September 25, 2014

Rocca Restaurant at Raffles

The newly opened Raffles Hotel at Zorlu Center located on the premises of the prestigious Zorlu Center is set to shake Istanbul’s gastronomic scene with a number of bars as well as two distinct restaurants. Even a quick first glance reveals that Raffles’ motto, ‘passion to exceed’, seems immersed into the culture of their newest branch. Rocca Restaurant, located on the entrance floor, has indeed exceeded our expectations, and will surely set a new standard for hotel dining experiences across the city. Rocca Restaurant’s executive chef is Ali Ronay, whose past ties with the Kitchen Guerilla and Gastronomika are balanced with his extensive experiences at the Kempinski Barbaros Bay in Bodrum, the Ritz Carlton Istanbul and the Dionysos Hotel in Kumlubük, Marmaris, to name a few. The menu he has exclusively created and will be heading up at Rocca restaurant is an ode to the excellent service, the grandeur and the authentic flavors of Istanbul’s old upscale lokantas. In their newly developed a la carte menu, Ronay and his team reworked Turkish flavors according to their inquisitive palates and aesthetic sensibilities. 

Read more on The Guide Istanbul: Rocca Restaurant at Raffles

September 22, 2014

ArtInternational 2014: Booths to Look For

The second installment of ArtInternational will take place from September 26-28 at the Haliç Congress Center and will showcase 78 international galleries and 12 galleries from Istanbul. Art world power-houses like Lisson Gallery, Kerlin Gallery, and Lehmann Maupin are a small sampling of galleries that will show established and museum-level artists. Amidst this fair you’ll find works by Francis Bacon, Louise Bourgeois, street artist Banksy, and one of Damien Hirst’s famous butterfly works, to name a few.

Art fairs can be a whirlwind of over-stimulation and too-quick glances. But when they are good, when they are doing what they are meant to, they are about remembering that one work of art after the deluge. Here, we will focus on the moments we predict you might find something worth remembering at the fair, the moments you may discover something that you would otherwise not be able to see. This is not to underestimate the presence of those aforementioned mega-star galleries, who are always welcome to put things in our line of sight. Nor is picking these international booths meant to neglect our hometown favorites like Galeri NON, Pi Artworks, (who also have a space in London), and Rampa. They all showed great booths at last year’s fair, and we are sure they won’t disappoint this year. Rodeo Gallery will join the Istanbul galleries at the fair this year and will surely be a go-to booth as well. We mean to discuss, instead, ArtInternational bringing us something or someone we hadn’t yet known, but something that feels particularly relevant here.

Read more on The Guide Istanbul: ArtInternational 2014: Booths to Look For

Istanbul Biennial Curator Reveals Concept Behind 'Saltwater' Theme

The Turkish art world took to the stage on the 10th of September, to attend the launch of the concept behind Istanbul’s upcoming art biennial. Called “Saltwater: a Theory of Thought Forms”, the exhibition is due to take place in a variety of unconventional venues throughout the city in year’s time (5 September- 1 November 2015).

To make the point, the curator Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, a former artistic director of Documenta 13, described the framework from the stalls of the gently dilapidating Haldun Taner theatre, originally constructed as a quay-side fruit and vegetable market on the Asian side of Istanbul. Those attending were seated in serried rows on the actors’ side of the proscenium arch.

The biennial will be “a city-wide project on the Bosphorus that considers different frequencies and patterns of waves, the currents and densities of water both visible and invisible, that poetically shape and transform the world,” Christov-Bakargiev said. Istanbul is sited at the pinch point between the cool waters of the Black Sea and the warmer, more saline Sea of Marmara and from one perspective its history has been shaped over the millennia by the brisk current between the two. Christov-Bakargiev said that the concept of waves “refers to history and resistance”.

September 20, 2014

Istanbul May be at Risk for a Major Earthquake in the Future

It turns out that the coast of Istanbul may be in for a major earthquake in the future. Scientists have examined different segments of the North Anatolian Fault, one of the most energetic earthquake zones in the world, and have found that tension may be building along this fault.

When a segment of a major fault line becomes quiet, it can either mean that the "seismic gap" is simply inactive, or that the segment may be a source of potential earthquakes as it quietly builds tension. That's why researchers decided to examine the North Anatolian Fault, looking at 20 years of GPS data along the fault. More specifically, the scientists took data along the fault from about 100 GPS locations, including stations where data are collected continuously. This allowed them to determine that the next large earthquake to strike the region will likely occur along a seismic gap between the Sea of Marmara, which is just five miles west of Istanbul. 


Gastroclub studied the average cost of a meal served in restaurants appealing to low and high-income groups in 30 tourist cities in Europe. The study revealed that Copenhagen is the most expensive city where the high-income group dine. According to the study, a person pays approximately 87.18 euros (TL 243.80; $112.92) to eat a luxury meal in Copenhagen. The cheapest city is the Bulgarian capital Sofia at 20.40 euros, while Turkey follows Sofia at 21.54 euros. The average cost of a luxury meal in Europe is 44.93 euros.

Speaking to an Anadolu Agency (AA) reporter, Gastroclub founding partner Çaglar Karatas gave insights into their study. He noted that the study took low and high-income restaurants into account and that the cost of alcohol was not included.

Istanbul is one of the cheapest cities in Europe both for low and high-income groups. He said that in Istanbul, tourists can have a "fine dining" experience for half the price that they would pay in Europe. "I want to make it clear that "cheap" is a relative term," said Karatas, adding, "Although dining in cities such as Sofia, Istanbul and Prague is not as pricey as other European cities, it is not cheap for their locals since their level of income is lower than their counterparts in other parts of Europe." He added that Istanbul is becoming a "Gastro City."

Read more on Daily Sabah: FINE DINING IN ISTANBUL

September 19, 2014

Istanbul Faces Ecological Disaster with Crazy Projects

Drought and water shortages have been at the top of the country's agenda recently. The rainfall this year has been insufficient and the reservoirs are at worryingly low levels. In addition, the wetlands north of the megacity of İstanbul, which are on the migration route of migratory birds, are being destroyed. Not only the wetlands but also the forests are being ravaged during the construction of the third airport and the third bridge of Istanbul. This is an ecological disaster.

Read more on Today's Zaman:  Istanbul Faces Ecological Disaster with Crazy Projects

Istanbul’s Third Airport Threatens Birds’ Migration Routes

Istanbul’s third airport is located along one of the most important migration routes for birds, experts say, warning that its construction poses dangers not only to the environment, but even flights.

Zeynel Arslangündoğdu, an expert of ornithology at Istanbul University, told Radikal that the northern forests in Istanbul’s European side are among the main corridors used by migrating birds crossing the metropolis.

The controversial facility, promoted by the government to showcase development, will become not only Istanbul’s largest airport but also one of the world’s major hubs. Its construction in one of the city’s most precious natural areas, however, has drawn criticism from activists denouncing a culture of plunder and destruction.

The airport will not only inflict a heavy toll on the living creatures in the affected forests, but may also hold a large impact for birds, Arslangündoğdu said. Some 600,000 birds fly each year in spring and autumn over the area where the airport is being built, including rare species under protection by the Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, to which Turkey is a party, according to Arslangündoğdu.

“Turkey is richer than many European countries in terms of bird species. There are some 470 species across the country. In the area affected by the third airport and the roads connecting to it … we are talking about 200 species. In other words, half of the species in Turkey live there,” he said, adding that migratory birds include rare raptors such as rarely spotted eagles.

September 17, 2014

MOVIE: One Night in Istanbul

Follow the journey of two die-hard Liverpool fans who just have to get to Turkey to watch the 2005 Champions League, only for a few problems to pop up along the way.

An Aerial Tour of Istanbul's Disappearing Forests

Looking at satellite photos of Istanbul over the past 40 years provides a clear view of how the city's forests have been disappearing. Serkan Ocak, Yücel Sönmez and Murat Şaka went up with a helicopter to get an even better understanding of the situation and saw firsthand the area’s transformation.

They saw that vast areas of trees and green land had been wiped out over the years—and hectares more are waiting in line to be destroyed for new projects, such as the city’s third bridge and third airport. 

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: An Aerial Tour of Istanbul's Disappearing Forests

Taxi Fares in Istanbul up by 9%

Taxi fares in Istanbul will soon be hiked by around 9 percent for the first time in 18 months.

While the minimum fare will be raised from 2.95 Turkish Liras to 3.20 liras, the fare per kilometer will rise from 1.83 liras to 2 liras, according to a decision announced by Istanbul’s Chamber of Artisan Taxi Drivers on their website.

Therefore, the minimum amount will increase by 8.5 percent, while the fee per kilometer will become 9.3 percent, which is higher compared to the current rate.

The announcement did not state when the new price tariff will go into effect.

Read more on Hürriyet Daily News: Taxi Fares in Istanbul up by 9%

September 15, 2014

Istanbul's 'Illegal' Towers to Be Demolished After Landmark Court Ruling

Oliver Wainwright - Butting into the Istanbul skyline like a trio of stumpy minarets, three luxury apartment towers loom above the city’s historic peninsula, destroying a majestic silhouette of domes and spires that has remained unchanged for centuries. But now, in an unprecedented ruling, an order from the highest court in Turkey has ordered the buildings to be pulled down.

The OnaltiDokuz Residence, which comprises three graceless shafts of 27, 32 and 37 storeys in the western district of Zeytinburnu, claimed to “redefine what it means to be a citizen”, offering its wealthy residents “a new perspective with breathtaking panoramic views”. Its million-pound penthouses were to provide a “unique living philosophy”, a vantage point from which “the city surrounds you in all its magnificence”. But the city itself wasn’t so keen. The development sparked widespread outrage, lumbering into view like an uninvited guest, photobombing cherished vistas of the 400-year-old Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sophia.

Now the Turkish Council of State has weighed in, approving an earlier ruling by an Istanbul court in May that ordered the buildings’ demolition. It ruled that the structures were illegal, as they “negatively affected the world heritage site that the Turkish government was obliged to protect”. The decision follows earlier murmurings from Unesco, that the city might be placed on its endangered list if the rampant construction continues to press ahead unabated. It is a landmark ruling, but not one that helps to clarify the legal situation of Istanbul’s unstoppable building boom in the slightest.

Istanbul Travel Tips: Where to Go & What to See in 48 Hours

Given its perch at the brink of two continents and its provenance as the treasured capital of two empires, Istanbul seems perpetually at a crossroads. Yet it's perfectly at ease in its myriad personalities: as a buzzing European metropolis bedecked with classical Islamic architecture. And this is the season to visit, with warm autumnal weather that won't leave avid sightseers hot under the collar.

This month Turkey's cultural capital kicks off its arts season with ArtInternational (; 26-28 September) bringing 80 galleries from around the world to exhibit at venues across the city, including a sculpture terrace on the pier (1) overlooking the Golden Horn. Meanwhile, the esteemed Pera Museum (2) goes "street" with an exhibition of graffiti, until 5 October (Merutiyet Caddesi 65; 00 90 212 334 99 00;; TL15/£4; closed Monday). Movie and music fans are also well catered for, with the Filmekimi festival, 11-17 October ( and Akbank Jazz, from 23 October-2 November (

September 14, 2014

Istanbul: Belle of the Bosphorus

Thomas Breathnach - A weekend in Paris, London or Rome? Make mine Istanbul.

When it comes to city escapes, the Turkish capital (Editor's note: Istanbul is Turkey's largest city but not its capital) may be gathering an increasingly touristy buzz but it still largely remains Europe's most unheralded epic metropolis.

An electric bijoux-box of cuisine and culture mixed with bargain basement fares?

I discovered that an off-season trip of Eastern promise is an idea to fall for.

Read more on The Irish Independent: Istanbul: Belle of the Bosphorus

Istanbul - City Lights

THE “Queen of Cities”, as it was known in Byzantine times, was perfectly sited at the intersection of continents, cultures and seas. Istanbul may have been a great and ancient centre of civilisation, but there is nothing serene or timeless about the place. The city has been shaken by abrupt alterations in its physical and cultural landscape, thanks to both human violence and acts of God. It has seen sieges, pogroms, earthquakes, and fires both deliberate and accidental. Between 1569 and 1918 it was transformed by at least 16 huge blazes.

Charles King, a historian and social scientist at Georgetown University, has chosen an unusual way of capturing this dizzying volatility. His book, “Midnight at the Pera Palace”, examines one shortish slice of history, from late Ottoman times to the second world war and its immediate aftermath, and one small site: a hotel which at various times has epitomised luxury, faded elegance, downright seediness and conspiracy.

Of course, the story of the Pera Palace, which was built in 1892, must be told in the broader context of Turkish and European history. So Mr King’s lens has to switch deftly between close-up and wide-angle shots. With nice vignettes, he explains how the hotel’s owners and clients shifted in response to the changing fortunes of the city and the country. 

Read more on The Economist: Istanbul: City Lights

September 03, 2014

Experience Istanbul: Unique and Alternative Things to Do in the City

The approach and behaviour of travellers is rapidly changing. Now, we are looking for unique and local experiences. When we travel abroad, we want to be a part of the local daily life and start searching for things to do... In this post, we will inspire you with your Istanbul itinerary. 

Below you can find some of our all time favourite things to do in Istanbul:

Watch the sunset from Üsküdar  (Leanders Tower)

You can watch the best sunset at Üsküdar area. Located right by the shores of Bosphorus, Üsküdar has the most beautiful sunset view in the city.

Eat fish and bread at Karaköy

This is 100% local and a delicious experience. Located right next to Karaköy fish market, there are number of bargain fish restaurants. You can choose your ingreditents for your fish (bonito) and bread. They grill the fish on real coal fire. You can also grab an ice cold Turkish beer. Balıkçı Emin Usta is highly recommended. Read more about Emin Usta on Foursquare

Have breakfast at Rumeli Hisarı

Breakfast is very important in Turkish culture. Number of different Turkish cheese, cucumber, tomatoes, olives, chorizo (sucuk), salami, simit bread, honey and of course clotted cream. There are plenty of places specialist in breakfast. Due to its unique location by the water Rumeli Hisari is among the most prefered places by the locals. Café Nar or  Kale Café are highly recommended.

Listen to street musicians at İstiklal Avenue

İstiklal Avenue is the longest pedestrian street of Istanbul. Starting from Taksim Square to the famous Galata Tower, this vibrant avenue is full of surprises. Starting from 4pm till midnight Istiklal Avenue becomes concert hall for street musicians. From swing to Turkish folk, Russian to Indian different genres of music are available here. You can reward yourself with a nice afternoon cocktail at 360 Istiklal or Georges Hotel Galata.

If you are interested in learning more about the local things to watch out for on this vibrant Istanbul street, visit Istanbul Tour Studio:

Have a private Bosphorus cruise

No need to describe how beatufiul and glamorous Bosphorus is. A private yacht cruise along the Bosphorus strait is amogn the essentials. Prepare your camera and get ready to discover the unparalleled atmosphere of Bosphorus Strait. Most of the tours last approximately two hours. 

You can check out Istanbul Tour Studio for more information about private Bosphorus boat tours:

September 01, 2014

Webit Congress is to Take Place in Istanbul

Over 10,000 attendees from 110 countries are expected to participate in the upcoming Global Webit Congress, a digital and tech event bridging Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

The sixth edition of the congress, which will be held on October 1-2 in Istanbul, Turkey, will bring together more than 200 of the world's global digital and tech leaders as well as CEOs, CTOs and CIOs of the world's most innovative companies.

Webit Congress is a global event for digital, tech and telco industries, which supports the growth of the "digital and tech industry," and promotes knowledge and know-how to create the best possible business networking event.

Read more on Daily Sabah: Webit Congress is to Take Place in Istanbul

The Imaginary Istanbul in Patrick Leigh Fermor's Literary Odyssey

In December 1933, Patrick Leigh Fermor, 18, set off from London with the goal of crossing Europe on foot from the Netherlands to Istanbul, which he reached at the end of the following year. Decades later, he retold this youthful adventure in "A Time of Gifts" (1977) and "Between the Woods and the Water" (1986), the first two parts of a planned trilogy that made him one of the most acclaimed British travel writers of the 20th century. Yet the second book left off at the Romanian-Bulgarian border, with the tantalizing phrase "To Be Concluded," and for almost 40 years, his readers awaited the final volume, which he left unfinished when he died at age 96 in 2011.

The conclusion of Fermor's trilogy was finally published in 2013, posthumously edited by his friend Artemis Cooper, but as its title "The Broken Road" suggests, the account abruptly ends on the Bulgarian coast just north of Turkey. Fermor's impressions of Istanbul were relegated to an anticlimactic few pages of notes from his original travel diary. Cooper (also the author of the definitive biography "Patrick Leigh Fermor," 2012) suggests in her introduction that Fermor's disappointment hindered him from describing the city: "he recounts nothing of the leftover Byzantine glories of the old capital. . . and little of its Ottoman splendour." 

80 Art Galleries from 24 Countries Meet in Istanbul

The second ArtInternational art fair will be held at Haliç Congress Center in Istanbul from Sept. 26 to 28. Art enthusiasts will enjoy artwork from 80 different galleries from 24 countries around the globe, including Finland, the United States, China, and Saudi Arabia.

Twelve galleries from Turkey were chosen by the selection committee after considering their past success at international exhibitions. Along with last year’s participating galleries –Galeri Mana, NON, Pi Artworks, PILOT, Rampa, Art Sümer, and x-ist – the fair will host four new Turkish galleries, including Dirimart, Galeri Nev, Rodeo and Sanatorium for the first time.

ArtInternational 2014 will bring together some of the most iconic names in contemporary art. London’s Andipa Gallery will exhibiting art work from David Hockey, Banksy and Damien Hirst, not to mention some pieces from the revolutionary “pop art” pioneer Andy Warhol.

Visitors will be able to view the work of Peter Burke, one of the most famous sculpturists known for his steel and iron works featuring the human form. The 2003 Turner Prize Winner, Grayson Perry, who is mostly known for his ceramic vases, will present his autobiographical work entitled “Claire,” where he is depicted as his female alter-ego. 

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: 80 Art Galleries from 24 Countries Meet in Istanbul