer’s Work

The Istanbul Municipal Theater will stage Hagop Baronyan’s “Eastern Dentist” (Adamnapuyjn Arevelyan) as a musical in the new season, marking the first time an Armenian play will be staged at a state theater in Turkey.

“Armenians are the foundation of Turkish theater. Artists bred in this area are the DNA of this land. We need to claim our past if we want to modernize. Unfortunately, we are a society without a memory,” said Ayşenil Şamlıoğlu, Istanbul Municipal Theater’s general art director.

The theater would be greatly pleased to bring the play to Armenia with its huge cast as well, Şamlıoğlu added.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Istanbul Theater Stages Armenian Writer’s Work

Bring A Top Istanbul Restaurant Chef Into Your Own Kitchen

One of the joys in living in Turkey is the wonderful food available. I often try to decide what it is that makes Turkish cuisine so special.

Is it the amount of love poured into their dishes by Turkish mothers? Is it the way the ingredients are mixed and dishes are cooked? Or is it the fact that there is an amazing natural abundance of varied and fresh ingredients here.

Turkey is certainly blessed with agricultural resources. Just a short stroll through your local market is enough to demonstrate that. Whatever the season, there is a wealth of fruit and vegetables that are affordable, colorful and, what is most important, have a rich taste that comes from their having been picked within the last 24 hours.

We are spoilt for choice when it comes to grains, too. Wheat, barley and rice are plentiful, meaning that bread, pasta, bulgur or rice accompanies every meal. The art of Turkish patisserie also developed with baklava and all related forms of sweet pastry and cake, since honey and nuts are in abundance here.

Surrounded by three seas, Turkey has many different fish to choose from as an alternative to meat and game.

I have yet to host a visitor to Turkey who didn’t rave about the wonderful food: the freshness of the salads, the wide variety of meze, the richness of the spices used in the kebabs and the gooey delight of the desserts. Even vegetarians, who are often nervous about what options they will have abroad, have been pleasantly surprised to discover that the range and quality of dishes far exceeds their normal choice. Chickpeas and lentils can be found everywhere, and it seems the Turks can make a delicious dish out of almost any vegetable and olive oil.

Eating out has always been part of the Turkish tradition. Meals prepared in the home for guests are very important, but Turks also like to sit in restaurants with family and friends and enjoy the ambience when eating. Traditionally, many of these restaurants have just one or two dishes. The mantı evi will serve small Turkish ravioli in a delicious yogurt sauce. The sulu yemekçi will offer you a range of casseroled meat with vegetables, the balık evi is a fish restaurant and the kuru fasulyeci will serve meat and beans and rice. A köfteci is a meatball specialist, and usually they specialize in one type of meatball from a particular region in Turkey.

October 12, 2011

Iran Films on Screen in Istanbul

Iran Film Week kicked off in Istanbul this week with the aim of strengthening ties between Iran and Turkey.

“Iran and Turkey will strengthen the ties with the latest cultural events that are taking place in both countries,” said Mahmoud Haydari, Iran’s council general.

Organized by the International Culture and Arts Association (UKSD) and the Iranian General Consulate, the event will take place Tarık Zafer Tunata Culture Center.

Speaking during the opening, Haydari said Iran and Turkey were bound together by cultural ties.

Both countries have the same cultural heritage, he said. “The common heritage and values bind two counties together.”

Noting that trade volume between the two countries had increased more than $15 billion compared to last year’s $11 billion, Haydari said the volume was also supported by cultural activities.

The film week will continue until Oct. 15, and movies by Iranian directors such as Ferajullah Silahshori, Mani Hakiki, Behruz Efhami, Rezzak Kerimiwill be shown.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Iran Films on Screen in Istanbul

World Cartoonists to Gather in Istanbul Contest

The 31st International Nasreddin Hodja Cartoon Competition will bring together the world’s best-known cartoonists and Turkish art lovers in Istanbul starting today.

The event is being organized with the support of the Prime Ministry’s Promotional Fund and the Culture and Tourism Ministry under the main sponsorship by Koç Holding, according to a written statement made by the Cartoonists Association.

Organized since 1974, the International Nasreddin Hodja Cartoon Competition is one of the leading events of its kind in the world. Guest cartoonists come together with Turkish cartoonists, who are members of the Cartoonists Association, as well as Marmara and Mimar Sinan University Fine Arts students.

The event will continue until Oct. 20.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: World Cartoonists to Gather in Istanbul Contest

October 11, 2011

Istanbul to Host Some of Davos Meetings

Some of meetings of the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) gathering, which is usually be held in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, will be held in Istanbul from this year onwards, a WEF member and a former aide to the Turkish prime minister has said.

Cuneyd Zapsu said during a television program on Monday that first WEF meeting in Istanbul will be held from June 19-22. “This will not be a one-time thing,” Zapsu said, underscoring that the some of the annual meetings that are related to the region will be held in Istanbul in the following years as well.

First Students of German University in Istanbul to Start Classes Next Year

The new Turkish-German university (TAU) in Istanbul will accept its first students in autumn 2012, Ziya Şanal, university rector, said on Monday evening.

The lectures will take place in provisional buildings, since the university’s premises will not be completed by that time. The foundation of the university, which as many as 5000 students will attend, was laid in Beykoz, a suburb on the Asian side of İstanbul, in October 2010.

The buildings might not be ready to host the students yet, but the institution already has an emblem. The organizers presented it in Istanbul on Monday evening. The logo was created at the end of a contest among mixed teams of design students at Anadolu University in Eskişehir and RheinMain University in Wiesbaden, Germany. The winning logo features the three initial letters of the university’s name, TAU, in the shape of flower petals. According to its designers, the logo symbolizes the connection between technology and nature at TAU. The institution – the biggest German university abroad -- will focus on engineering, but at the same time will be committed to having a green campus.

The agreement to establish TAU was signed two-and-a-half years ago between the two countries. At that occasion, the German minister of education and research, Annette Schavan, said that the project could start in autumn 2009. Although this estimate has proven to be overly optimistic, there was a reason for the delay, namely disputes over the prospective curriculum.

Rita Süssmuth, president of the consortium representing the German universities involved in the bilateral project, said, “But now it looks realistic that we can start next autumn.” Rector Şanal added that the biggest challenges now are finishing the construction work on campus and acquiring “very good” faculty members.

Read more on Zaman: First Students of German University in Istanbul to Start Classes Next Year

October 10, 2011

The Perfect Trip: Turkey

Istanbul displays all the signs of bullish development you’d expect in one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, with shiny skyscrapers growing ever upward, shops as far as the eye can see and tankers queueing in the Bosphorus river. And yet, among the organised chaos of this great modern city, ancient mosques and palaces rise sphinx-like from the jumble of roofs.

For nearly 500 years, Istanbul – or Constantinople, as it was previously known – was the capital of the Ottoman Empire, a powerful regime that, at its height, stretched from Hungary to Iraq. In the city’s imperial days, traders sold spices from distant dominions in the bazaars, dignitaries hunted in parks lining the Bosphorus, and buildings rose to immortalise the sultans. People came here from across the empire. ‘It was global before there was “global”,’ says Ottoman historian Caroline Finkel, who has lived in the city for 25 years.

Standing proud near the city’s spice bazaar is Rüstem Pa¸sa Mosque. Built during the Ottoman Empire, it showcases the best Ottoman architecture and exquisite Iznik tiles, which cover the walls, columns and the façade of its porch. Rüstem Paşa has a stillness, beauty and calm that offers respite from the clamour of the markets outside its walls.

On a much grander scale is the famous Blue Mosque, also decorated with Iznik tiles and stained-glass windows. It lies in the Sultanahmet area, the old town centre that was once the heart of Ottoman life.

This remarkable mosque was built after the Ottomans took the city from the Christian Byzantine Empire, to compete with the Aya Sofya cathedral, which was a conspicuous reminder of the old regime. Now a museum, Aya Sofya was made into a mosque under the Ottomans. ‘It was about imperial rivalry,’ says Caroline, ‘making your own what was there before. Demolishing it by giving new meaning.’

The 1,500-year-old building of Aya Sofya still has a sacred atmosphere. Turkish families crowd the entrance, craning their necks to view the soaring ceiling. They wander through the hushed space and queue up at the weeping column, said to cure ailments with its tears. Ottoman features such as medallions with gilt Arabic calligraphy draw the eye, but the shadowy corners are rich with original Christian fragments from the Byzantine era – enduring signs of Istanbul’s rich past.

Read more on BBC Travel: The Perfect Trip: Turkey

October 08, 2011

Turkey, US to Turn Istanbul to Finance Hub

Turkey and the United States have agreed to turn Istanbul into a global finance hub with the latter providing technical infrastructure, a Turkish official said Monday.

“Istanbul is already a regional financial center. Our aim is to make it a genuine global financial hub,” deputy undersecretary of the Foreign Ministry Selim Yenel told reporters at a joint press conference with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Economic, Energy and Business Affairs Jose Fernandez. The press conference came following a Turkey-U.S. Economic Partnership Commission meeting.

The Turkish government has been working to make Istanbul a financial hub for a long time by transferring key national economic institutions, such as the Central Bank, from Ankara to Istanbul, Yenel said, adding that the next move is making Istanbul a globally recognized finance hub.

“We have asked the U.S. to provide some infrastructure services and agreed on this,” Yenel said. Energy efficiency, cooperation in third countries and nuclear energy were other issues discussed.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Turkey, US to Turn Istanbul to Finance Hub

48 Hours: Istanbul

Why go now?

Seven hills, four bodies of water and two continents meet in this sprawling maritime city, which mixes historic mosques and markets with rooftop bars for a city break with depth and dimension. As autumn falls, Turkey's premier metropolis shakes off the heat of high summer with a season of festivals: starting with film (Filmekimi; 8-15 October; filmekimi.iksv.org), moving on to music (Akbank Jazz; 13-23 October; akbanksanat.com), and culminating in the celebration of Republic Day on 29 October, when a light display and fireworks will illuminate the Bosphorus Bridge (1).

Read more on The Independent: 48 Hours: Istanbul

October 07, 2011

Underwater Photos on View in Istanbul

An underwater photography exhibit opened for the 11th International Underwater Screening Festival organized by the Turkish Diver Club. The exhibit will remain open until Oct. 9.

The festival’s aim was to draw attention to threats that face sea creatures, Festival Manager Bengiz Özdereli said during a press conference at the Diver Club in the Caddebostan district.

The exhibit showcased a total of 30 underwater pictures displayed on the floor of the pool. Özdereli said they brought six children from Bingöl who had never seen the sea to the exhibit. The team taught the children about photography, diving and protecting the seas.

The festival committee organized a competition called “The Life of Marmara.”

Contestants will take photos and videos during diving activities taking place off the Princes’ Islands on Oct. 8. The festival will also organize an international photography and video competition, which will be open to photographers in all countries.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Underwater Photos on View in Istanbul

Discovering Istanbul’s Hidden Treasures

Much of any airplane trip is spent killing time in eager anticipation of arriving at your desired destination, sometimes by watching a movie, sometimes by simply flipping through an in-flight magazine.

These magazines usually feature articles on the airline's various destinations, accompanied by beautiful photography and lavish page design, making for a thoroughly enjoyable read. And every so often you gain new insights about a certain location, be it a city or an entire country, as the magazine takes you on a journey to discover the hidden treasures a travel reporter has uncovered for you to find once you touch down. Today's Zaman sat down with one such reporter, Dutch journalist Mike Raanhuis, who concluded such a treasure hunt in İstanbul on Thursday for Royal Dutch Airlines' (KLM) iFly Magazine.

Who chooses the destinations Raanhuis will write about? Does he get to decide himself? “Not really,” he was quick to answer, “Although I did hand in a list at the beginning of this year.” “This time around, the decision to do a story on İstanbul was made by the editorial staff of iFly Magazine,” he said.

When Raanhuis came to İstanbul once before, he did not have the opportunity to get a thorough idea of the city. “I was here for just 24 hours earlier this year, so I didn't get much of a chance to see the city. I did do a Bosporus tour, which was very impressive,” Raanhuis recalled.

The prospect of returning to İstanbul was thus very exciting for the Dutch journalist, as his previous visit left him curious. “In my opinion İstanbul is not a very common destination yet, which means there is still a lot for people to discover here. More so than, say, in Paris, where it is very hard to find those hidden treasures that you look for when you do an article about a city,” he explained. So what makes an article? What is Raanhuis' mission when he sets out on behalf of iFly Magazine? According to Raanhuis, that mission is twofold, as he has to balance the requirements of iFly Magazine's format, which means the article should feature some of a city's cultural aspects as well as featuring a culinary component, while showcasing the modern face of the city, with trying to give readers his personal take. “I want to inspire the readers,” he explains, adding: “I want to be able to show readers something they haven't seen before, or a part of the city they would not have considered going to, had it not been for my article.”

What then is his secret for inspiring his readers? In order to inspire, Raanhuis needs to be inspired himself. “That's why I try and talk to locals,” he tells us. “To get their advice on where to go, to have them guide me through their city. It has taken me to places where not many tourists have gone before, which ties in with one of the things iFly Magazine sets out to achieve, which is to surprise even the more seasoned travelers and visitors of a given city, in this case İstanbul.”

What has Raanhuis been told to go and see by the İstanbul locals? A whole variety of things, as it turns out. It depended, however, on who he talked to. “The manager of my hotel recommended I go to Bebek and have breakfast there, after which I should just stroll along the shores of the Bosporus. Or to roam the streets of Galata, where, apparently, the best hamburgers in the city are served. Another person suggested I visit Moda and check out Bağdat Caddesi in Kadıköy,” he elaborated.

But does Raanhuis solely take the advice of locals? “No, I also do research at home before leaving. You have to, of course, as it helps a lot to get a better understanding of where I will be going. Last night, for instance, I had dinner at a fabulous restaurant [Sunset Grill & Bar] that I had picked myself because of its view and the very good reviews of its dishes.”

In trying to put together his schedule for İstanbul, Raanhuis encountered efficiency's greatest foe in İstanbul: traffic. “I did not expect İstanbul to be so big or the traffic so heavy,” he says, laughing. “But seriously, I did a lot of great things. I visited Moda, where I took some really nice photographs. Dinner was also amazing, as I said. I strolled through Cihangir, had tea there and walked over to Tünel, exploring all those little streets that snake through the neighborhood. I ended up on some roof terrace [Balkon İstanbul], which was recommended to me when I talked to some locals at a bar. Those are the things I look for, suggestions like that. The next morning I went to Sultanahmet to take some pictures at a hamam, which is very unusual and I was lucky to have been given permission to do so. It did mean, however, that I had to be there at six in the morning [sighs]. On the other hand, that meant I had time to visit the fish market in Kadıköy. The afternoon I spent at both the Spice Bazaar and the Grand Bazaar.”

We told Raanhuis that the Spice Bazaar and the Grand Bazaar aren't really what one would call hidden treasures. Doesn't that conflict with his earlier statements? “I have to balance the known and the unknown,” he explains. “That is why, for instance, I chose not to go to the Galata Tower or do another Bosporus tour. And whatever your opinion on Sultanahmet, tourists are bound to end up there anyway so I might as well try and find some of the lesser known sites there, too, or highlight elements of familiar sights such as the Grand Bazaar, and put them in a new perspective,” the journalist said.

As Raanhuis made for his plane we asked him what, in his opinion, makes a city trip a successful one. “For me personally it would be when a city captures my imagination, when it gets under my skin. On a professional level I would say that my trip is a success if the article manages to surprise even our more seasoned travelers.”

October 06, 2011

Istanbulites Are Gonna LOVE This Show!

Living in Istanbul it is hard not to see at least 100 cats a day on the streets. These fluffy street ornaments now have their own show on Animal Planet!

The show is based on songwriting and cat-loving host John Fulton's  road trip across America to spend time with, and write songs about, the States' most talented tabbies, quirkiest kittens, enthusiastic cat owners and experts. The six episode cat quest begins TODAY on ANIMAL PLANET! Let's hope John Fulton pays a visit to Istanbul and shoots an episode in this ancient city where kittens are the real owners of the streets!

Each episode of MUST LOVE CATS focuses on a specific region of the country featuring visits to several states, where musical host Fulton explores the greatest cat tales in the U.S. Highlights of the trip include:

• A visit to Caboodle Ranch in Florida, which is home to more than 500 cats and a resident cat wrangler.
• A town in Texas famous for its population of fat cats and the residents who adore them.
• A trek to the catnip fields of Washington to learn all about the mystery herb that drives cats crazy.
• A stake-out of a “klepto kitty” in California that has stolen hundreds of its neighbors’ belongings, followed by a visit to a local coffee house where John samples the rare delicacy, coffee made from beans scooped out of cat poop!
• A stop in Washington D.C., to witness the emotional bonds between cats and our nation’s veterans.
• A trip to the Big Apple, New York City, to meet a group of working felines that keep the city that never sleeps operational, and to catch a cat fashion show. 
• And, a journey to the Midwest that sends John to a lab in Minnesota to identify the best kitty litter, and lands him face to whisker in Indiana with the world’s most famous lasagna loving cat, Garfield.

October 05, 2011

Istanbul to Welcome Street Artists

Street artists from around the world will paint the longest graffiti wall in Turkey between Saturday and Monday during the Re-Bomonti Street Art Exhibition and Performance at the Tekfen Bomonti Apartments in Istanbul’s Şişli district.

Chu from Argentina, Rusl Loveletters from Germany as well as Cins, Wide and Canavar will all create art on the side of the ongoing building project in the district’s Bomonti neighborhood.

Street musicians, including swing masters Billie not on Holiday, will also perform during the event, which will further include graffiti artists. Şişli Mayor Mustafa Sarıgül is expected to attend the event on Monday.

The art will remain on the 116-meter wall for the next month.

Address: Merkez Mahallesi, Kazım Orbay Caddesi, Bomonti, Şişli, 34381 Istanbul, Turkey

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Istanbul to Welcome Street Artists

Artist Defines Cross-cultural Approaches

Susan Hefuna is an international artist with an Egyptian and German heritage. Hefuna has exhibited her work, which consists of drawings, videos, photographs, installations and sculptures reflecting intercultural transformation, in London, New York, Venice and Paris.

Hefuna said she liked to work with layered pages in her drawings. She also likes to play with the meanings of words and while doing this reflects the cross-cultural aspects in her art.

Her current show at Pi Artworks in Istanbul, which runs until the end of December, exemplifies how she deals with cross-cultural codes. Her use of mashrabiyas – small wooden pieces gathered together without glue – shows how Hefuna plays with images and meanings of words.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Artist Defines Cross-cultural Approaches

Hollywood Production Sets in Istanbul's Historic Venues

Click on the picture below to enlarge and read the clipping from today's Hurriyet Daily News

Read the coverage online on Hurriyet Daily News: Hollywood Production Sets in Istanbul's Historic Venues

October 04, 2011

Warming up to Shakespeare’s Richard III

Tickets for the Istanbul dates of Sam Mendes’ production of the classic Shakespeare work “Richard III” were sold out almost instantly, thanks in part to the star attraction of main man Kevin Spacey. In the rush to see the play, however, many viewers are likely to be relatively unacquainted with the play’s historical context; a lack of knowledge about the play’s historical background will not necessarily affect the viewing pleasure, but acquiring a better grasp of the text’s plot, which is to be staged in full, as well as a familiarity with the period’s historical chaos, would benefit many an audience member.

For an Elizabethan audience, William Shakespeare’s ‘Richard III’ displayed an ultimate evil incarnate whose final fall suggested an act of divine justice. For the modern audience, however, the character’s range from a “false passionate brother,” to “a false amorous lover,” to a “false pious man” and a “false reluctant heir to the throne,” is the source of an admiration that is mostly attributed to the talent and success of the actor rather than the character’s creator.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Warming up to Shakespeare’s Richard III

October 03, 2011

The City: Istanbul

At the confluence of three strategic waters—the Bosporus, the Marmara, and the Golden Horn—the center of Istanbul occupies the skyline like an oriental Manhattan. Its gray-blue stone touches it with a steely glamour. The old palace of the sultans crouches on its promontory’s edge; nearby rises the cupola of Hagia Sophia, the greatest church of Orthodox Christendom; and over all ascend the pencil minarets of the city’s first mosques.

Wander these streets beyond the usual tourist trail and you are often in the labyrinth of a gently deteriorating past. Window grilles look onto imperial cemeteries; wooden mansions survive among the concrete; Byzantine walls crumble on the periphery. This, perhaps—the survival into modernity of a decaying splendor—is what imbues Istanbul with its pervasive melancholy. As Constantinople it presided over two of the longest-lasting empires in history: the Byzantine and the Ottoman. Both, in their prolonged old age, became bywords for decadence; and the feel of a long, heartsick twilight is never far away. This is the mournful hüzün of Orhan Pamuk, the country’s foremost writer: almost a quality in the air. The weather, indeed, may have something to do with it: in summer a drowsy and debilitating humidity sets in.

Read more on The Daily Beast: The City: Istanbul

October 02, 2011

Istanbul's New Museum: Borusan Contemporary

Istanbul has a vibrant modern art scene that includes trendy new galleries, the Contemporary Istanbul art fair, several cutting-edge art book publishers, a modern art museum and its own biennial, which opened Sept. 16 and is as ambitious as it gets, especially in a country that many deem nationalistic in its modern art preferences. Using Cuban artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres's life and work as a starting point, and calling itself "Untitled," after the way G-T named his pieces, the biennial presents an international perspective on the questions contemporary Turkish artists seem to be asking themselves about identity, violence, media and war.

The latest feather in the city's contemporary art cap is a new museum, The Borusan Contemporary, which opened the same day as the biennial. Located in a 100-year-old mansion on the Bosporus in the shadow of a dramatically lit suspension bridge linking Europe and Asia, the Borusan also places Turkish art in an international context, looking beyond Turkey for inspiration.

Read more on Huffington Post: Istanbul's New Museum: Borusan Contemporary

Istanbul to Host Secret Agent 007 on 50th Anniversary

As the clock ticks down to the 50th anniversary of 1962’s “Dr. No” -- the first James Bond film -- secret agent 007 is set to touch down in İstanbul for the filming of the latest Bond blockbuster.

Scheduled for a November 2012 release, the film’s producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson visited Turkey this week for discussions with Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay, the Anatolia news agency reported.

Günay revealed that one of the locations in which filming is to take place is the historical Sultanahmet neighborhood. “There are, however, a number of locations, including the waterside and shores of the Bosporus, in consideration for the 10-15 minutes of the movie that is to be filmed in Turkey,” he said.

Read more on Zaman: Istanbul to Host Secret Agent 007 on 50th Anniversary

Istanbul Biennial: Art at the Crossroads of the World

There is no recession in Byzantium. To buy his £70 worth of magazines, the man ahead of me in the Istanbul newsagent touch-types his pin number while looking at a twinkling display of watches. He barely registers the cost of the glossy stack: Yacht Park & Lifestyle, Motorboat Month. Last year European City of Culture, this year European Capital of Sport and boasting an outstanding art biennial, the city that straddles Europe and Asia is resurgent. Aside from cars and cats – there are millions of both, all equally ungovernable – what strikes you most are the cashpoints. I have never seen a city with so many, nor one that boasted bigger national flags – immense red rectangles the size of basketball courts, billowing in the breeze that whips up off the Bosphorus.

And it’s a few feet from that timeless and seductive stretch of water that the 12th Istanbul Biennial has just opened its doors. In a pair of converted warehouses containing white galleries laid out in a pattern that mirrors the structure of the city itself, curators Jens Hoffmann and Adriano Pedrosa have assembled the work of 135 artists from around the world. Pedrosa, a Brazilian, and Hoffmann, a Costa Rican, have divided their chosen works into five group shows and 50 solo, all under the initially somewhat unpromising title of Untitled.

Dating from 1987, Istanbul is, along with Venice and São Paulo, one of the three most esteemed art biennials in the world. In past years, work has been displayed at multiple venues around the city, but the decision this year to house all the art in a single, centralised location proves an inspired one. Venice can feel incoherent and disjointed, and is often dominated by the sheer logistics of getting to the right place to actually stand in front of stuff. The two buildings that are home to the biennial this year, Antrepo 3 and 5, are large enough to house a truly mind-stretching number of images and ideas, but temperate and compact enough to make the experience a pleasurable one.

Istanbul International Film Festival Kicks Off

This week the city of Istanbul is hosting a ground-breaking international film festival. Called "Crime and Punishment," it is focusing on military coups. Turkey is no stranger to coups with its military seizing power three times since 1960. Even though the army last took power in 1980, coups have remained a taboo subject.

Read more on Voa News: Istanbul International Film Festival Kicks Off

Tasting Istanbul, From Humble to High Cuisine

SOMETIMES I think it’s no accident that Istanbul’s telephone area code is 212. Despite its minarets and its hilly cobblestone streets, its Grand Bazaar and the sapphire waters of the Bosporus that glide through the city like a liquid sash, this eastern metropolis has a New York state of mind.

You feel purposeful energy humming in the air as you watch the inhabitants stroll through the maze of streets and lanes, arm in arm. You sense their conviction that the city has been designed for their pleasure; that if they can make it here, they’ll make it anywhere. Sometimes they’re headed to experimental music concerts, gallery openings or simply the office. But very often, they’re bound for cafes, meyhanes (think of them as Turkish tapas bars, serving small plates, wine, beer and raki) or any of the countless restaurants that edge the waterfront and sidewalks.

Visitors to Istanbul can find it bewildering to decide where to eat. On my first trip there, in 2004, I was squired around town by a friend and his Turkish wife on a culinary Magical Mystery Tour that unspooled like a delicious dream. But on this visit (my fourth), I wandered with the intention of passing along the names of five spots sure to please epicurean newcomers — bearing in mind that couples, thrill seekers and purists have different gustatory goals. But everyone will want a tip for the best meyhane, so that’s where I began.

Read more on The New York Times: Tasting Istanbul, From Humble to High Cuisine