January 30, 2014

Four Juniors Change Istanbul into a City Full of Entertainment

Team Keşif — the Turkish word meaning “discovery” — is one of six finalists for Walt Disney Imagineering’s Imaginations competition. Disney Imagineering — the design and development arm of the Walt Disney Company responsible for constructing Disney parks and resorts — will announce the winner on Jan. 31.

Engineering juniors John Nappo, Folasade Oba and Emre Tanirgan and College junior Gabrielle Patterson are currently in Glendale, California for the final round of the competition, which ends on Friday. They will have 15 minutes to present their idea along with visual aids, like a 3-D model, video clips and animations.

Team Keşif is transfiguring Istanbul, Turkey, focusing on adding to pre-existing unique aspects of the city such as Bosphorus Strait – a strait that forms the boundary between Europe and Asia – and the Bosphorus Bridge, one of the bridges connecting the two continents.

After considering several options, the team decided to use Istanbul because Tanirgan, who is from Turkey, is very familiar with the city’s layout and major landmarks.

Philomena to Open Istanbul 2014

Stephen Frears’ Oscar-nominated feature to open this year’s Istanbul Film Festival.

Philomena, starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan, is to open the 33rd Istanbul Film Festival (April 5-20).

Directed by Stephen Frears and based on a true story the film centres on an elderly woman’s search for her son, with the help of a journalist, who was taken away from her decades ago after she became pregnant and was forced to live in a convent.

The Turkish festival will feature more than 200 titles and three competitions in its programme. The full line-up will be announced in the first week of March. The festival also features industry section Meetings on the Bridge. 

Read more on Screen Daily: Philomena to Open Istanbul 2014

Taming the Darkness in Istanbul's Tophane-i Amire

This month, the Tophane-i Amire Culture and Arts Center in Istanbul hosts a very special exhibition by Yaşam Şaşmazer called Metanoia, a psychological term that refers to the process of reforming the psyche for self-healing during psychological breakdowns or an existential crisis. In her current series, Şaşmazer manages to merge her artistic talent and aesthetic perception with a challenging theory and meaningful concepts. Staying true to the original theme, the artist simplifies the “metanoia” term to describe a “productive act” in which there is transformation and change. 

The Song of Nature Theme of 42nd Istanbul Music Festival

The 42nd Istanbul Music Festival, organized by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) under the sponsorship of Borusan Holding, will welcome music lovers with an impressive program this year. This year’s festival will be held between May 31 and June 27 with the theme of “The Song of Nature.”

The 42nd Istanbul Music Festival will host approximately 800 local and foreign artists including Steven Isserlis, Isabelle van Keulen, Alexander Raskatov, Nelson Freire, Pepe Remero, Krzysztof Penderecki, Xavier de Maistre, and Yuja Wang as well as examples of world’s leading orchestras Sinfonia Varsovia and Teresa Carreño Youth Orchestra of Venezuela in Istanbul. 

January 28, 2014

Sultanahmet: The Heart of Historic Istanbul

Regularly crammed with tourists from around the world, Sultanahmet is the heart of Istanbul's historic old town.

Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985, Sultanahmet is up one of Istanbul's oldest settlements. The district's main streets start at the Hippodrome - today named Sultanahmet Square - and follow the slopes of the hills.

Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque are the district's landmarks and are surrounded by others, like Binbirdirek Cistern, Istanbul Archeological Museums, the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art, Great Palace Mosaic Museum, Gulhane Park, Arasta Bazaar and the German fountain.

The Hippodrome of Constantinople - also called Horse Square - was a circus that was the sporting and social centre of Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire. In the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine eras, horse racing and chariot racing were very popular. 

Read more on World Bulletin: Sultanahmet: The Heart of Historic Istanbul

How Istanbul Will Define This Decade

Istanbul may already be big, but soon it's going to be huge. According to predictions aired by Euromonitor this month, Turkey's largest city will become Europe's most populous sometime between 2017 and 2018, overtaking both the London region and Moscow, not to mention leaving Paris far behind. By 2020, the city is expected to have over 16 million inhabitants, compared to 13.8 million in 2012.

Istanbul isn't the only metropolis swelling – Euromonitor lists five Turkish cities among to the top ten fastest growing in Western Europe. Istanbul still remains a leviathan like no other, its ravening appetite for fresh land and migrants seemingly endless.

Read more on The Atlantic Cities: How Istanbul Will Define This Decade

Orient Express Train from Paris to Istanbul to be Relaunched

It is a name that has been associated with both stylish adventures and the golden age of travel for almost a century and a half. And, as of April, the Orient Express will be rebooted for the 21st century, when French rail operator SNCF restores it to the timetable.

These two fabled words are most commonly associated with the train that ran from Paris to Istanbul between 1883 and 1977. It was launched by the hotel group Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits, and, at its height, offered travellers the chance to journey across Europe and into Turkey’s most famous city in a rolling realm of style and comfort.

However, with the growth of the European road network and the introduction of other fast passenger trains, the service gradually became a thing of the past.

The main route from the French capital to Istanbul was curtailed in 1977, and a shorter trip – from Paris to Vienna – was introduced. This ran until 2007, when the service was cut again, now starting out for Vienna from the north-easterly French city of Strasbourg.

January 26, 2014

Submerse Yourself in History with Every Turn in Istanbul

Just as the city belongs equally to the West and to the East, to Islam and to Christianity, the great mosques that loom up before you embody its duality: Hagia Sophia once a great Christian Church, built by the Byzantine emperor Justinian; the Blue Mosque, the very quintessence of Islamic architecture, directly inspired by Hagia Sophia.

Istanbul never forgets that it was once Constantinople.

I have come to this extraordinary city to stay at the Çiragan Palace Hotel, which looks out over all of this with panoramic breadth. 

In His 82nd Birth Year Zeki Müren Was Commemorated With a Glittering Fashion Show in Istanbul

In the fond memory of the sun of Turkish classical music Zeki Müren, last month Istanbul’s famous historical landmark - El Hamra theatre - hosted “Through the Time-Tunnel with Style Icon Zeki Müren” fashion show by Ümit Temurçin.

Ümit Temurçin who is more and more highlighted in the media by his personal styling shows pleasantly surprised his followers with his commemorative Zeki Müren designs in his 3rd fashion event following his enchanting and provocative “Pera’s Lost Women” and "Back to the Nature" styling projects.

Temurçin’s Zeki Müren collection was inspired by the musician’s extravagant stage outfits as well as his two main life events – Zeki Müren’s birth on the stage as the sun of Turkish classical music and the dark day on which he died on stage- like a star should.

The night started out with Temurçin’s audio-visual portfolio presentations followed by a short documentary prepared by Temurçin’s team in memory of Zeki Müren. At the end of the documentary the two-part Zeki Müren designs rocked the stage. The night was applauded by the guests and critiques alike.

Temurçin’s design aimed to bring out Zeki Müren’s over-shadowed talent “pattern design”. The sun of Turkish classical music had more to offer to his international audience beyond his unmatched voice and poetry. Evening’s guests had the chance to enjoy Zeki Müren’s colorful character re-imaged on stage.

The show was attended by many Turkish and International celebrities alike in addition to some very highly respected press members. Ümit Temurçin’ glittering design was closely watched by Germany’s highly acclaimed “Welt am Sonntag” newspaper by Karl Lagefeld.

Turkish top model Deniz Akkaya, famous fashion designers Cengiz Abazoğlu and Serdar Uzuntaş as well as his Excellency French Culture Attaché Eric Fajole were among the many well-known guests of the spectacle.
Ümit Temurçin donates all the money generated from the sale of his Zeki Müren designs to a charity and will sends the custom made memory book signed by the evening’s guests to the official Zeki Müren museum in Bodrum.


After completing his ‘Jewelry Design’ degree in Miami International University of Art & Design, Ümit Temurçin concentrated his crafts on men’s jewelry design. Throughout the years, many of his signature pieces were acquired by Turkish and international brands. His design decorated international celebrities such as Israeli pop singer Dana International who wore an Ümit Temurçin signature piece during Eurovision Song Contest in 2011. In recent years Temurçin comes forward with his styling work such as ‘Lost Woman of PERA’ and ’Back to the Nature’. To find out more about Ümit Temurçin’s work please visit www.umittemurcin.com.

Currently Temurçin gives “Visual Merchandising and Window Design” lectures at İstanbul Fashion Academy.


Zeki Müren grew up in the provincial city of Bursa in western Turkey. From 1950 to 1953 he studied decorative arts in Istanbul at the Fine Arts Academy while launching his musical career. Zeki Müren was also a gifted painter, a poet and a popular actor. Zeki Müren loved wearing striking, out-of-ordinary design, and large ornate rings. He always put on heavy make-up. He had a pioneering role in rendering the Turkish society more accepting about homosexuality. He died of a heart attack during a live performance on stage in the city of İzmir on September 24, 1996. His death caused the greatest public grief in years and thousands of Turks attended his funeral.

In his forty-five-year professional career Müren composed more than three hundred songs and made more than six hundred recordings. He was celebrated as the sun of classical Turkish music and was affectionately called "Pasha".

January 24, 2014

Istanbul's Historic Hamams (Turkish Baths)

The Islamic emphasis on personal cleanliness and purification resulted in hundreds of hamams being built throughout Istanbul over the centuries starting from around 1400. This tradition has been passed down from the Romans to the Byzantines to the Turks.

At the height of their building program six hundred years ago, there were over 14,000 Turkish baths in Istanbul. They acted as the neighborhood’s social club as well as a place to clean oneself. Today there are only around 130 but they still offer a unique sanctuary from the overstimulation of the city and a place to awaken the senses.

We take a look at four of Istanbul’s oldest hamams, mainly named after the neighborhoods in which they are found. The Cemberlitas, Galatasaray, Cagaloglu and Hagia Sophia Hurrem Sultan hamams. 

Read more on World Bulletin: Istanbul's Historic Hamams (Turkish Baths)

Cats to Purr on Istanbul Stage

The second longest-running show in Broadway history, one of the world’s best known musicals, “Cats,” comes to the stage at Istanbul’s Zorlu Center Performing Arts Center (PSM) under the main sponsorship of Akbank.. The musical, which started shows on Jan. 21, will be on stage until Feb. 2. with 16 shows. The musical comes to Turkey within the scope of its U.K. and Europe tour. “Cats” was composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, based on “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” by T. S. Eliot, and produced by Cameron Mackintosh.

The musical tells the story of a tribe of cats called the Jellicles and the night they make what is known as “the Jellicle choice” and decide which cat will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a new life. Cats also introduced the song standard “Memory.”

According to the information on its website, since “Cats” first opened on the West End stage in 1981, it has become one of the world’s best known and best loved musicals and has grossed over £1 billion. 

Read more on Hürriyet Daily News: Cats to Purr on Istanbul Stage

January 23, 2014

Gülbi’s Cafe: Diaspora Dumplings

I am not a missionary, but I am not doing this just to make a profit. People must see that there is manti outside of Kayseri, there’s Crimean Tatar manti, as well,” explained Gülben Resuloğlu, in front of her restaurant in the leafy Feneryolu district of Istanbul’s Asian Side.

If Martha Stewart were in the manti (also known as “Turkish ravioli”) business, her place would look just like Gülbi’s – meticulously decorated in pastels, white and floral prints. Everything matched, even the two neatly dressed women who welcomed us, Gülben (the Gülbi in question) and her sister, Leyla. But kept just behind tidy appearances, we discovered, is the pain of being Tatar. We’re convinced that this identity, which was forged in the fire of dispersal and diaspora, made the food taste better.

Gülbi’s family was forced into exile in the mid 19th century at the time of the Crimean War, when Russia was engaged in a struggle with the Ottoman Empire. Tatars were thought to be Ottoman sympathizers, so being one in the Crimea was dangerous indeed. Fearing for their lives, they settled in Dubroja, then part of the Ottoman Empire and now part of Romania, where a Tatar diaspora was already set up. There, the Tatar language, a cousin of modern Turkish, and culture incubated in the tight folds of a community positioned on major 20th-century fault lines. They survived the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the creation of Romania, famine, Communism, Fascist purges and the Second World War. Meanwhile, back in the Crimea, the remaining Tatars were exiled by Stalin to Uzbekistan with devastating consequences. But Gülben and her family remained in Dubroja until 1970, when, exhausted by Ceausescu’s police state, they made their final move to Istanbul, a city, according to Gülben, that her great-grandfather had been aiming for when he was waylaid in Romania. A pastoral nomadic life might be the idealized side of the Tatar identity, but to be a refugee is a reality all Tatars know well, Gülben explained.

Then she offered us a menu. We ordered one of everything. 

Read more on Culinary Backstreets: Gülbi’s Cafe: Diaspora Dumplings

Garipçe, A Little Village Untouched by Istanbul's Third Bridge

Last weekend I went with my photographer friend Murat Germen to another part of Istanbul, Garipçe. Recently, Garipçe has been frequently in the news because of the construction that is going on to build the third bridge and a new highway around Istanbul. Because of his background, Murat, who studied architecture, is very interested in the many projects that are going on in Istanbul at the moment. Urbanization is one of the projects he has been working on for a long time, and he therefore wanted to go to Garipçe.

On our way to Garipçe we passed a piece of land that used to be the property of the army. Maybe it is still theirs, but all we saw was a bare stroke of land. On both sides of the road there were signs that told us that entering was strictly forbidden.

We arrived in Garipçe and I was a bit relieved: At least this little village had not been touched by the construction of the third bridge over the Bosporus. Actually, standing in the harbor of Garipçe you cannot see anything of the construction whatsoever. But a boat was waiting for us and we directly sailed off to see the construction of the controversial third bridge. A lot has been written about it so far; people who are in favor of it come up with their ideas, and the people who are against it try every possibility to get their vision into the media. Finally, I was able to see with my own eyes how it would look from the Bosphorus.

I have to be honest with you; my first impression on seeing this construction was impressive. Two huge pillars stand there on the European side of the Bosphorus. On the other side, there are two more pillars, which are exactly the same height. It will not be long before they start reaching out for each other.

On the other hand, my problem is that yet another huge part of the already scarce forest that remains in and around Istanbul has or will be cut. If it was just the road I even might say: “Let’s think pink and this will be a solution for the traffic problems in and around Istanbul.” But there is a dark cloud hanging over the project as well. History shows this whenever such a project is realized. Think about the first and second bridge over the Bosphorus; shortly after being finished, on both sides of the new road people started building houses, offices and factories. I am scared that the same will happen with this project. The whole flora and fauna will be disturbed, animals will not be able to cross the highway and will be isolated in an area that will become smaller and smaller. In the end, together with the animals and trees, the lungs of Istanbul will be gone. 

January 22, 2014

Istanbul "Where The Passions of the East Meet the Sins of the West!"

Now, in honor of the foreign directors that have set all or part of their films in Turkey, Istanbul’s Türker İnanoğlu Foundation (TÜRVAK) Cinema-Theater Museum is bringing together the posters of foreign films that were made between 1925 and 2013 in Turkey or about Turkey.

The exhibition, “İçinden Türkiye Geçen Yabancı Filmler” (Foreign Films About Turkey), features the visual memory of 54 films from American, European, Australian, Hong Kong and Scandinavian cinemas and four co-productions of Erler Film-Türker İnanoğlu.

Read more on Hürriyet Daily News: Istanbul "Where The Passions of the East Meet the Sins of the West!"

January 19, 2014

Istanbul's Skyline Betrayed

Crimes against this city protected for centuries were committed in the era of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, of all people, who never stops declaring he is a servant of Istanbul, who cites poetry adoring Istanbul and almost bestows sainthood on the sultan who conquered Istanbul. These were not simply mistakes he made but intentional crimes, because the city’s silhouette was marred when the city government granted favors to one of the top donors to Justice and Development Party (AKP) coffers.

This episode actually goes back six years. On Sept. 14, 2011, daily Radikal drew attention to the high-rise construction going up at Zeytinburnu-Kazlicesme and eclipsing the background of Sultanahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque) and Hagia Sophia. The public was rattled not only by the official permission for such a betrayal, but the close relationship of high-rise developer Mesut Toprak with Erdogan.

Read more on Al Monitor: Istanbul's Skyline Betrayed

January 17, 2014

Egyptian ‘Spice Bazaar’ Heats up Istanbul

Founded 350 years ago, the Egyptian market in Istanbul—a hub for trading spices and seasonings between East and West—continues to entice customers.

The market was originally built during the reign of Sultan Murad in 1597, with the aim of raising funds for the “New Mosque”—known as Yeni Valide Camii in Turkish—which still stands near the marketplace. Rental income from the market continues to fund the running of the historic mosque.

The market officially opened in 1664, around 70 years after its construction began. Its distinguishing features include its stone walls and floors, as well as its ornate domes and L-shaped design. It is also the second-largest bazaar in Istanbul, consisting of 88 chambers, 21 of which sell gold and copper, 10 sell gifts and luxury goods, four sell clothing, and the remaining 53 sell herbs, spices, nuts, condiments, cheeses, sausages, dried fruits, jams and dried vegetables, which are a specialty of the market.

The market also sells beauty products made from natural ingredients, such as henna, natural sponges, oils and rosewater. Moreover, there are many powders that were traditionally used in Turkish baths as a means of purifying the skin and looking after it. 

Read more on Asharq Al-Awsat: Egyptian ‘Spice Bazaar’ Heats up Istanbul

Shakespeare Year to Be Marked in Istanbul

The whole world, including Turkey will mark the 450th birthday of Shakespeare with events throughout the year in 2014.

In Turkey, Istanbul’s Kenter Theater will stage his play, “Good Night Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet).” According to a written statement made by the theater, the play recreates Shakespeare’s two best-known tragedies, “Romeo and Juliet” and “Othello,” with a different perspective.

The play is a 1988 comedy by Ann-Marie MacDonald in which Constance Ledbelly, a young English literature professor from Queen’s University, goes on a subconscious journey of self-discovery.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Shakespeare Year to Be Marked in Istanbul

150 Years of Istanbul's Robert College Now Available in Gigantic Catalogue

The Istanbul Research Institute, in collaboration with Robert College, presented an exhibition titled “The Anatomy of a Tradition: 150 Years of Robert College 1863-2013” between May 15 and Aug. 31 at the Istanbul Research Institute gallery.

The exhibition was organized on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Robert College, one of Istanbul’s longest-established and meritocratic educational institutions.

According to a written statement made by the college, the catalogue of the exhibition is now available. The 670-page catalogue shows the capacity of young people and the power of education to bring people together.

The work in the catalogue has been gathered from the Robert College Archive, Robert College Archaeology Collection, Columbia University Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Saint Joseph School and private collections.

Istanbul’s Basilica Cistern, Yerebatan, A Mystery of the East

Istanbul attracts thousands of visitors from all around the world for its magnificent historical cisterns, drizzled both above and underneath all over the city. Cisterns, which generously provided for the water needs of the people during periods of drought were used for many purposes during the history such as silk and lemon warehouses or a shelter after they were drained.

Meaning “small pools” in Arabic, cisterns were stone-made stores to stock up the waters of rain, lakes and rivers to be used efficiently when required.

Being the largest of Istanbul, the Basilica Cistern, (Yerebatan Sarnıcı) is Istanbul’s most extraordinary tourist attractions in the Sultanahmet district.

Read more on Hürriyet Daily News: Istanbul’s Basilica Cistern, Yerebatan, A Mystery of the East

Go Cold Turkey: A Winter's Visit to Istanbul, the Intriguing, Iconic City on Two Continents

As arrived at our flat in the heart of Istanbul, big fat flakes of snow fell around us. The medieval landmark of the Galata Tower looked magical, looming through swirling white clouds. An elderly man dragged a wooden cart up the steep street. He shouted for customers seeking a slug of salep, the sweet Turkish drink originally made from ground orchid roots. 

Opening the front door to the block of flats, a black cat slunk in from the freezing cold. It turned out to be a lucky sign for a lovely short break in the historic city that straddles two continents. Any notion we had stepped back in time was quickly dashed as I set out with my wife and son to explore this astonishing place. 

Istanbul: Where East meets West

East meets west quite literally in Istanbul, for it is the only city in the world that lies in two continents - Asia and Europe.

This is probably the first thing you'll notice on reaching Istanbul - the city looks Asian, the people look European. Istanbul combines the best of traditional and modern with a plentiful offering of food, nightlife, sight-seeing and shopping. 

 Read more on The Times of India: Istanbul: Where East meets West

Istanbul Set to Eclipse London as Europe’s Biggest City by 2020

London’s status as Europe’s most populous metropolitan area is threatened.

So say Euromonitor International, who forecast that Istanbul’s population will eclipse that of London between 2018-19. The Turkish city has been growing at an average rate of 2.6% since 2007, when its population was 12 million. And it will continue its growth for the rest of the decade, ending up at 16.4 million.

Istanbul: City That Straddles the Great Divide

The very name itself conjures up exotic images of veiled belly dancers, whirling dervishes, blue waters and flashes from Indiana Jones And The Raiders Of The Lost Ark. In reality, Istanbul is a vibrant city that straddles cultures and continents.

The Golden Horn, an inlet of the Bosphorus Straits, cuts the city neatly into two, separating its European side from its Asian portion. Most tourists would land in Istanbul in Asia and be ferried to their hotels in Europe across the landmark Bosphorus Bridge.

January 14, 2014

Istanbul Civilizations by Muammer Ketenci @ Pera Palace

Istanbul Civilizations' Fashion Show by Muammer Ketenci was staged on Friday the 10th of January in Pera Palace Jumeirah located in the uptown district of Pera in Istanbul. 

"The intolerance for different religions across the world and the disrespectful manners of some people towards those believing in another religion gave us the idea of organizing this fashion show," said Savaş Uğurlu - the producer and the organization of the event. 

"Ketenci's design aims to stress that people of different religion can live together peacefully regardless of their believes and lifestyles." 

The fashion show included 61 dresses, 20 of which represented Islamic colors and patterns while the rest of the 40 (20/20) were decorated with Jewish and Christian ornaments and patterns. 

When the event travels, "the 61st dress will be always be a signature piece designed differently depending on the city or country where the show is staged," said Uğurlu, highlighting that the 61st dress in Istanbul had the Tulip concept. 

While all the dresses representing the three major Abrahamic religions of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism were designed by Turkish fashion designer Muammer Ketenci, the next acts of 'The Alliance of Civilizations' fashion shows may include works of a Jewish and a Christian designers, Uğurlu said.