This newly-opened restaurant proves that the open fire cooking concept works well not only on camping grounds but also on top of a five-star hotel in the center of Istanbul. In case you have any doubts about what a center-staged stove does on a Bosphorus-facing rooftop in Karaköy, our answer is simple: it makes pretty much everything on the menu.
Mürver is the newest brainchild of the acclaimed Istanbul chef Mehmet Gürs. His signature eatery, Mikla, has been awarded raving reviews by both the local and international community; knowing this, it is easy to have high expectations for Mürver. The setting alone resembles Mikla: a hotel rooftop, a Bosphorus view, and a bar and lounge alongside the dining area–and this is where the resemblance comes to an end. Mürver is a much-welcomed departure from Mikla’s fine dining setup, which is noticeable from the lack of white tablecloth on the tables and the open, stove-dominated area where the culinary magic happens. Mürver’s setup also allows curious diners to take a peek into the back of the house, which sends them a message of honesty and accessibility. The same message applies to the menu price range that situates it amongst places more suitable for a casual after-work unwind.
Overseeing Mürver’s kitchen operations is executive chef Yılmaz Öztürk. Upping the ante of the smoking game, Öztürk has introduced and mastered various fiery cooking techniques used at the restaurant, some of which include wood-oven, wood-grilled, slow-cooked, and smoked cooking techniques.
For starters, smoked tongue with pickled green apple, ash-roasted octopus with Aegean greens, or calamari cooked over an open fire are some of the most interesting menu options. For your main course, try the Thrace lamb and dry-aged beef, which come with a plethora of side dishes such as firik pilavı, yogurt, or spicy fruit compote (hoşaf). Keep in mind that these main course dishes are served in portions for two. Leaving enough room for dessert might be a challenge, but if you decide to accept it, you’re in for a truly delicious treat. We recommend Mürver’s burnt sütlaç. Inspired by traditional oven-baked pudding with the perfect combination of crispy, smoky, and milky, this plate is way more than what you’d expect.
Since Mikla is known to have one of the best restaurant wine lists in Istanbul, Mürver doesn’t disappoint with anything less. The full bar, featuring signature cocktails, and lounge area alone are well-worth the visit before you begin your culinary feast. It might be overwhelming to try all of the food and drinks in one go, but we guarantee you will be coming back for more at Mürver.
- Cash and credit card
Izmir: Beating heart of the Aegean
Boasting a cuisine developed on unique ingredients and award-winning wine, Izmir is the starting point of a memorable journey sprawling from resort towns like Alaçatı to the ancient sites such as Ephesus.
Known as Smyrna in ancient times, İzmir is a metropolitan city on the west coast of Anatolia. Its famous clock tower is located in the center of the city which was once a busy port exporting goods arriving from the Silk Road to the west. Former trade hub, the city is an ideal base for curious visitors, who want to explore the region, discover the remains of ancient world, and travel further to the booming resort towns of Alaçatı, Çeşme, and Urla.
The recently opened Aila at Fairmont Quasar Istanbul proves that there is plenty of room for surprise as far as hotel restaurants are concerned. The new Turkish cuisine-oriented venue is one to look up to with regards to decor, menu and the wine list, and is well on its way to become one of Istanbul’s new favorites.
The restaurant has a separate entrance that doesn’t require unnecessary wander around the lobby, and all the details hidden behind the blue doors offer one astonishment after another. The modern, spacious venue is divided into multiple dining rooms, the main one facing an open kitchen, creating a space that is commodious yet cosy and intimate. ‘Spice Library’ is another distinctive decoration detail that adds a touch of elegant authenticity, often sought after by international visitors.
Aila’s selection of mezze is a creative masterpiece by chef Umut Karakuş, previously of Duble Meze Bar in Beyoğlu. Menu design makes it easy to navigate among a plethora of options, with separate sections dedicated to vegan mezze, the classics, seafood-based and hot dishes. With Turkey’s finest ingredients used to execute the recipes, the chef draws the country’s culinary map, ensuring the diners have enough information to make a knowledgeable choice. We wouldn’t have chose better ourselves, knowing that the chickpea used to make hummus comes from Çorum, prawns from Iskenderun, and the lamb is from Thrace.
Ocakbaşı section of the restaurant offers some of the finest meat cuts cooked up to your liking, however if you’re not a keen meat-eater, the selection of veggie dishes will not disappoint: traditional soups and salads, vegetable casserole and pide, or ottoman-style piruhi are all there to save the day. Parallel to the culinary map of Turkey, one of the Turkish wines is presented (listed according to regions of origin) with local highlights such as emir, narince, yapıncak or acıkara. A full bar serves classic cocktails with its own elegant, yet nostalgic twist—you will definitely want to try the raki-based new Istanbul Sour, the hotel’s signature.
In the summer, Aila has nostalgic Turkish film screenings in the garden. On those selected movie nights fix menu is available.
- Meyhane (Turkish Tavern)
- Cash and credit card
Top 7 places in Istanbul for detail appreciators
In collaboration with MINI Clubman
Istanbul is the ultimate destination for those who like to admire craftsmanship in close proximity. Whether it’s a centuries-old landmark, or an elegantly plated dish at a restaurant, the city’s finesse hidden in the details offers the perfect backdrop for experienced explorers. Here’s our top picks to dine and shop in, staying true to your interests and impeccable taste all the way.
It’s about where you eat
Bomontiada is a modern post-industrial complex that resembles similar projects in major European cities. The mood is also very western-like, with hip restaurants, bars, and common spaces designed for young crowds to mingle and enjoy. Onsite restaurants skillfully blend modern approaches to cooking with traditional techniques, and if you’re a fan of local artisanal production, you can also shop and take your favorites home with you.
The understated facade of Mr. Cas Hotel is home to an architectural gem, true to its original époque and nostalgic ambiance. The top floor lounge, easy to miss if you don’t know it exists, serves its customers all-day-long. If the weather permits, observe the intriguing historical details of Beyoğlu from the terrace. At night, you will fall in love with the exquisitely sculpted bar.
There is no better Italian restaurant in Istanbul than Antica Locanda, a place that brings to mind traditional trattorias, yet true to its nostalgic Istanbul flare. Attached to a historical Greek church in Arnavutköy, the place benefits from its unique and varied layout making the space cozy and welcoming. We’ve already said it, but it’s worth repeating: the food is exceptional.
Wearing it the right way
Reflecting a modern approach to male elegance, Civan offers custom-made fashion for those gentlemen who intend to make a statement through the way they carry themselves. Accessories that make the general person stand out in a crowd by complimenting high-quality garment pieces.
Master jeweler Manuk Durmazguler is known for digging up a delicate beauty hidden in rough materials. Manuk’s Workshop in Karaköy displays accessories for men and women, including his signature rough diamonds, crafted using centuries-old techniques that Durmazguler, as a young apprentice, learned from his mentors at Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar.
All the things around
World traveler and inspiration-seeker, Aslı Günşiray gathered precious objects of desire, creating a one of a kind collection that reflects her passion for well-thought-out interiors. True to the idea that the devil is in the details, Günşiray filled her showroom with furniture and accessories that add a finishing touch to every type of surrounding.
Creating objects that last, Hamm Design uses high-quality materials to design contemporary and sleek interiors. The designers’ collective is comprised of some of the most talented creativity in the city. Crafts minimalistic in detail yet bold in design furniture pieces. Paying homage to the traditional mastery, Hamm fulfills an important mission of preserving the local savoir fare.
In collaboration with MINI Clubman
To discover new MINI Clubman visit this page.
How Zeynep Ahunbay unveils the mysteries of Hagia Sophia
The many older parts of Istanbul are home to a number of historic buildings from the Byzantine and Ottoman eras that require regular maintenance to keep their magnificence. Thankfully, architects such as Professor Zeynep Ahunbay have spent their lifetimes overseeing the conservation and restoration of these buildings. Having been instrumental in the restoration of structures such as Hagia Sophia, Zeyrek Mosque, and the Theodosian Walls, Ahunbay this year received the Vehbi Koç Award for her contributions to Turkey’s cultural life.
As Ahunbay told The Guide Istanbul, the work of a restoration architect is about more than drawing up plans. “For example, the city walls shouldn’t be understood as a wall. There are particular periods when they were made—the fifth century, the Middle Ages, and the Ottoman era. You have to read and understand all of that before taking action,” she explains. “When you give the work to a contractor and don’t supervise it, they can treat it as just constructing a wall. That isn’t restoration. So the architects have to be constantly involved.” In terms of its historical value and the time spent working there, Hagia Sophia was Ahunbay’s most important project. The size of the sixth-century building presents unique challenges for restoration. “The first precaution taken in the 1990s was the stabilization and cleaning of the mosaics on the large dome. It’s very hard to reach of course, so they used a special scaffold. The dome is 55 meters up, and the scaffold was around 53-meters tall, so you could touch the dome when standing on top. That was a great milestone because of the difficulty of touching that space,” she says. Later, Ahunbay supervised the restoration of the dome’s lead covering, which was allowing water to seep through.
Ongoing restoration efforts are removing cement that was added to the walls in the 1950s. “Some interesting marks have emerged from under the cement on the northern interior. Those marks have been mapped out for restoration that will begin soon,” she notes. According to Ahunbay, the building still has secrets to be uncovered such as mosaics hidden behind the remaining cement and potential artifacts buried in the area that was originally the church’s atrium. She also speculates that there could be tunnels connecting the Hagia Sophia’s underground cistern to the nearby Yerebatan Cistern.
Due to the vast number of historic buildings in Istanbul, Ahunbay stresses that the most imperiled must be saved before the worst happens. “For example, some towers and parts of the city walls are under threat and need urgent attention. This is a world heritage site that the whole world values and respects. Apart from that, there is civil architecture such as wooden houses that are in a ruined condition—if nothing is done, they’ll be lost completely.” Aside from the major projects, Ahunbay expresses pride about her restoration of Siyavuşpaşa Medresesi in Eminönü, which had been in a state of ruin for 100 years. This sixteenth-century religious college is now home to the Hilye-i Şerif and Prayer Beads Museum.
Encouraging tourists to go further than the classic sights of Sultanahmet, Ahunbay has her own recommendations for exploring Istanbul. “The shore of the Golden Horn is incredibly interesting, especially Fener, Balat, and Ayvansaray. Then there’s Eyüp, which not many tourists go to I suppose, the villages along the Bosphorus, and Üsküdar. Every area has its own hidden history. If you know how to look at those places, you can read very beautiful things in them.” This eclectic taste extends to restaurants as well, with her top two being Konyalı, a traditional Turkish restaurant on the grounds of Topkapı Palace, and the Uyghur restaurants in Aksaray.
Get to know director Ferzan Özpetek’s Istanbul
His latest movie, İstanbul Kırmızısı, brought Ferzan Özpetek back to his hometown of Istanbul, and with all that has changed over the years, he had something to say about it.
Photos by Yiğit Eken
“Istanbul is changing.” This is a phrase residents of the city have gotten used to hearing, along with “Istanbul survives only in memories.” The latter is also a line from Ferzan Özpetek’s latest movie, İstanbul Kırmızısı. It is easy to put the blame on the city even though it is the people who change the city, not the city itself. “What affects me is not the change in the city, it is the change in people, their behavior and worldview,” Özpetek told The Guide Istanbul.
Istanbul-born screenwriter and director has been living in Italy since 1976, but he keeps coming back to Istanbul for movie shoots or holiday, and because of this, he probably notices the differences that Istanbul residents cannot realize and has included them in this movie.
In Rosso Istanbul—İstanbul Kırmızı in Turkish (Red Istanbul)—Özpetek invites audiences to see how Istanbul can play a huge part in residents’ lives. From the opening scene to the end credits, the movie takes you on a ride with the city, how it revives memories and becomes an actual character in people's stories. The movie is inspired by Özpetek’s book of the same name, which was originally published in 2013. Talking about the film, Özpetek says “it’s a story of an editor who goes to Istanbul after 20 years.” The editor, Orhan (Halit Ergenç), is in Istanbul to work on director and writer Deniz’s (Nejat İşler) book, which is about his family and friends. Deniz disappears the day Orhan arrives in the city, and while looking for him, Orhan faces his past and future in Istanbul.
The movie got mixed reviews from audiences—after the closing credits, people started murmuring, "Is this it? Will there be a sequel? What kind of an ending is this?" Yet this did not upset Özpetek. “I really liked people’s discussions at the end of the movie.” Just like the city, İstanbul Kırmızısı is mysterious, unpredictable, and awe-inspiring.
Through Özpetek’s looking glass
The world, especially Istanbul, might seem very different when you see it from Özpetek’s point of view. The success of his movies comes from showing things in a different light than they are generally perceived. Leaving the theater, if they get past criticizing the movie, the audience can see how important the changes they overlook can be, or look at a traditional concept from a different perspective.
The opening scene of İstanbul Kırmızısı is a construction site on the Karaköy shoreline. The rhythmic sound of a pile-driving machine repeats during the movie’s momentous sequences. “That’s a machine that takes Istanbul’s insides out. With that sound, many things deteriorate, many things change,” Özpetek explains. He fed the sound into the theme song together with the composers of the movie’s original soundtrack, Giuliano Taviani and Carmelo Travia.
“In the mornings I could hear it from my house, and sometimes it blends with the call to prayer and something so profane and so sacred emerges,” Özpetek explains. The way this sound is used in the movie emphasizes the degrading change in the city and is a denunciation of that degeneration.
His directing debut, Hamam (1997), successfully showed audiences outside of Turkey a different side of hammam culture and break stereotypes. “They saw [hammams] as a touristy institution, whereas I shot the movie with a different feeling,” he explains. “Hammams and circumcision, these were matters of shame for everyone during those times.” The critically acclaimed movie went to Cannes Film Festival and other international festivals, sweeping awards in Turkey, Italy, and other countries. “Some people likened it with sexuality, some said otherwise. However, there is a philosophy of reaching the soul by cleaning the flesh in hammams.” Interest in hammams grew quite a bit after the release of the movie. “The owner of Çemberlitaş Hamamı told me, ‘I made loads of money thanks to you,’” Özpetek says.
“Now is the time to visit Istanbul”
Although he lives in Italy and is busy making new movies, Özpetek comes to Istanbul often for 15 days or a month. “Istanbul is a city that offers you thousands of things—it is a city that takes you away. I like to walk the side streets and sit down at small cafes, small places that you’d never think of.” He encourages his non-Turkish friends to visit Istanbul outside the movies as well. “I tell them now is the time to visit Istanbul. Go, stay at Pera Palace Hotel, a hotel that you would dream of. Now it’s very cheap. There is a great restaurant just across the street, Duble Meze. In the past, you would reserve your table two months beforehand. Now it’s empty. There are no lines at the museums,” Özpetek says, reciting his tips.
These days, Özpetek is in Naples shooting a new thriller, Napoli Velata, starring Giovanna Mezzogiorno, and directing the opera La Traviata for the third time. “I’d be in Istanbul right now if I wasn’t busy preparing another movie.”
Ferzan Özpetek’s Istanbul
Galata, Bebek, Üsküdar, Kuzguncuk
Top 7 breezy gardens in Istanbul
Sometimes all you need is some shade and a breath of fresh air during the summer time in Istanbul. Whether it’s for a breakfast with family, or drinks with friends to cool off while enjoying the sunset, a comfortable outdoor seat amongst luscious greenery is nourishing and essential during the hot months. Give this list a read before making reservations next time you’re looking for something like this.
Backyard is a kind of safe zone located in Bebeköy. You could visit both in the mornings and in the evenings. It has been popular for city locals due to its peaceful aura brought on by the welcoming garden. Backyard is popular for delicious breakfast options, prepared with local ingredients and also known for delicious salad options. Otlukbeli Caddesi, Bebeköy Sokak No.4 Etiler; T: (0212) 287 15 00
One of the classics of the Asian Side, Café Zanzibar boasts a spacious garden overlooking the azure Marmara Sea and a well-thought out menu catering to anyone’s palate from breakfast to dinner. Cemil Topuzlu Caddesi Köşk Sokak No.112, Caddebostan; T: (0216) 385 64 30
Ahali 279 is an ideal spot for large gatherings as well as escaping the city for the weekend. Cabana-like seating spaces create a romantic setting overlooking the lush foliage. Breakfast is available all day long and the menu is wholesome and diverse. Kilyos Caddesi No.279, Sarıyer; T: 0532 351 79 84
With its spacious garden in all hues of greens, Limonlu Bahçe offers you an escape from the crowded streets of İstiklal. Cool off with one of the many drinks featured on the venue’s menu. Yeniçarşı Caddesi, No.98, Galatasaray; T: (0212) 252 10 94
Set among beautiful buildings in Cihangir, White Mill offers a peaceful spot in the middle of the city’s center. The café’s large and cozy garden attracts locals daily. Enjoy a glass of lemonade or go for a beer, either way you are sure to cool off. Susam Sokak No. 13, Cihangir; T: (0212) 292 28 95
One of the best places to enjoy rakı and kebab on the Asian Side of Istanbul. The restaurant’s menu is a mix of Turkish, Arabic, and Ottoman cuisines. The roomy garden can host hundreds. Eski Kısıklı Caddesi No.129, Altunizade; T: (0216) 422 55 80
Suvla is bound to be the breeziest spot in the busy business district of Levent. Decorated with flora and chic tables, Suvla’s terrace provides its guests with an idyllic atmosphere perfect for pleasant conversations over delicious dishes and impeccable local wine. Kanyon Shopping Mall terrace floor, Büyükdere Caddesi No.185, Levent; T: (0212) 353 54 64
Where to go for open air cinema in Istanbul
With summer in full swing, its time to carry movie nights outside to seek the pleasures of the warm summer breeze. You can end your summer days cooling off at these five different outdoor cinema locations and watch the classics or recent masterpieces while taking advantage of the summer to the fullest.
Open-Air Film Festival
Throughout the summer
As lights dim with the setting sun, UNIQ opens its doors for all movie lovers. Collaborating with Başka Sinema, UNIQ Istanbul is screening many award-winning movies including The Beatles: Eight Days a Week, Snowden and Trainspotting 2. For the festival program visit uniqistanbul.com. Tickets at mobilet.com.
Outdoor Cinema By the Bosphorus
Sait Halim Paşa Yalısı
Gaggenau is taking cinema out on the port of Sait Halim Paşa Yalısı for a luxurious movie experience. The setting, right on the Bosphorus under the starry summer sky, is an exquisite match to the romance of La La Land and the thrill of Passengers that are among other hyped up movies on the program. Treats continue all night, starting with a pre-movie open buffet as well as popcorn and ice cream throughout the movie. Tickets available at biletix.com.
Open-Air Cinema Wednesdays
Every Sunday from May 31–August 16
Wednesday is the designated movie night at Bomontiada with selected movies from around the world in varying genres. TV+ and Başka Sinema come together to form a unique cinema experience, embedded within the sweet summer air. All screenings are free of charge. See the full schedule at bomontiada.com.
Outdoor Movies at the Park
Zorlu Center Meydan Park
Every Tuesday and Thursday throughout the summer
With a selection of movies featuring Oscar winner La La Land, animated comedy The Boss Baby, biography of outstanding women pioneers who worked for Nasa Hidden Figures and touching Turkish movie İkinci Şans (Second Chance), Zorlu’s open-air cinema has something for everyone from all ages. Don’t miss these outdoor movie nights free of charge. All movies start at 9:15pm. Find out more at zorlucenter.com.
Hailing from İzmir, the newly opened Pizza Locale is a living proof that one more Italian eatery is never one too many. The casual joint offers classic Italian delicacies side by side with their Turkish interpretations, such as Tire sucuk pizza. Gourmets will appreciate the fact that the ingredients are sourced from the place’s Aegean hometown. The venue boasts an outdoor seating space, as well as long tables inside. As reservations are not accepted, and the eatery gets crowded during lunchtime, arriving before or after rush hours is recommended. If you like your Italian in the comfort of your own home, the place delivers, too. Göktürk branch will open in August, followed by another joint in Ataköy in October.
- Outdoor Seating
- Good for Groups
- Kid Friendly
- Pet Friendly
- Cash and credit card
Büyük Ev Ablukada (Live)
Büyük Ev Ablukada has left their mark in the local music industry with their conversational vocals, freeing lyrics and flowing compositions since its formation in 2008. They will be taking the stage at Peyote Cennet Bahçesi in Burgazada on July 8th.
The band has taken a new direction in their artistic path with Fırtınayt, a set of live performances exploring a unique take on electronic music mixed with their sultry vocals. The night will start with Peyote DJ Taha Kiremitçi’s set featuring afro-beat, psychedelic and disco music. Büyük Ev Ablukada will take the stage at 8:30pm. Tickets at biletix.com.
#istanbulwithkids: summer time
Akbank Sanat has put together a summer schedule filled with art workshops for children between the ages of 6-14.
The workshops range from drawing, music, sculpture to mosaic and offer an extensive artistic exploration specialized for nourishing children’s creativity. The workshops include “A Journey of Music and Painting with Beethoven” singing along lyrics written to Beethoven’s famous pieces and drawing scenery inspired from his music, “I'm Drawing A Selfie” exploring different emotional expressions on paper through self portraits, and many more activities blending different artistic forms. İstiklal Caddesi, No.8, Taksim; T: (0212) 245 12 28; www.akbanksanat.com
Istanbul Modern is inviting children from ages 7-12 to participate in artistic workshops, in the guidance of experienced artists until the busy school year restarts.
Morning workshops allow young artists to experiment in different fields combining art history, design, animation, architecture with hands on activities. In the afternoon, artists including Sinan Demirtaş work closely with children in workshops with a new artistic focus each day. Besides Mondays, each workshop also takes children to exhibits at the museum that are closely related to the subject at hand. Meclis-i Mebusan Caddesi, No.4, Tophane; T: (0212) 334 73 52; www.istanbulmodern.org.
Sakıp Sabancı Museum
Sakıp Sabancı Museum has prepared weekly summer school programs filled with six different types of activities throughout the week, giving kids an immersive artistic experience at the museum.
“Art at the Museum” activities feature tours of summer’s highlight exhibits, Feyhaman Duran’s “Between Two Worlds” and Selim Turhan's “Thesis – Antithesis– Synthesis”, with follow-up workshops. In the afternoon children participate in workshops on drawing, illustration and puppetry by Enis Malik Duran, printmaking by Merve Turan and illustration by Erhan Cihangiroğlu, as well as making their own technological creations in projects of “Science and Technology at the Museum”. Besides artistic endeavors, the program begins each morning with “Yoga at the Museum” conducted by Cihangir Yoga instructors and keeps kids physical with swing dance lessons. “Camp at the Museum” brings camp spirit to the museum with tents, team activities and camp rituals. For a special treat at lunch, kids taste The Culinary Arts Academy(MSA)’s preparations for “Picnic at the Museum”. Sakıp Sabancı Caddesi No. 42, Sarıyer; T: (0216) 550 97 62; www.sakipsabancimuzesi.org/en
UNIQ Istanbul’s “Creativity Summer Camp” consists of day-long workshops centered on engaging kids to think outside the box in multiple fields of fine art, theater, cinema, math, science, philosophy and sports. The week long program has two periods, the first one starting on July 31st and the second between August 14-25. Within only a week the program teaches new skills in arts and sciences as well as surrounding kids with an entertaining social environment. Ayazağa Caddesi No.4, Maslak; T: (0212) 269 00 69 / 0533 273 40 82; uniqistanbul.com
Kidzmondo, a “city for kids”, offers children to peek into the adult world, trying out different career professions. This summer Kidzmondo is organizing three different summer camps specializing in arts, technology and the outdoors. Each program encourages creativity and team spirit as well as teaching children specialized skills in professional fields. With each camp’s unique selection of activities, Kidzmondo gives children a taste of different professional pursuits they might want to explore in the future. Mecidiyeköy Yolu Caddesi No.12, Şişli; T: (0212) 348 10 00; www.kidzmondoistanbul.com
Istanbul Toy Museum
Istanbul’s one and only Toy Museum, on the Asian side of the city, is an entertaining location for both parents and children. The museum enhances its guests experience with different workshops taking place throughout the summer. ”Wooden Toy Painting Workshop” is one of these activities, allowing your kids to project their creativity onto wooden figures including animals, and personalized toys with different colors they wish to use. Ömer Paşa Caddesi, Dr Zeki Zeren Sokak No.17; T: (0216) 359 45 50; www.istanbuloyuncakmuzesi.com
Worlds biggest thematic aquarium, Istanbul Aquarium takes guests from all ages on a trip into the marvels of the underwater world. Following the travel route, you can visit 17 different themes from the Black Sea to the Pacific as well as a rainforest. Continue your adventure trying to solve the path of the Mirror Maze. Starting at 15:00 don’t forget to watch the feeding time of the aquarium’s unique habitants. Şenlikköy Mahallesi, Yeşilköy Halkalı Caddesi, No.93, Florya; T: (0212) 574 21 35; www.istanbulakvaryum.com
Forestanbul is a freeing location for youngsters and adults with its outdoor activities embedded in Kemer’s deep green forest. You can do zip lining over breathtaking views, complete a high rope parkour or the climbing wall to test your limits, and play competitive paintball. With its escape room and go cart, Forestanbul adds on to your adventurous day. It is also a unique location for an unforgettable birthday celebration. Kurt Kemeri Mesire Yeri, Davutpaşa Caddesi, Kemerburgaz, Eyüp; T: 0542 740 0 740; www.forestanbul.com
Happy Nest is a social and educational family club offering a place for entertainment for children of all ages. They host activities including ceramic, dance, theater and cooking as well as birthday parties and activities for toddlers younger than 12 months. Their multilingual library provides your children a place to discover new stories and improve their reading habits together with their peers. Onaran Sokak No.4, Hareket Sitesi, Etiler; (0212) 257 87 87; www.happynest.com.tr
PIQUÉ Family Club
PIQUÉ offers social entertainment for the whole family. While activities including art, cooking, music, theater encourage kids’ creative expression, sports facilities with a climbing wall allow them the physical outlet they need. As your kids socialize in activities you can take advantage of PIQUE’s restaurant, bar and lounge areas. Without a pre-established schedule, PIQUE kids can explore and personalize their time with a wide range of activities. Lotus World, Ambarlıdere Caddesi No.6, Ortaköy; T: (0212) 273 29 58; www.piquefamilyclub.com
Between July 21-24, Big Burn is joining electronic music lovers with primary DJs and producers of the field at Suma Beach.
This year’s only camping festival of Suma Beach offers endless down and high-tempo electronic music for 3 days with a line-up highlighting legendary Richie Hawtin, Luciano for first time in Istanbul, tech-house master Loco Dice, house essential Dixon, queen of techno Nicole Moudaber and Berlin’s influential names like Nu as well as an Acid Paulu Showcase. Information about the artists and the program is at bigburn.istanbul. Tickets selling fast on biletix.com.
Event Places :
Jazz in the Parks
Istanbul Jazz Festival’s essential Jazz in Parks, invites all to enjoy nature together with music at Fenerbahçe Khalkedon on July 9th.
The day will start with a line-up introducing Young Jazz bands, selected through a preliminary concert, followed by a performance by Spanish band Mastretta. The experimental music of Mastretta has a Mediterranean taste with a twist of rock. A day full of music will conclude with an outdoor movie screening of Sugarman. Don’t forget to checkout the Design Bazaar of TAK that will also have a stand at the park. Information on the line-up and program is at caz.iksv.org. Tickets are available through biletix.com.
Fatoumata Diawara and Hindi Zahra (Live)
The sensational vocals of Fatoumata Diawara and Hindi Zahra will fill the terrace of The Grand Tarabya Hotel on July 17th.
Fatoumata Diawara came together with Zahra, a talent in both jazz and world music, as a part of their Olympic Cafe Tour. Their breath-taking vocals will introduce blended sensations of rhythmical jazz and world music to their audience. You can get your tickets at biletix.com. More information is available on caz.iksv.org.
Event Places :
Kerem Görsev Quartet (Live)
Kerem Görsev is celebrating his 50th anniversary of playing the piano by playing with his quartet including Ferit Odman, Kağan Yıldız and Engin Recepoğulları. The quartet will perform at Zorlu PSM Drama Stage on July 14th under the 24th Istanbul Jazz Festival.
Kerem Görsev fell in love with the piano during his conservatory training. He started to release his own music in the 90s. Today, he is among the leading names within Turkish jazz communities, performing both nationally and worldwide. More information is available at caz.iksv.org. Tickets at biletix.com.
Event Places :
%100 Music: Electronica Festival
%100 Music: Electronica Festival, an event by radio station Future Generation, is from July 29-30 at Suma Beach. The massive line-up consists of Andhim, Architectural, Claptone, Eagles & Butterflies, Elderbrook and Stavroz.
Last year brought 3000 music lovers to Suma Beach, Electronica Festival is preparing to be 2017’s biggest electronic music celebration transforming the venue into a festival village with multiple stages, pop-up shops, workshops and selected flavors. Tune in to FG 93.7 or visit electronicafest.com for a taste of the festival. Tickets at biletix.com.
Event Places :
Istanbul Cocktail Festival
Istanbul Cocktail Festival, exhibiting Istanbul’s favorite cocktails with tastings and workshops, brings together all cocktail lovers with famous drinks from the city’s stand out cocktail bars on October 21-22 at UNIQ Istanbul.
The festival will answer all questions on cocktails from A to Z. Guests will both experience how to use the perfect ingredients in precise portions to make their own cocktails and taste samples from trendy city cocktail bars throughout the day. Checkout the Facebook event for further information. Purchase your tickets at biletix.com
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Moovment Festival, organized by One Colony, is featuring pioneering names of electronic music KSHMR and Ummet Ozan with exhilarating light and visual performances. Offering an in-city festival escape, the event will take place at Küçük Çiftlik Park on August 29th.
Previously brought worldly renowned festivals including Life in Color and I AM Hardwell, One Colony is now crafting an original concept for the first time with Moovment Festival. Checkout onecolony.com.tr for more information about the line-up. Tickets are on sale at biletix.com.
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Babylon Soundgarden, a music festival immersed in the blue green nature of Kilyos, returns for a second round on September 9th. The festival’s line-up features Gordon City, The Drums, Sevdaliza, Kadebostany, Whilk & Misky, Wax Tailor, Hey! Douglas.
For the first time, this year’s Soundgarden mixes excitement with an option to camp for a unique night accompanied by live DJ sets. Featuring a wide range of genres including electronic, disco, soul, funk, rock, grime and hip-hop, Soundgarden attracts a broad audience for a proper farewell to the summer. Visit soundgarden.babylon.com.tr and festival’s Facebook event for more information. Tickets are on sale at mobilet.com.
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Night Out, a night full of musical ventures, hosts latest rising and popular names from Turkey’s alternative music scene. The performances will be on July 6th at Moda Kadıköy, the heart of the city on the Asian side.
The third Night Out of the annual festival will be held by VİTRin, a project of the 24th Istanbul Jazz Festival to showcase artists of Turkey’s contemporary music scene including Ceylan Ertem, Gevende, Son Feci Bisiklet and Jakuzi. More information about the event and Jazz Festival is available at caz.iksv.org. Tickets at biletix.com.
6 types of baklava that will surprise you
First comes a crackling sound of crisp, thin phyllo, and then delicious syrup flows from between the layers. This is the beautiful allure of baklava. Most likely you have tried a classic version, filled with pistachios or walnuts. But there are more variations of this heavenly dessert, and each one offers a different journey to the sweet lands. We have rounded up our favorites below to help you embark on your next baklava journey.
The name kuru (dry) may suggest a lack of moisture. However, it merely has less syrup than the original, and more pistachio. This gives kuru baklava a lighter yet more intense flavor. It also has a longer shelf life, perfect if you want to grab a box on your way home or send someone a gift.
Why not combine two out-of-this-world desserts and make something new and great? Çikolatalı baklava (baklava filled with chocolate) is the modern meeting of these two delicious universes, and should be on your to-try list.
Havuç dilimi baklava
For those who promise themselves just one piece of baklava, go for havuç dilimi baklava (baklava sliced in shape of carrots). The generally larger slices (filled with classic nuts) are incredibly satisfying. It’s also the most popular dessert at the end of a feast at Nusr-et Steakhouse.
Şöbiyet looks like a folded handkerchief and what it hides inside is a delicious surprise, kaymak (clotted cream.) Next time you visit a baklava house, you can cheat on baklava for a little extra kaymak.
Imagine the thinnest layers of baklava phyllo in the shape of şöbiyet mentioned above. Now stuff it with pistachios and cream, until it's close to bursting. Just the thought of it can make your mouth water, right? Picture yourself eating it…
What if we put milk instead of syrup inside baklava? It would be called sütlü Nuriye. One story says this dessert came out during hard times in 80s’ Turkey to cut back on sugar consumption. Since people liked the output, it stuck around.
Get the best baklava in Istanbul
Originally hailing from Gaziantep, Karaköy Güllüoğlu is an institution for baklava. The well-known location in Karaköy serves nearly all kinds mentioned here and is usually packed. They even have gluten free baklava, as well as a sugar free renditions for people those watching their diet. Rıhtım Caddesi No. 3-4, Karaköy; T: (0212) 293 09 10
Located right behind Güllüoğlu in Karaköy, the goods at Köşkeroğlu are sometimes overlooked but are truly exceptional. Make sure to try the baklava in house, as it arrives perfectly on a warm plate. Mumhane Caddesi No. 2/2, Karaköy; T: (0212) 245 52 45
Gaziantepli Baklavacı Bilgeoğlu
If you are on discovery in Kadıköy, make sure to visit this small baklava house right in the middle of the busy market. Their kuru baklava is particularly famous. Muvakkithane Caddesi No.56, Kadıköy; T: (0216) 336 00 49
Joshua Redman, Christian McBride, Kandace Springs and TRT Big Band (Live)
24th Istanbul Jazz Festival will bring together TRT Big Band with bass virtuoso Christian McBride, American jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman accompanied by the captivating vocals of Kandace Springs. The artists will share the main stage of Zorlu PSM on July 11.
TRT Big Band is one of Turkey’s most valued jazz orchestras, conducted by the mastermind, Lifetime Achievement Award winner Kamil Özer. Combining famous names within international jazz communities, the night is one of the festival’s most awaited dates. You can find tickets at biletix.com. More information is on caz.iksv.org.
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Beyond The Memory
Beyond the Memory, will be a reminiscent night of the 24th Jazz Festival on July 8th. The event will pay tribute to legendary flamenco guitarist and composer Paco de Lucía with an all-star performance on the main stage of Zorlu PSM.
The night will join musicians who have collaborated with Paco de Lucia including Jorge Pardo, Carles Benavent, Jose Maria Bandera, Nino Josele and Piraña with David de Jacoba's vocals. Stunning Turkish names Levent Yüksel, who adapted Paco de Lucia’s song Palenque in Tuana, Taksim Trio, and Cenk Erdoğan will accompany the performance. More information is available at caz.iksv.org. Tickets are on sale at biletix.com.
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Taksim Trio (Live)
Taksim Trio, a rising name in world music made up of Hüsnü Şenlendirici, İsmail Tunçbilek and Aytaç Doğan. The trio will perform at Zorlu PSM’s Drama Stage on July 8th in Istanbul Jazz Festival’s ViTRin project.
The local band has gained recognition performing at venues around the world including WOMEX music fair and London Jazz Festival at Queen Elizabeth Hall. Their distinctive compositions are appreciated for their rich harmonies and the enchanting sounds from the clarinet, baghlama and qanun. More information is available at caz.iksv.org. Tickets are available at biletix.com.
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Eskişehir: young at heart
With its name literally translating as “old city”, one would expect the dignity and seriousness of a centuries-old settlement from Eskişehir. However, unlike its name, the city is vigorous and lively, densely populated by young students from the two major local universities, and planned with the young in mind. Ideal for cycling particularly on both banks of the Porsuk River, the city might bring to mind European towns, which obviously had served as inspiration for the city’s development after thousands of migrants from Crimea and the Balkans settled here in the nineteenth century. Those Western influences are first and foremost re ected in the local mindset, but also in the city’s cuisine, culture, and cultivated traditions.
Relying mostly on their student customers, restaurants and bars in Eskişehir are very reasonably priced. The two must-try local foods include çibörek—a deep- fried, crisp pastry with meat filling popularized by the local Crimean Tatars—and Balaban kebab, which might bring to mind another Turkish staple dish, the almighty İskender. Balaban kebab has yogurt and tomato sauce served directly on a slice of pide bread with grilled chunks of meat, unlike İskender, which is a variety of döner kebab.
Eskişehir’s oldest neighborhood, Odunpazarı, is where many local artisans work and reside. The city’s most picturesque quarter, which has turned into a hub of handmade creativity, is a labyrinth of narrow cobblestone streets surrounded by the famous, colorful houses from two centuries ago.
Your head will spin after seeing the array of ateliers and workshops creating anything from carpets to glass, so make sure you do not lose focus—the places you will want to visit in the first place specialize in objects made of lületaşı, or sepiolite. This soft stone is extracted locally in Eskişehir, which produces the most in the world and makes excellent material for decorative objects, accessories such as rings and bracelets, and last but not least, high-quality meerschaum tobacco pipes. Artisans place the raw stone in water in order to soften it to facilitate further sculpting. Once the design is complete and dry, the stone objects lose most of their weight, becoming very light and ideal for everyday use. If you would like to learn more about it, visit the local sepiolite museum: Eskişehir Lületaşı Muzesi, İki Eylül Caddesi, Odunpazarı; T: (0222) 233 05 82.
Social life in Eskişehir revolves around the Porsuk River. This is where to go for a stroll, meet with friends, or enjoy a Saturday afternoon coffee. The river also makes the city easy to navigate, passing near all the major sightseeing locations. During warm months, you can hop on one of the gondolas that offer rides along the river to explore the city from a different perspective. In winter, when the city is usually covered with blankets of snow, thermal hammams along Hamamyolu Caddesi provide a warm alternative to outdoor activities. Whichever season you prefer, Eskişehir will make you feel welcome and provide enough entertainment to ll a weekend away from home.
Where to stay
Divan Express Eskişehir is conveniently located halfway between the train station and the city center and is within walking distance from the local Özdilek shopping mall and Acıbadem hospital. Often preferred by business travelers, the hotel offers comfortable accommodations for short- and long-term stays. For more info visit www.divan. com.tr/divan-express-eskisehir
For those who like a bit of history in their travel, Porsuk Thermal Boutique Hotel, one of the city’s finest examples of architecture from the early Republican period, is the place to go. Its hammam is connected to one of the many local thermal springs, pouring minerally enhanced hot water directly into the facility. www.porsukotel.com
Eskişehir to-do list
- Walk along the Porsuk River and enjoy a cup of your favorite beverage at one of the riverfront cafes.
- Bathe at one of the thermal hammams on Hamamyolu Caddesi.
- Try crispy çibörek at Kırım Tatar Çibörek Evi, Şeyh Şemsettin Sokak No.15/1, Odunpazarı, Eskişehir; T: (0222) 220 65 10.
- Do not leave without the perfect photo of the colorful, old buildings in the Odunpazarı neighborhood for your Instagram account.
- Decorative objects made from lületaşı make the best souvenirs. Since the stone is easy to sculpt, it makes the ideal material for practicing the craft at home, too.
How to get there
With the high-speed train service, getting to Eskişehir from Istanbul has never been easier. Trains depart from Pendik three times a day on the comfortable, two-and-a- half-hour journey. For more info visit yolcu.tcdd.gov.tr. Although there are no direct flights to Eskişehir, nearby airports in Ankara and Konya provide convenient connections to and from Istanbul.
If you travel to Eskişehir by car, you will definitely want to leave it somewhere central and explore the city on foot. Espark is a large shopping center located in the heart of the city and is open until late. Most of the key locations in the city center are a mere five- to 20-minute walk away. If walking is out of the question, simply take the tram, which connects all the key locations.
The 400-year march of Istanbul's cymbals: Istanbul Mehmet
One of the Psalms, composed over 2,500 years ago, says, “Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.” This splashing, crashing percussion has been making noise since the Bronze Age, as seen in stone carvings from ancient Anatolia to Egypt and Greece. But the cymbals we know today all stem from the workshop of one man, an Ottoman Armenian named Avedis, in 1623. Having moved from Trabzon to Istanbul that year, Avedis perfected a new cymbal-making formula and won the official title of Zildjian, meaning “son of the cymbal maker”. Europeans first heard these cymbals in the Ottoman mehter military bands, and composers such as Mozart incorporated them into their compositions. This legacy of Ottoman craftsmanship continues today at the Istanbul Mehmet factory, run by an old apprentice of the Zildjian family, Mehmet Tamdeğer.
Speaking at the factory in the Istanbul district of Esenyurt, Tamdeğer recalls, “I started at the Zildjian factory in 1950, and worked there up until 1978. In that time I learned everything about the production, pressing and turning alongside Mikael Zildjian. After the factory closed, naturally, we thought about what we could do. Starting out making new cymbals was quite hard in Turkey. The Zildjian factory had a history of 300 years behind it, so it took a lot of courage to start again. But going step by step with my partner, Agop Tomurcuk, we started a workshop and grew from there. When Agop passed away, I left to start my own business, Istanbul Mehmet. I’ve been doing my own manufacturing for about 20 years.”
The 1920s saw most of the Zildjian family move to America, where they continue making cymbals to this day. But while that factory now relies more heavily on machines, Istanbul Mehmet preserves the traditional, labor-intensive techniques that Tamdeğer learned from his master, Mikael Zildjian.
“A lot of people come here looking to make cymbals, wondering whether they can do it themselves. Not everyone shows their process, but I do. I’m not scared. Because the cymbals are handmade, it’s like an artist’s painting. Even if you want to make the same cymbal, you can’t. And the sound is completely different from a machine-made cymbal,” Tamdeğer explains.
A visit to the factory is like stepping into the seventeenth century when this loud tale began: the furnace used to heat the cymbals is like a giant pizza oven and the workers beat the metal with small hammers by hand. “I don’t add anything else to what I learned in Istanbul,” Tamdeğer says. “In fact, we still use a wood-burning oven, not electric. It’s like the difference between using an electric barbecue and a charcoal barbecue—there are some tricks to this trade.”
That integrity has paid off for Tamdeğer, with jazz icons such as Art Blakey and Jack DeJohnette taking his handmade cymbals to the US. Despite its boutique methods, the company has become a global enterprise. “We export to around 100 countries. People have come to visit us from around 160 countries. Everyone’s very curious about how the cymbals are made by hand. Our factory has become a kind of place of pilgrimage,” he says.
Asked whether he ever tires of the cacophony, Tamdeğer replies, “I’ve been in this business for 67 years, from the age of 10 to 77. This cymbal production keeps me alive. That’s how much I love my work. It doesn’t stop even when I sleep—I’m thinking about the next day, what kind of new cymbals we’re going to make. If I were born again, I’d do the same thing.” With three sons who are drummers and trained in the family business, it seems that Tamdeğer’s legacy and the sound of Istanbul Mehmet will continue for many years to come.
Find out more about Istanbul Mehmet’s products at www.istanbulmehmet.com
Abstraction a la Turca: Fahrelnissa Zeid at Tate Modern
Despite her acclaimed exhibitions across Europe and the US in the 1950s and 1960s, Turkish artist Fahrelnissa Zeid’s name has been heard more at auction houses than at galleries in recent years—she became the Middle East’s highest- selling artist with a $2,741,000-sale at Christie’s Dubai in 2013. We can thank Tate Modern for returning her to the spotlight with the artist’s first UK retrospective.
Born into a notable Ottoman family, Zeid’s relatives included soldiers, diplomats, and a grand vizier. She went on to study painting in Paris after graduating as one of the first female students at Istanbul’s Academy of Fine Arts.
The Tate Modern exhibition begins with Zeid’s movement from expressionism toward abstraction in the 1940s and 1950s, when she moved from Istanbul to London with her second husband, Prince Zeid Bin al-Hussein of Iraq. Zeid produced her most recognizable abstract works in the 1960s, which also bear similarities to op-art. Her husband’s death in 1970 sparked a return to figurative painting, mostly portraits of aristocratic friends in Jordan, where she died in 1991. Throughout the stages of her career and the genres in which she worked, Zeid’s pieces express a modern fusion of European, Byzantine, and Middle Eastern influences. Her abstract patterns recall both Byzantine mosaics and Islamic, geometric patterns, energized by a twentieth-century rejection of symmetry. Some of her giant canvasses— five-meters wide or more—produce a fractal-like effect by placing various-sized patterns in different areas. This shift in scale also gives an impression of dizzying depth. Other works from her abstract period embody a misted, textured light, as though watching the Bosphorus through steamed glass.
As one of Turkey’s most respected artists, Zeid’s work is on display in several private collections in Istanbul, including Istanbul Modern, Elgiz Museum, and Bozlu Art Project. The Galerist exibition Dark Deep Darkness also includes work by Zeid.
The Tate Modern exhibition runs from June 13–October 8.
Why 5th Position’s swimwear designs are not for posers
Buse Uğur started 5th Position two years ago when, as a professional dancer, she got fed up with the lack of elegant women’s swimwear and used her leotards instead. When she met industrial product designer and model Ezgi Bozkurt, it seems she found her creative soulmate. The two can be credited with creating swimwear that’s ideal for the modern woman – a woman who doesn’t want to be embellished, but who wants to run, swim, play, and look enchanting all at the same time.
“It was so simple,” Buse told The Guide Istanbul of her first collection. “Just six models.” Bozkurt was hooked: “I used that swimsuit the whole summer. It was the thing I was looking for but could not find.” Bozkurt’s background in industrial design and interior architecture lent itself well to Uğur’s vision, and gives the swimsuits their structured practicality and durable quality, with two layers of thick fabric. They had their first runway show in March 2015, just four months after starting work together.
“Everything was with a lot of accessories, I couldn’t find anything simple. And everybody liked [our designs],” says Uğur. “People miss simple stuff.” It seems that many women in Turkey and beyond agree. The brand is now stocked locally and in stores in Sydney and New York. Perhaps the appeal lies in the absolute simplicity of both concept and execution.
The design is reminiscent of Uğur’s love of dance, too: the name 5th Position comes from the most sophisticated ballet starting foot arrangement, the one all little girls who dance aspire to. One of this season’s bikini tops bears the name of Margot Fonteyn, the legendary ballet dancer. Characters like Fonteyn also embody the other of 5th Position’s principles: elegant sexiness in the form of a very feminine silhouette. “The main inspiration is still ballet and dancing,” says Bozkurt. “But inspiration also really comes from the women. We’re obsessed with designing things that you can wear while you are doing something, while you are active. We are not designing swimwear for sunbathing – it’s for people who live, not for any of those posers.”
Find 5th Position at Souq Karaköy, Mae Zae, Shopi Go, and Vakkorama, or online at www.5thpositionstore.com
Losing heat: the culinary art behind raw food
Dr. Sana S. Hećo is a walking poster child for her raw food profession. She glows with good health that seems to radiate from somewhere deep inside and her constant talk about nutrition is punctuated only by a slight, beatific smile that seems to say “it’s all good.” With the launch of her first self-published raw cookbook, Orient Expressed, in Istanbul, the Bosnian-Swedish medical doctor, naturopath, and raw food chef pays homage to and reimagines Levantine cuisine, from which she has drawn so much inspiration on her journey.
From pills to chia seeds
The road to raw food was a long one for Hećo, who originally worked and trained as a medical doctor in Sweden. During this time, she was experiencing chronic health issues that even surgery, hormonal therapy, and painkillers, could not cure. “I looked like a 100-year-old,” Hećo says. “I was desperate.” After listening to a podcast by an American naturopath that her sister sent, she felt new pieces fall into place “For me, the medical world is very two dimensional at best. It never felt right to me,” Hećo says. “Any type of bodily discomfort is a blessing in disguise because your body is trying to tell you something. It’s saying please treat me in a natural way. Your body never turns against you, it’s just trying to get your attention.”
Hećo’s first experience with raw food came soon after she moved to London to study naturopathic medicine. A friend brought her raw chocolate, and the taste was a moving experience. “I took a bite of that chocolate and I had an out-of-body experience. This is what food is supposed to be,” Hećo asserts. “This is the potential of food.” Back then, raw food was an alien concept and Hećo had to do a lot of research. She even took a few years off, moved to California, and began training at a culinary institute in Santa Monica where she learned some of the more subtle arts of creating elevated dishes. Today, she works as a consultant, teaches raw food workshops, and helps food and beverage operations, such as Atelier Raw in Istanbul, develop menus and recipes.
Hećo acknowledges that raw food still feels inaccessible to many people, especially home cooks, and is sometimes glossed over as a fad. Many diners feel like they pay too much for something that does not taste very good, and that the equipment associated with raw food—dehydrators, Vitamix blenders, and the like—is expensive and intimidating. However, Hećo says you can skip the crazy equipment and start simple with the food that is right for you. The recipes in her book reflect this philosophy, with dishes that range from simple to extraordinarily complex as well as a breakdown of different ingredients, their health benefits, and how to use them.
“Raw food is anything. It’s about what your body needs, simple as that,” she says. “Just become more excited about your food, about its history, and biology. You don’t want anything lower than life and appreciation in your body. My whole message, raw food or not, is to just bring more awareness to what you’re doing and eating. It’s a game changer.”
Turkey has always been a deep well of inspiration. Hećo first came to Istanbul to help Atelier Raw develop recipes for the launch of its raw food concept, and the city helped to fuel her cookbook. Even before she arrived, however, Hećo has always felt a connection to Turkey. “When I was training at culinary school in California, I found myself recreating oriental dishes,” she says. “Obviously, I’m not from the Orient, but I am from the Orient of Europe. Sarajevo is a mini Istanbul. There are so many things we share with this whole region—North Africa, West Asia, the Balkans, Iran—we’re all connected because the Ottoman Empire ruled. When I got home from California, I began to work in earnest to recreate this cuisine.”
Her new, beautifully photographed cookbook was launched in Istanbul this spring as a small tribute to the place this city has played in her life and heart. “I chose to have the book premier in Istanbul because Istanbul has been experiencing some harsh times. It’s rough, people are losing hope,” she says. “I come from Bosnia. I’ve been through war. I know when fear sets in, you forget the things that really matter. Turkey helped Bosnia a lot after the war, and I have always been grateful. So, I wanted to bring something that is such a love project to the region, bring it back to Istanbul, and pay my own small form of tribute.”
Orient Expressed is available at Minoa Bookstore, Souq Dükkan, and Atelier Raw—where you’ll also find snacks designed by Dr. Sana Hećo. For more information and for a digital copy of the cookbook, visit suhailpublishing.com.
The voice of the Aegean: Vassiliki Papageorgiou
The 1923 population exchange between Turkey and Greece was a defining moment for both countries, with around 2 million people relocated to new lands over the border. Although many people traveled with what little they could carry, they did not leave their memories behind.
In Greece, their grandchildren have led a rediscovery of Greek- Anatolian music, and some have returned to Turkey to dig deeper into its cosmopolitan sounds. One of these grandchildren is Athens-born and Istanbul-based singer Vassiliki Papageorgiou.
Papageorgiou first visited Istanbul with the musicians from the Costas Ferris film Rembetiko (1983). This film did much to spark a resurgence of interest in the rembetiko style, which originated in late-nineteenth century İzmir and Athens.
“It was 1983 when I came the first time,” Papageorgiou told The Guide Istanbul. “I remember when we first entered to have our first rehearsal when we came from Athens, Sezen Aksu was having her rehearsal at the place. It was a big success, because at the time Istanbul wasn’t like now, when you can hear other languages. At that time, Turkey was still quite closed. It was the first time that a rembetiko group came from Greece, so it was full every night with Turkish people, Rum [Greek] people. We came for three weeks and stayed three months.”
After this positive reception, Papageorgiou decided to discover more of Turkey’s traditional music. Her meeting with Istanbul-based Greek musician Nikiforos Metaxas was a pivotal moment. “I met him when I came here and we started working together, forming new groups with Greeks and Turks. We played traditional music, but also composed our own music based on that, and I started writing lyrics. We also became a couple and moved to Heybeliada, where we lived until very recently when he passed away,” she explains. Metaxas’ research on the minority Rum, Armenian, and Jewish composers of the Ottoman Empire led to a new enthusiasm for this music across the Aegean. As the singer says, “Since then, a lot of people have become interested in this and traditional music. The kanun was fading in Greece at the time, but through Nikiforos and the group Bosphorus, we have so many people playing it now.”
For Papageorgiou, Istanbul had a special resonance, like meeting a long-lost relative who remembers you as a child. “Istanbul is an incredibly inspiring place. You can have a lot of experiences here because everything is changing. When I first came,
I used to walk a lot in old Istanbul along the city walls. Being Greek, you come home when you come to Istanbul. Of course, it’s Turkish and all that, but it contains so much of our history as well.”
The Greek population of Istanbul has steadily declined since the 1920s, but the bonds of memory are still intact. “I remember so many times saying to Turkish friends, ‘I’m a foreigner.’ And they say, ‘No, you’re from here.’ Of course, in older times it was easier because people had a lot of Rum friends and they were brought up together. Now I’m not sure that the young people even know there were Rum here. But I think we shouldn’t lose our common memory and history. These things bring our souls together. If we keep our memory alive then we realize how precious it is to be together, to share, to defend this.”
With a background in translating poets such as Rilke into Greek, Papageorgiou also translates the Turkish lyrics of her songs into Greek for her album sleeves. She and her husband Nikiforos Metaxas had worked to create a center for Byzantine, Greek,
and Ottoman music at the old Greek school on Heybeliada with the support of the Greek and Turkish governments, but the project fell through following the Greek financial crisis. When asked whether the center could be revived, she says simply, “İnşallah.” Meanwhile, she continues to work with master musicians such as kemençe player Derya Türkan, clarinetist Oğuz Büyükberber, and ancient lyrist Aliki Markantonatou.
Stay up to date with new album releases and other news at www.vassilikipapageorgiou.net
The lights of Ramadan: Istanbul’s mahya tradition
Visiting Istanbul in 1854, French writer Theophile Gautier described an incredible sight from his hotel in Beyoğlu: “On the other side of the Golden Horn, Constantinople glows and sparkles, like the crown of carbuncles of an oriental emperor. The minarets blaze with rows of lamps from all their galleries; and from spire to spire run, in fiery letters, verses of the Kuran, written upon the azure as on the pages of a Divine book.” Gautier was describing the mahya lights, a Ramadan tradition that originated in Ottoman Istanbul.
The word mahya derives from the Persian māhī, meaning “monthly”, in reference to the holiest month of the Islamic calendar. There is no definite proof of when this practice began, but German traveler Salomon Schweigger described words and pictures formed with lights strung between a mosque’s minarets in the sixteenth century. Aside from giving a religious message, the mahya lamps also illuminated the streets for the people eating and socializing after iftar. Words from the Quran and Hadith, names of God, and phrases such as “Welcome Ramadan” were common, as well as figures such as flowers, fountains, and crescent moons. These images had to be planned to suit the height of the minarets and the distance between them—for example, only a large mosque such as Beyazıt Mosque could hold a phrase such as re’sü’l-hikmeti mehâfetullâh in one line.
Nowadays it is quite easy to create moving mahya, because the mosques use LED lights. But the mahya masters of the Ottoman period had to be more skillful. One example was the “walking mahya”, where men would pull the ropes supporting the hanging lamps to make them go back and forth. In the 1870s, muezzin Abdüllâtif Efendi created a mahya carriage above Süleymaniye Mosque, with another line of boats and fish underneath. By pulling the ropes, he made the figures move like a fiery film. So keep your eyes on the skies this Ramadan, you never know what you might see.
Top 7 non-fiction books to take with you to Istanbul
The large number of books available on Istanbul makes it hard to separate the dry from the inspiring. These recommended books will show you why Istanbul deserves its place in the pantheon of great cities.
Istanbul: A Tale of Three Cities
The product of a decade’s research, British historian Hughes’ book spans 8,000 years of history in Istanbul, from the earliest ruins discovered in the Yenikapı excavations on to the Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans and present day. This account manages to be comprehensive, detailed, and readable at the same time.
Istanbul: Memories and the City
More than just a memoir, this book introduces us to Istanbul artists, writers, neighborhoods, and lifestyles through the prism of Pamuk’s early life. No guided tour could possibly be as personal or immersive as this. It is also invaluable for understanding the melancholy atmosphere and romantic obsessions of Pamuk’s novels.
Constantinople: City of the World’s Desire
British historian Mansel’s book takes a thematic approach to the city, talking as fluently about culture and religion as it does about battles and sultans. Mansel has a talent for picking out intriguing characters who flit between European and Asian roles, as well as for recounting real incidents that are stranger than fiction.
An Istanbul Anthology: Travel Writing Through the Centuries
Edited by Turkish writer and journalist Kaya Genç, the selections in this book illustrate the many perspectives and personalities that foreign visitors have brought to the city. Accounts by Arthur Conan Doyle, Andre Gide, Gustave Flaubert, and Ernest Hemingway demonstrate the outside eye’s eternal fascination with Istanbul.
Stamboul Sketches: Encounters in Old Istanbul
American travel writer and historian Freely is better known for his lengthy tomes, but this book takes a shorter and more eccentric approach. Subjects include Istanbul’s street cats, wandering dervishes and folk singers, the seasonal winds, city markets, cemeteries, and the lunar calendar.
M. Şükrü Hanioğlu
Atatürk: An Intellectual Biography
Although his face looks out from a million portraits in Istanbul, not everyone agrees on what Mustafa Kemal Atatürk actually symbolizes. In this book, Princeton University academic Hanioğlu traces the origins of Atatürk’s thought from the late- Ottoman era to the new Republic of Turkey, showing how political, social, and philosophical trends have shaped debates that are still current today.
Murat Gül and Trevor Howells
Once you look past the simple binaries of Greek-Turkish or ancient-modern, there is a multiplicity of architectural styles on display in Istanbul. Gül and Howells cover all the major structures of Istanbul area by area, from the historical peninsula to the Asian side and the northern shores of the Bosphorus. With this book in hand, you will see the marvelous fusion of influences that make up every street.
Güllaç: the rosy dessert of Ramadan tables
Ramadan in Turkey sees the arrival of a few annual traditions: drums beating out the wake up call for sahur, dates to break fasting, shadow plays and the simple dessert güllaç after a large iftar dinner. Güllaç is almost never found anywhere in Turkey throughout the rest of the year, but in Ramadan it is even more popular than baklava.
As with other Turkish desserts, yufka (phyllo pastry) is the main ingredient in güllaç. The thin layers are white because the main ingredient is cornstarch, unlike the golden color baklava has. Dry and paper-thin, this type of dough was first made in the Ottoman era as a way to preserve food for long periods. Before people would turn this type of food into a meal—what would they call aş (food) in general—they would soften the dough with milk and add sugar to it
This dish later had rose water and various nuts added to it to improve the taste. Because of the added rose water, the name of the dessert changed to güllü aş (literally, food with rose.) In time, the name evolved into one word, güllaç—just like sütlaç.
There are pistachios and hazelnuts in between the center layers of güllaç. Pistachios are also sprinkled on the top of the dessert as a garnish. Other garnishes vary according to the season in which Ramadan falls. A cherry on top or pomegranate seeds are often also used as an embellishment.
After a long day of fasting, the iftar dinner is usually a rich feast and stomachs fill up quickly—often going a little overboard. After such a meal, for dessert people seek something light that will not upset the stomach. In this case, güllaç is an ideal option. Unlike baklava or other syrupy Turkish desserts, güllaç is light due to being milk based.
Take it home
Güllaç is a very easy dessert to make at home. You can either prepare the phyllo with cornstarch and flour in a pan and dry it or you can buy it at a supermarket in Istanbul during Ramadan. These dry doughs can be stored up to two years in the proper conditions.
For every 10 layers of phyllo dough, use one and a half liters of milk. Add two to six cups of sugar to taste. Add an optional half cup of rose water to the mix, which you will later pour over the layers of dough. Do not forget to put your favorite nuts in between the layers. Sprinkle some pistachios and seasonal fruit of your choice to dress the dessert.
Where to have güllaç during Ramadan
This restaurant at Çırağan Hotel serves renditions of Turkish and Ottoman cuisine. The Ottoman-style interiors complement the food and dining on the terrace, overlooking the Bosphorus is an unmatched joy in the summer. Çırağan Caddesi No.32, Beşiktaş; T: (0212) 326 46 46
Known for offering the best baklava in town, Karaköy Güllüoğlu is your go-to place to try güllaç or take a box, or even a tray, with you. Do not forget to try a few piece or two, or five, of their myriad baklava while there. Rıhtım Caddesi, No.3-4, Karaköy; T: (0212) 293 09 10
Son Feci Bisiklet
Alternative group Son Feci Bisiklet will be giving a concert as part of the Lokalize series at Zorlu PSM on June 16 with doors opening at 8:30pm. Having hit the scene four years ago and subsequently releasing their first EP, the Ankara-based group is known for their energetic live performances. Tickets available at biletix.com.
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Asena Akan Quintet
The Asena Akan Quintet will perform at Akbank Sanat on June 7 at 8pm. Accomplished vocalist Akan, Senova Ülker on trumpet, Tolga Bedir on keyboard, bassist Volkan Hürsever, and drummer Riccardo Marenghi will perform songs from their albums İstanbul’un İzleri (Traces of Istanbul) and Golden Heart as well as favorites from Brazilian jazz
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Contemporary Vocal Days: Barbershop Istanbul
Akbank Sanat presents Istanbul Barbershop, Turkey first barbershop quartet as part of its Contemporary Vocal Days concert series on May 30 at 8pm. Kaan Bayır, Erdinç Hasılcıoğulları, Onur Zorluuysal, and Enis Turhan have brought the uniquely American a capella genre with its roots in the late nineteenth century to Turkey.
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Büyük Ev Ablukada
As part of the Lokalize series, Büyük Ev Ablukada will be performing two acoustic shows of the concert series, Ay Şuram Ağrıyo (Oh it Hurts Here) at Zorlu PSM on May 27, one at 4pm and one at 6pm. Büyük Ev Ablukada always promises colorful live performances with audience interaction and various other surprises. Tickets available at biletix.com.
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Recent Latin American Cinema: El Premio
Peruvian director Alberto Duran’s 2009 film, El Premio (The Prize) will be screened at Akbank Sanat on May 27 at 3pm. The film focuses on Antonio, who wins the lottery and travels to Lima to collect his winnings and see his son Alex, whom he has not seen in 10 years. Events unfold that will change the lives of all those involved. Admission is free of charge and invitations will be distributed at the information desk starting at 2pm until capacity is reached.
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Souq Dükkan is holding a shopping festival to prepare for summer at its store in Kanyon shopping center starting on May 25 at 11:30am and running until May 26 at 8pm. Souq is celebrating its fourth year by offering everything you need for summer: bikinis and bathing suits, sandals, t-shirts, and accessories from carefully selected brands and designers all under one roof.
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Royal Opera House screening: Jewels
A screening of the Royal Ballet’s performance of acclaimed American choreographer George Balanchine’s Jewels at the Royal Opera House will be held at Zorlu PSM on May 26 at 7pm, commemorating its 50th year. Each part of the three-act, abstract ballet—the first of its kind—is inspired by a different gemstone and set to music by different composers. The first act, Emeralds, it set to music by Fuaré, the second, Rubies, is set to Stravinsky’s Capriccio, and the final act, Diamonds, is set to Tchaikovsky’s Third Symphony. Tickets available at biletix.com.
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Panel: Save As
SALT Research Architecture and Design Archive will be holding a series of talks, “Save As: Archiving Born-Digital Architectural Materials”, on the management of born-digital content at the SALT Galata Auditorium starting on May 24. The panelists: Suzanne Mulder, Annet Dekker, and Jan Knikker will speak on the issues and what needs to be done concerning the acquisition and management of the born-digital architecture collection as well as collaboration between those involved. Program begins at 7pm.
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7 'unusual' performances you shouldn't miss at the 45th Istanbul Music Festival
The Istanbul Music Festival is hosting its 45 year of classical concerts this year from May 29–June 21. Marking a high point in the city’s cultural calendar, the festival continues to bring world-class names to Istanbul as well as showcase the finest performers from Turkey. The theme of this year’s festival is “Unusual”, an apt adjective for this year’s venues: from the old Bomonti brewery to an Armenian church, the Galata Mevlevihane to the Süreyya Opera House, and Hagia Eirene Museum to Sait Halim Paşa Mansion. Here are some of the extraordinary artists that will be filling those venues with the sound of their music.
Mikhail Rudy – The Sound of Colours: Kandinsky & Chagall
Considered one of the top pianists worldwide, Mikhail Rudy has worked with renowned conductors such as Herbert von Karajan and Lorin Maazel. As well as producing over 30 recordings that have won many international awards, Rudy also engages with the visual arts in his music. His film based on the Kandinsky staging of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition has been screened around the world, and he has collaborated with stop-motion filmmakers the Quay Brothers. His Istanbul Music Festival concert features his multimedia performances with animation and music combining into a synesthetic whole.
London Chamber Orchestra & Alina Pogostkina
In this concert at Hagia Eirene Museum, Britain’s oldest professional chamber orchestra meets a young Russian violin star. Alina Pogostkina won the Sibelius Competition in 2005, and has previously performed with the BBC Philharmonic. The London Chamber Orchestra has an impressive list of premieres to its name from Stravinsky to Prokofiev. Together, the orchestra and the soloist will be performing an entire concert of Beethoven.
This concert in the garden of the Galata Mevlevihane is a meeting of a kemençe and a kemanche, the Istanbul type and the Persian type, respectively. Derya Türkan and Sokratis Sinopoulos represent Istanbul while Kayhan Kalhor and Ali Bahrami Fard represent Iran. Each of these musicians is a master in their own right, making this congregation a thrilling event for lovers of Turkish and Persian classical musics.
From 9am–5pm, guests at this event will go on a journey through time, space, and sound in Yeniköy, a picturesque neighborhood on the European Bosphorus shore. The day begins with a talk by historian Mert Taner on Yeniköy’s churches and the iconic Sait Halim Paşa Mansion. Then throughout the day, different concerts take place at an Armenian church, Sait Halim Paşa Mansion, two Greek churches, and the Austrian Cultural Center.
Şimdi Ensemble – Eternal Love
Şimdi Ensemble is a group of virtuoso musicians who give contemporary interpretations to Sufi music and hymns and also compose their own songs inspired by this tradition. Turkish harpist Şirin Pancaroğlu and Roma darbuka maestro Hamdi Akatay are two of the stars of this ensemble, which will be playing in the atmospheric setting of the Grand Bazaar.
Philip Glass – 11th Symphony premiere
The festival co-commissioned leading contemporary composer Philip Glass’ 11th Symphony, which premiered at New York’s Carnegie Hall. This symphony has an emphasis on percussion as well as large parts for the tuba, and continues the composer’s work with tonal music.
Vienna Chamber Orchestra & Fazıl Say
The festival’s closing concert pairs celebrated Turkish pianist Fazıl Say with the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, which has hosted Yehudi Menuhin as a guest conductor. The concert program draws on three icons of classical music: Beethoven, Mozart, and Mendelssohn.
How the works of Mozart meet the Roma
The Aegean port of İzmir is one of the most prosperous and developed cities in Turkey. But İzmir’s Tepecik neighborhood has a different story – this mainly Roma district is better known for poverty and crime. Hamdi Akatay, a Roma percussionist from Tepecik, is trying to offer something more hopeful to the youth, with a unique project: the Tepecik Philharmonic. Even more extraordinary, these young musicians combine Roma music with the works of Mozart.
“One of the aims of this project is to protect young people from these evils through music,” Akatay says. “I spent my youth in Tepecik, and if I hadn’t started playing the darbuka then I might have been dealing drugs on the corner. I think music is a very therapeutic path.”
Akatay, having performed with famous names such as Tarkan, Sezen Aksu, and the Berlin Philharmonic, is a role model for the neighborhood. He is also the author of Universal Darbuka Method, the first handbook for Turkish rhythms on the darbuka. Akatay’s musicians are all classically trained, but it was not so easy for the folk of Tepecik to understand his project. “Being a Roma neighborhood, most people in Tepecik listen to arabesque or folk music,” said Akatay. “When we started rehearsing Mozart in the coffee house garden, local guys came and gave us strange looks. Later on they felt that soothing quality, the way Mozart transports you to another world, and they started sitting and listening with their tea. Of course, when we played medleys of Mozart and local music, people liked it even more.”
Perhaps the first question in listeners’ minds is, why Mozart? Classical aficionados will know Mozart’s “Rondo alla Turca,” which took inspiration from Turkish music. Orchestral instruments such as the bass drum, cymbals, and even the oboe came to Europe from the Middle East. Given that history, a Roma percussionist playing Mozart might be more natural than we imagine. “If he had been alive today, I think Mozart would have wanted to play with us,” Akatay told The Guide Istanbul. “In future we could extend this project to Bach, Tchaikovsky, or Beethoven. This is a long-term project – it might even last for centuries.”
The Tepecik Philharmonic is beginning work on its first album this year. Akatay’s dream is to perform his interpretations in Salzburg, the town where Mozart was born. His passion for the orchestra is clear: he says of his work, “There are two legacies I’m going to leave behind for my children and grandchildren: my darbuka method and the Tepecik Philharmonic.”
For news and concerts, follow Hamdi Akatay on Facebook.
Animatronic exhibition brings new perspective on modern Turkish society
Issues of identity and belonging are never far from the surface in Turkey, and have become one of the main themes for many contemporary artists. Serra Behar’s first solo show, To Remember, engages with society, personal history, and religion through 17 years of her work. Due to Behar’s training in fine arts, costumery, puppetry, and stage design, the theatrical aspects of group identity take center stage.
Behar’s issues with identity began at an early age as someone whose religious background did not fit the norm in Turkey. That in turn opened her eyes to the other categorizations that are common in this society. “Being Jewish in Turkey, you don’t belong to that community, but you also don’t belong anywhere,” she told The Guide Istanbul. “When you go abroad, they call you Turkish, so you don’t belong to them. When you come back here, they call you Jewish. Then they say, this is your team, Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe. There are tags everywhere. You’re an artist. You’re so apolitical. If you’re not left wing then you’re not one of us. That’s how I was raised, not by my family, who are very open-minded, but by the minds of everyone surrounding us.”
Looking at her personal experiences in the light of society, each of Behar’s works reflects a different stage in her life. “I’m not an artist of one subject. I work with the materials that help me express what I want to say at that particular time. It’s a way of trying to understand me actually, a kind of diary,” she says. The exhibition’s centerpiece is a wearable sculpture called Embryo/Belonging. Being able to enter the embryo sculpture, putting it on like a second skin, allows the artist to regress back to the first identity that she considers natural, rather than social or political.
Behar began her artistic training at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, an environment that personally she found toxic to her creativity. “I didn’t have any self esteem at the university because they put pressure on you and say you’re nothing. You feel so ordinary and miserable. The academics are like gods, and you just think, I hope he likes it. You’re always in front of a jury, like a Miss America stage. But you’re naked with your art, and they’re judging you. In that way you lose your self-esteem more and more,” she explains. The person who convinced her to finish her training there was Saim Bugay, a respected Turkish sculptor and puppet-maker.
Behar was temporarily freed from the labels and hierarchy that she had experienced in Turkey when she traveled to the UK on the Erasmus program. This freedom informed her work Paradise Bird, an animatronic sculpture that is trying to break away from the cables and wires that tie it to the ground.
“In Turkey, they tell you that you can’t be an artist until a certain age, or after a few exhibitions, or after your first solo show, or after working with a famous artist. But when I went to the UK, there were 18-year-old kids saying hey, I’m an artist. I was very excited by the joy that they felt in calling themselves artists. So I said, yeah, I’m an artist too, and I’ll produce more,’” she recalls.
Later on, Behar’s soul-searching led her to investigate various spiritual and self-development courses. Her cynicism about the financial motives of these courses informed her work Self-Deception. The leather angel on top of the box reaches up to heaven, but the coin-operated mechanism only gives it a slight lift, and the coin drops on the floor.
The work Organ Inc. grew out of the artist’s interest and concern in factory farming and genetic engineering. Behar created fliers for a fictitious company, Organ Inc., that grows replacement human organs in the bodies of pigs. Her motive was to show that despite our talk of animal rights, most people would accept such an organ to save themselves or a loved one. The sculpture’s skeleton is made from a mixture of real animal bones, such as cow, sheep, and chicken. Three leather hearts pump with animatronic motion while oinking sounds emanate from a hidden speaker. At the time of making the sculpture, this kind of organ production was not a real phenomenon, but as Behar explains, “About two or three years later, I saw in a magazine that they were actually growing human organs in pigs.” To Remember is on display at Adahan İstanbul from May 23–June 20.
How to have the ultimate Istanbul experience during Turkish Airlines Euroleague
Bringing Europe’s best basketball teams together, Turkish Airlines EuroLeague finals are in Istanbul this year. The final games between the best four teams in the Final Four are in Istanbul for the second time after five years. Istanbul-based Turkish teams Darüşşafaka Doğuş, Fenerbahçe, and Anadolu Efes are among the final eight teams that competed for a spot in the Final Four, which take place from May 19–21.
From their first impressions of Istanbul to their favorite restaurants in the city right now, we got to know the non-Turkish players on three of the Istanbul-based teams and learned their tips for first-timers to the city. This is Anadolu Efes’ Alex Kirk’s first year in Istanbul and he is amazed by the culture around him. “It’s a different culture from New Mexico, where I grew up, and China and Italy,” where he has been lately. Fenerbahçe’s Luigi Datome had some problems with Turkish at the beginning, yet he is astonished by the visual smorgasbord Istanbul offers, saying that the “landscapes are breathtaking” and that he “fell in love with the city at first sight.”
With much of their time taken up by the busy schedules of the Turkish Basketball League and Euroleague, the players do not get a lot of free time, but when they do they eat out and explore the city. “I go to Galata and Kadıköy to explore new places, have a cup of coffee in Karaköy, and walk in the streets,” Datome says of his free days. The players also seem to be caught up with the SaltBae sensation as well. Both Datome and Darüşşafaka Doğuş’s Scottie Wilbekin’s favorite restaurant is Nusr-et.
Istanbul through players’ eyes
Now that Kirk, Datome, and Wilbekin are living in Istanbul, it is their chance to show first-comers around the city. Kirk’s parents were in town a couple of weeks ago. He told the Guide Istanbul, “The first thing we did was to take a tram through the city.” Starting out from Kabataş and going through the Old City, the tram is a good and fast way to start exploring the city. “Getting on the water and seeing the city from the water” opens up another window through the city as well. Datome also recommends first-timers to the city visit the Old City and Sultanahmet, Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque and the Balat neighborhood. He also suggests “tasting the Istanbul food.” Wilbekin, on the other hand, says first-timers should “visit Nusr-et to see SaltBae.”
Alex Kirk’s favorite landmark: Grand Bazaar
Alex Kirk’s favorite outdoor space to workout: Bebek
Luigi Datome’s favorite neighborhoods: Karaköy and Balat
Luigi Datome’s favorite landmark: Bosphorus Bridge
Scottie Wilbekin’s favorite restaurant: Nusr-et
Fenerbahçe’s time to shine
Out of three Istanbul teams, Fenerbahçe qualified to be in the Final Four. Fenerbahçe’s Datome is thrilled for “the opportunity to play against all these teams and for the long journey until the Final Four.” The team will play Real Madrid on May 19 at 8:30pm at Sinan Erdem Dome. The winner of this game will compete for the championship with either CSKA Moscow or Olympiacos, depending on the result of the game on May 19 at 5:30pm. The championship game is on Sunday, May 21 at 9pm. In Turkey, TRT Spor will broadcast all games live on TV.
Zorlu PSM will be screening EuroLeague games on May 19: 6:30pm for CSKA Moscow vs. Olympiacos, 9:30pm for Fenerbahçe vs. Real Madrid; May 21: 6pm for the game for the third place and the championship game at 9pm. After the second game on Friday night, there will be a party with music from the ‘70s, to the ‘90s.
A festival-like weekend is coming up
Before the games start, there are a slew of other fun activities taking place around the sports complex. FanZone activities include a concert by Manga, three-on-three basketball tournaments, and much more. Euroleague legends of previous years will play in exhibition games and hold autograph sessions as well. Check the events schedule for the dates and times for the events on the Euroleague website.
Fans will also be able to watch the games with virtual reality glasses on Euroleague.net after the games end. One of the referees for the games will wear special equipment that will record the game and allow fans to experience it as if they were on the court.
Şirin Pancaroğlu revives the lost Turkish harp
For many of us, the sound of the harp recalls images of cherubs in heavenly clouds, or classical concert halls. But Turkey’s foremost harpist Şirin Pancaroğlu takes the sound both forward and backward in time, using an Ottoman harp in her album Çengnağme and also collaborating with electronic composer Erdem Helvacıoğlu. On June 4 she will be performing at the Istanbul Music Festival as part of her group Şimdi Ensemble. Adding a historic setting to the rich character of the music, this concert will take place in a street of the Grand Bazaar.
Though she entered the classical conservatory at age 11, Pancaroğlu did not turn to the Turkish tradition until later in life. “At first it felt like going back to primary school. I began with very accomplished musicians, and I couldn’t do anything but watch with my mouth open,” she told The Guide Istanbul. “But in Turkish music there is a concept called meşk, which means learning by playing with masters. It’s a bit like learning to cook – you have to follow the cook carefully and then try for yourself.” With the help of traditional musicians, she soon adapted to the spirit, even performing a 45-minute improvisation with cellist Rebecca Foon at the Cappadox Festival.
In her decades with the harp, Pancaroğlu has discovered its various versions across the continents. The Ottoman harp, or çeng, can be seen in Ottoman miniatures from the 16th century. However, Ottoman craftsmen stopped making the çeng around 500 years ago. It was not until the early 2000s that one was reconstructed for Pancaroğlu, making her one of the very few musicians today to take on the ancient instrument.
One guest musician on the latest Şimdi Ensemble album, Eternal Love, is French tuba player Michel Godard, whose jazz virtuosity blends with the Turkish ensemble surprisingly well. Composer and vocalist Bora Uymaz gives intense interpretations of the Sufi lyrics, some of which date from the 13th century. Behind it all, Volkan Ergen’s percussion creates swishing caravans and throbbing veins of mystical meaning. As Pancaroğlu explains, “We weren’t trying to do very traditional Sufi music in that group. TRT [the national television channel] sometimes plays Sufi music when there is a tragic event in the country, so the music can seem very heavy and mournful. But there are ancient lessons in the lyrics of this music, and we decided to protect that while giving the music a new form.” Her next project is a solo album of Ottoman and Turkish classical music with an expected release date in 2017.
Stay up to date with upcoming concerts at www.sirinpancaroglu.com
Top 7 burgers in Istanbul
A good hamburger is more than just a bun and patty. With quality meat, homemade buns, and special recipes, these places seem to have perfected their burger game. If you are looking for something more elegant but still as tasty as the ultimate late-night food, ıslak (wet) hamburger, head to one of these joints.
Burgerhood’s motto is “original taste for real burger lovers”, and the corner-joint in Teşvikiye meets expectations. You can go for the classic or cheeseburger from the six signature burgers on offer or pick one of the more creative renditions that up the ante with ingredients like Swiss cheese or Roquefort. Each burger comes with truffle fries. Hacı Emin Efendi Sokak No.24/E, Teşvikiye; T: (0212) 234 63 03
Opened late last year in Bomonti, Marotiri is a venture from the minds behind But First Coffee. Done up like a chic eatery, the restaurant’s burger menu is not long, but covers all the essentials with local twists. The secret to their burgers is the quality meat that comes from their own farm in Adapazarı. The Marotiri Bazlama Burger is a lighter option with bazlama in place of a bun. Afterward you can order coffee from next-door neighbor But First Coffee. Feriköy Fırın Sokak No.5/9A, Bomonti; T: (0212) 343 02 07
Jimmy’s Burger is a hole-in-the- wall in İstinye, yet there is one burger on the menu that is worth the trip even from the farthest corner of the city. The casual burger joint’s Tereyağlı Burger (butter burger) is dense and buttery with a homemade bun and juicy patty. Koru Caddesi No.7, İstinye; T: 0534 812 48 46
Tucked away between stores in Tophane, Black Angus is a steak and burger house that you have probably passed dozens of times and never noticed. Next time you are on Boğazkesen Caddesi, follow the smell of freshly baked hamburger buns blending with the aroma of well-seasoned meat. The restaurant has a variety of burgers, including one with sucuk (Turkish sausage), but go for the Black Burger Alaturka for a mix of a Turkish take on the classic burger format. Boğazkesen Caddesi No.19/1, Tophane; T: (0212) 806 62 04
Akali revamped its menu to serve only hamburgers, and we are quite pleased about it. The standard hamburger comes with cheddar cheese, pickles, and pickled onion. You can also add delicious ingredients like avocado cream or bacon to create your own special hamburger. Dibekçi Sokak No.11/A, Beşiktaş; T: (0212) 227 42 42
Nusr-et’s precision when it comes to meat—and salt-sprinkling—is a world phenomenon now. You can taste the quality from the first bite. Nusr-et has two burger options: Nusr-et Burger and the Lokum Burger. If you are looking for something different, go for Lokum Burger, which has pieces of beef tenderloin in place of a patty. Milli Reasürans Pasajı, Abdi İpekçi Caddesi No.57/A, Nişantaşı; T: (0212) 231 24 70
Sourcing from one of Cihangir’s oldest traders, Kasabım Ethane, a butcher that has been around for more than 50 years, Kasabım Restaurant’s Fümeli Burger is a carnivore's dream, with the patty topped with smoked deli beef. The restaurant’s steaks are also top-notch. Şimşirci Sokak No.4/A, Cihangir; T: (0212) 251 25 75
Bonus: Burger Wars by Burger Lab
Calling all meat lovers and ground beef sandwich enthusiasts: Burger Lab will be holding the finals for its fifth annual Burger Wars competition at UNIQ in Maslak on May 24. The theme for this year’s competition is Turkey’s regional cheeses, with the motto “The Best Meat, the Best Burger”. A jury of food and drink professionals will crown the tastiest burger recipe. The night will be topped off with an after party and concert. For more info go to www.burgersavaslari.com. Tickets available at biletix.com.
Where to have Mother’s Day brunch in Istanbul this Sunday
An elegant bouquet from the best florists in Istanbul, a lovely gift from The Guide Shop, a delightful brunch, and an exhilarating visit to the spa may not repay all that our mothers have done for us, but it will surely pamper her this Sunday. Take a look at our list of suggestions from around the city before you make plans for Mother’s Day.
Arnavutköy’s hip restaurant Hudson and newly opened Martinez Istanbul are dedicating their Sunday brunch to mothers. A DJ and live saxophone will accompany Hudson’s brunch and both restaurants will have some surprises for mothers as well.
Mittag’s Mother’s Day brunch offers fresh spring greens, sugar-free desserts with seasonal fruits, refreshing salads, and dishes with regional produce from all over Turkey as well as eggs and homemade pastries.
If your mom fancies Japanese cuisine, Zuma’s regular brunch would be an ideal fit for Mother’s Day this year. Spice it up a bit with craft cocktails from the restaurant’s bar.
Treat your mother with a lavish night accommodation at the Çırağan Palace on May 13, along with a 40 minute massage at the spa. Then treat her to the Mother’s Day brunch offered the next day along with a beautiful bouquet to truly show your mother your appreciation. T: (0212) 326 46 46
Have a feast with Flapper Swings’ live performance and Raffles Istanbul’s rich brunch menu with seafood, pizzas cooked a stone oven, homemade pasta, and much more on Mother’s Day. Champagne and a special cocktail from Long Bar are included in the prix fixe menu.
How much? 225 TL
If you have a foodie mom, spoiling her with a picnic-style brunch on Mother’s Day would be a great way to celebrate. Hilton Istanbul Bomonti has thought of everything, from an open buffet with sushi and risotto to chic bouquets by Parla Flower beside that cute picnic basket. Give your mother an experience filled with good food and quality time this year. From May 8–14, book your mother a spa day, which has been extended from 50 minutes to 90 minutes as a Mother’s Day special. T: (0212) 375 30 00
How much? Brunch 145 TL, Spa 249 TL
Sait Halim Paşa Yalısı
Right by the Bosphorus, Sait Halim Paşa Yalısı is offering mothers a chic brunch with live music this year. Take your mom to the historic mansion and enjoy the food accompanied by a live jazz performance. T: (0212) 223 05 66
How much? 195 TL
Kids will prepare brunch for their moms this Mother’s Day at Brizo Restaurant under the supervision of the restaurant’s chefs. T: (0212) 463 13 30
Conrad Istanbul offers a great 40 percent discount discount for mothers on all spa massages, using French Charm D’Orient’s spa and care products. Pamper your mother with a 90-minute massage this Mother’s Day. Along with these offers, Conrad Istanbul has prepared a Mother’s Day brunch at Manzara Restaurant. T: (0212) 310 25 25
Feriye Palace’s Executive Chef Aydın Demir will prepare a lovely brunch this Mother’s Day. Join the brunch with your mother on May 14, from 10am–3pm for a spread of omelettes, a pasta station, barbeque, sweets, and ice cream. T: 0538 483 20 21
How much? 175 TL.
Fire of Anatolia: 15th Year Show
The Fire of Anatolia (Anadolu Ateşi) dance troupe is celebrating its fifteenth year with a special show at İstiklal's Grand Pera Emek Stage. Since its founding in 1999, Fire of Anatolia has toured through 97 countries, with over 4,000 live performances, carrying Turkey's culture of music and dance around the world. This fifteenth-year show will feature a larger number of performers, with three generations of the show's talented dancers. Tickets from Biletix.
Founded in 2010 by Burak Onur Erdem, the Rezonans choir quickly became one of the best-known Turkish choirs both at home and internationally. The choir represented Turkey at Europe's largest choral festival, the Europa Cantat Festival. As the first Turkish choir to enter the Cork International Fleischmann Trophy competition, the choir returned to Turkey with the second prize. This concert at İstiklal's Grand Pera Emek Stage will take a German-Romantic theme, with compositions by Felix Mendelssohn, Johannes Brahms, Robert Schumann, and Josef Rheinberger. Tickets are available from Biletino.
World-renowned violin virtuoso Viktoria Mullova is playing in the atmospheric setting of the Hagia Irene Museum, on the grounds of Topkapı Palace. This concert will strongly feature pieces by J. S. Bach, as well as pieces from Prokofiev, George Benjamin, and Dai Fujikura. Mullova has been called "the world's greatest living violin virtuoso", particularly for her performances and recordings of Bach. This concert is a highlight of the year's classical calendar in Istanbul. Tickets are from Biletix.
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Bouzouki Orhan: Balkan Express
Headlining this Balkan fest is Orhan Osman, a German-born Turk who learned his bouzouki skills in Greece. Osman has played to audiences across Europe, as well as with respected Turkish musicians such as Hüsnü Şenlendirici. His bouzouki repertoire includes Greek and Balkan melodies as well as Turkish pop and folk music. This concert at garajistanbul promises a night of infectious rhythm and rapid melodies. Tickets are from Biletix.
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One of the hottest voices of Turkish rap, Norm Ender, is coming to perform at Babylon Bomonti on May 11. His first album İçinde Patlar came out in 2000, and he's now performing material from his latest album Aura. All of the arragements, lyrics, and music on this album are produced by Norm Ender, marking a new stage in his career. Tickets from Biletix.
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As part of Zorlu PSM's Jazz Festival, American singer Beth Hart is coming to enchant Istanbul with her jazz, soul, and blues stylings. Hart came to fame in the 90s, appearing alongside guitar legends such as Jeff Beck and Slash. Her album with Joe Bonamassa, Don't Explain, earned her a Grammy nomination, while her 2015 single "Mechanical Heart" topped the music lists. Appearances on the Jools Holland show, and at the Royal Albert Hall and the Barbican Center, have proved popular. Hart's 2016 album Fire on the Floor keeps up the pace. Tickets from Biletix.
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For the love of Istanbul: imagining history with Muhittin Bayram
When choosing the name of his website, Muhittin Bayram could have chosen something simpler – Old Istanbul, for example. Instead he chose Hayalleme, which means “imagining.” This reminds us that our view of the past is always framed by the present, colored by our own nostalgia and prejudices. More than just photos of old Istanbul, Bayram's website offers a meditation on our place in history.
Born in Greece, Bayram moved with his family to Istanbul at a young age. “We moved into an old wooden house in Beşiktaş. I fell in love with that old Istanbul feeling there,” he told The Guide Istanbul. Professionally, Bayram earns his living as a computer programmer, and began to learn more about the city during an assignment that required photographs from modern Istanbul. “That gave me a better opportunity to wander the streets. On those walks I started wondering who else had walked those streets before," he says. "Then I came across some old photographs and started comparing the old views with the same places today. Then I started searching for photos of specific places in the digital archives. Finally this curiosity took me to the secondhand merchants to look for old photos there.”
New media for old times
This quest for old photographs needed a public outlet, which Bayram created in his website Hayalleme.com and promoted through Twitter. He benefited from fortunate timing on social media. “Certainly there were Istanbul photo collectors before me, and in previous generations. But Twitter was a new medium. Earlier on you couldn’t share photos on Twitter, only the link. I started doing this just at the time when Twitter started letting you share photos directly. It drew a lot of interest, because most people didn’t know these old Istanbul photos or where to find them.”
One technique that has set Bayram apart from other photo collectors is his old-new montages. After studying an old photo, he goes to the same spot and takes a new photo from the same angle. By pasting the old and new photographs together he highlights the changes that have happened over the years.
His network of secondhand merchants lets him know whenever an interesting or valuable photograph comes into their shops. But even with these contacts, he has had worries that the stock of photos will not last long. “Actually I didn’t have that many photos at that time – close to two thousand. They were going to run out, but as people were interested I thought it should continue for longer,” he says. His discovery of foreign archives such as the American Library of Congress increased his collection significantly. Turkish archives such as SALT and the Sabancı Museum are also valuable resources, and Atatürk Library has recently placed its digital archives online.
The price of change
Of course, not all photos are equal in historical or monetary value. “Personal photos are more precious in my view. They might be photos that no-one [outside the family] has seen before. If there’s a famous person in the photo then of course it becomes much more valuable. If there is writing on the back, or if the photo is from a famous photography studio, then that adds value too,” he explains. The writing on the back of photos and postcards offers a personal context to the nameless images, and the messages can sometimes be surprising. “I remember one photo that had ‘Me and my car’ written on the back. The picture was of a man posing on his car,” Bayram laughs.
As the car photo shows, Bayram’s collection is not only concerned with permanent landmarks, such as buildings. It is possible to date his photographs quite accurately by observing the style of hats, clothes, cars, typefaces, and products. “A photo of the Hagia Sophia today and one from a century ago aren’t really different. The people in front of it change,” he says. “There’s something philosophical about it actually. You see how ephemeral we are – at one time some people were living here and now they’re gone. But we behave very selfishly, although we’re only on this earth for an insignificant amount of time.”
This selfishness also has an impact on the urban landscape. Sometimes it is not possible for Bayram to take a photo from the same angle as a photographer from 100 years ago, because new buildings have covered the view. “Everyone complains about all the tall concrete buildings being built, but given an opportunity everyone wants to do it. People look at the old photos and say, ‘Ah, how beautiful it was.’ Then they turn around and think, ‘I wish my granddad had bought that land and built on it.’”
Best foodie pop-ups in Istanbul
Foodie networks keep the culinary scene vibrant and add some creativeness to the milieu by taking food out of the restaurant and bringing people together on a regular basis. If you are looking to explore new pairings and flavors while meeting like-minded foodies, get a head start with these foodie pop-up events.
Yeme İçme İşleri
Founded by four foodies, Alican and Yiğit Akdemir Thomas Fellows, and Enis Güven, Yeme İçme İşleri (Food and Drink Works) is holding themed food and drink pairing events in many locations around the city, highlighting complementary pairs like pecans with a stout beer. Follow their Instagram or website to hear about their next event. instagram.com/yemeicmeisleri; yemeicmeisleri.com
“Every dinner has a story,” say those behind Wondercats Pop-Up. A mysterious dining experience, this popup takes place at locations that are disclosed 24 hours before the event. Chefs Sinan Budeyri and Emirhan Paralı prepare five- or six-course menus that go with themed events—their latest theme was “a night at the museum” and took place at the Istanbul Toy Museum. Follow their Instagram closely, as seating for these events is limited and tickets tend to sell out in minutes. instagram.com/wondercats.popup
As you can understand from its name, Drinknbite focuses on food and drink pairings at various locations around town such as Suvla Kanyon and the International Wine & Spirits Academy (IWSA). Wines from Thrace and Anatolia nd their best matches from world cuisines such as ceviche from as far afield as Latin America. Keep checking @drinknbite on Instagram for the next event. instagram.com/drinknbite
The brainchild of Boğaziçi University student Gamze Büyükgüzel, The Communeaty is a foodie network bringing together fine dining aficionados who want to meet new people and share their passion. If you want to be a part of this network, sign up for the next event on their website. instagram.com/thecommuneaty; thecommuneaty.com
Think of Eataway as the Airbnb of dining. You can either become a host and showcase your cooking or join a local cook’s table to experience their home-cooked food. Eataway has a list of cities around the globe that have this network from the US to Germany. If you are traveling soon and want to taste what the locals eat, take a look at their website. eataway.com
Hands-On Permaculture Design Course
For those wanting to reduce their carbon footprint by growing their own produce in the city, this 72-hour permaculture course offers full knowledge and training of the techniques. Course leader Shaul Shaham is the resident permaculturist at Ek Biç Ye İç and Narköy, joined by molecular biologist and geneticist İdil Akdos to teach all the elements of permaculture, including visits to organic farms around Istanbul. To book a place, contact email@example.com. For more details see the course's website.
Design on Tomtom Street
Beyoğlu's Tomtom Kaptan Sokak is home to four days of art, design, and shopping on May 11-14. This multidisciplinary festival will also host yoga and breathing workshops, a group exhibition, local cuisine, dance shows, and live music, turning it into a real street festival. The range of design items on offer means this is an excellent opportunity to find a unique gift for Mother's Day on May 14. Find out more on the event's website.
Istanbul Lettuce Festival in Yedikule
The Marul Bayramı (Lettuce Festival) is a celebration of the famous Yedikule lettuce, grown in these urban gardens whose history goes back to the Byzantine era. This breed of lettuce is particularly tall and oily, making a healthy meal in itself. This celebration will be accompanied by the Cümbüş Cemaat band in the Yedikule gardens by the Byzantine city walls. Whether you're a gastronome or a party-goer, this daytime festival shows another side to old Istanbul. Read The Guide Istanbul's article on the famous Yedikule lettuce and follow the Facebook page for more updates.
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Orlando Carlo Calumeno Collection & Archives
Private museums are a major player in Istanbul’s cultural scene, but their owners often make their careers in industries quite different from art. Orlando Carlo Calumeno has done something similar, though on a smaller scale, in his Teşvikiye shop, Orlando Carlo Calumeno Collection & Archives. While continuing as an executive board member at Net Holding, Calumeno has also collected countless objects from 19th- and 20th-century Turkey.
Calumeno is owner of the world’s largest archive of Ottoman postcards, with over 20,000 that he has collected during his lifetime. A selection was displayed at the Tophane-i Amire exhibition With the Intention of Pomegranate: It's Not Time to Forget but to Remember in March 2016. This exhibition focused on the shared culture of Turks and Armenians in Anatolia, and Calumeno’s collection shows the full range of languages, religions, and ethnicities that made up the Ottoman cultural landscape.
However, the collection goes far beyond postcards, from antique rugs and portraits to metal safes, shaving equipment, weapons, Istanbul guidebooks in several languages, tobacco boxes, ceramics, silver ornaments, advertisements, metal signs, and all manner of personal items from the late Ottoman period. At that time even the simplest objects were branded in at least three languages – usually Ottoman Turkish, Greek, and Armenian – which shows that cosmopolitanism was a part of everyday life. Whether you intend to find a unique souvenir or simply stare at the fascinating antiques, visitors are welcome to come and explore the city’s past.
The store is located in Hak Pasajı, one of the hidden treasures of Teşvikiye. This arcade manages to maintain an old-time feel that has been lost in many of the city’s shopping areas – antiques stores, boutique stationers, jewelers, and shoemakers continue their specialty trades at a more leisurely pace than the crowded avenues outside.
No LaB: Turkish street culture meets art and design
No LaB first burst onto the Istanbul scene with Modern Africa / A Rainbow Nation, showing a new face of art and design from Africa. Now with their second exhibition, the women behind No LaB, Ala Onur and Zeynep Ercan, believe that Turkish street culture is ready for a contemporary twist.
The new exhibition, Made in Türkiye, brings together local and foreign artists to highlight the distinctive features of life on Istanbul’s streets. “Around the world, street culture is becoming very mainstream—restaurants are doing street food, and design is using street fashion. But in Turkey, instead of taking inspiration from our own culture, we still take it from the West,” Onur says, with Ercan adding, “We’re focusing on what the future is for Turkey in art and culture.”
Ercan and Onur have found a unique venue in the Hasköy Wool Yarn Factory, an old industrial space that is now used for cultural events. Since takılma (hanging out) is such a part of Istanbul’s street life, Made in Türkiye includes an area to hang out and drink coffee in the factory courtyard.
Pınar Yeğin has become known as half of the design duo Rumisu, whose whimsical textiles have enchanted Istanbul. For No LaB, she has tried her hand at a new material: ceramics. The name of this collection is Ağır Abiler, which translates as “tough guys” or “bad asses”. There are moustaches galore, but the birds and floral borders suggest that these guys are not so tough after all.
Illustrator Beril Ateş produced this colorful map of Istanbul for Hong Kong magazine Victionary. Landmarks merge with food, drink, sport, street characters, and local products in this contemporary version of the Ottoman miniature style. See more of Ateş’s distinctive work at her website.
New Delhi-based artist Aman Khanna produced a special range of her Claymen sculptures, inspired by Istanbul. The round figures with conical hats draw on the traditional clothes of the Mevlevi dervishes who have become a symbol of Turkey. Khanna’s aim in these pieces is to show the existential crises of common people in an age when “man is losing his humanity and becoming a thing amongst the things he produces.”
Sinem Yıldırım draws on the aesthetic of Turkish kitsch in these textile works. The mass-produced carpets are embellished with glitzy strings that highlight the absurdity of the images, which depict an orientalist fantasy of reclining women and a romanticized forest scene.
The name of this work is Bit Pazarı (Flea Market). Istanbul has a number of large flea markets, such as the Dolapdere market on every Sunday. Artist Pınar Akkurt has taken items that are typical of Turkish culture such as Turkish coffee pots, teapots, hammam bowls, tea trays, and portable barbecues and had them flattened with a machine. In this way they seem to be preserved like a museum collection.
London-based artist Amit Baruch took inspiration from Istanbul’s gecekondu (shanty) houses, examining the classic objects and furnishings inside these hastily built homes. He then exaggerated these features to a surreal degree—there is a column made of teapots and hookah bowls, a broom with a hookah pipe for a handle, and an incongruously large plasma TV in the corner. On the walls are his photo-textile collage portraits.
See Made in Türkiye at Hasköy Eski Yün İplik Fabrikası, Kırmızı Minare Sokak No.3, Hasköy, until June 10.
Pottery making in Cappadocia: the relationship of the river and clay
The ease of navigation around a town, that is divided by a river makes visitors adapt to the new location much faster. They quickly learn distinctive markers of each bank, finding the best spots preferred by locals and making them their own. This is the case of Kızılırmak, Turkey’s longest river running entirely within the borders of the country, and which splits the Cappadocian town of Avanos into two sides. It is on the banks of the river where the town’s social life blooms, but its meaning goes beyond the atmosphere of the walking paths, lively cafes, and cozy waterfront benches. The locals’ relationship with Kızılırmak dates back to the Bronze Age, when the Hittite Empire occupied the areas directly surrounding the watershed, using its natural resources in many different ways. In Avanos, it was all about pottery.
Utilizing earth, sun and fire
Clay used to make pottery is a mixture of hard clay resources found in the mountains surrounding Avanos, and the softer ones taken directly from the Kızılırmak riverbed. Since it is not possible to produce quality pottery using only one type of clay (as it would crumble during the process), a special red paste that takes its color from local soil, is made using both types.
The paste is kneaded by hand to remove lumps and, once soft, left to rest for a day. The next day, using a foot-driven wheel, craftsmen shape their clay into objects which are then left for a short rest in the sun. Only then are handles added. If the initial object is left in the sun for too long, there is a chance the handles might not adhere.
Next, the surface of some of the objects is painted. Traditionally, yoşa (natural red dye) is used. The objects are left to dry in yanalak, a special room within the workshop, where the firing kilns are also located. Objects to be fired are first exposed to sunlight in order to increase their temperature before placing them in a kiln for fumigation and burning.
The last part of the manufacturing process takes more than a day in the summer, but in winter the waiting time extends to more than a week. For pottery burning, the kiln temperature should be at exactly 1,200 degrees Celsius, otherwise the clay begins to break. The final step is a 12-hour cooling, moistening and polishing of the objects. These handmade objects will then serve you for many years.
Pottery shopping in Avanos
Native to Avanos, Galip Körükçü is a sixth generation pottery-maker. Together with his wife Lillian, they work on traditional and contemporary pottery and ceramics. Chez Galip, Hasan Kalesi Mevkii No.3, Avanos; T: (0384) 511 45 77.
Types of traditional pottery objects
Due to their functionality, there are several types of traditional pottery objects produced in Avanos today, and used in contemporary households:
Üzlük - a small bowl, often used as part of a breakfast table setup to carry pekmez, olives, jams, or honey.
Küp - medium-sized bowl without handles used to make Avanos küp peyniri. Once the
curd is ready, the top of the
bowl is covered with clay and buried in the sand.
Testi - a vessel holding water. The clay paste used to produce this type of object is mixed with salt to enhance its cooling properties.
Güveç - popular type of small bowl used for oven-baked dishes.
For fine examples of Avanos pottery browse our online collection at shoptheguide.com
Best makeup artists in Istanbul
If eyes are the window to the soul, the face is it’s finely fashioned gateway. Meet accomplished beauty experts in Istanbul who are leaders in their craft, as adept at high fashion as they are everyday street style.
After two years in the banking industry, Melis İlkkılıç decided to drop her resume off at the local M.A.C store, where she worked then worked in sales before breaking out on her own to go freelance. It was, in her words, “a very difficult road,” but one she loved. “My parents almost had a heart attack,” laughs İlkkılıç. “But they supported me, because it was something I was strongly passionate about.
Today she regularly works with a list of loyal customers, like Turkish actresses Neslihan Atagül and Merve Boluğur. İlkkılıç has a reputation for using makeup that caters to each individual. Although many of the women she works with want to look like a specific celebrity (Kylie Jenner is particularly popular right now), she says it’s important to cater to each person’s different looks and needs. “When I look at a person, I know what will make them shine,” she says. “I’ve spent 10 years learning by doing - each person has a unique feature to highlight.” She works with a range of clients, often from her two-floor apartment in Göktürk, where she also keeps an eye on her young child. “The best advice I can give young makeup artists starting out is to keep going and get all the experience they can,” İlkkılıç says thoughtfully. “It takes a long time but look at me. I feel like finally, I made it, and I couldn’t be happier.”
The look: Melis İlkkılıç created a simple, yet striking look. The model’s natural skin is highlighted and glowing. The eyes are smoky, shadowed two tones darker than the model’s actual skin color, which accentuates her pretty orbs but remains undramatic. This combination is perfect for daytime and evening wear.
Önder Tiryaki is one of the best-known names in the industry. He originally rose to prominence for his hair styling skills, his eye for beauty and his dextrous fingers - which now fluff the follicles of Turkey’s most talented and beautiful. “I dream something and prepare a look the way I want to see a woman - complete with make-up, hair, and place to go,” says Tiryaki about his process. “I love best preparing someone for the red carpet.” Women like actresses Serenay Sarıkaya and Bergüzar Korel regularly show up at Tiryaki’s door.
In 2010, the spokesman for Pantene branched out into makeup, professionally. “I was never trained in makeup,” he says as he buzzes around his model, dabbing at her face. “I learned about it by doing it at home and watching videos.I think makeup was the missing part of me,” he says. “Makeup and hair are two very different arts, but they also complete each other.”
The look: Önder Tiryaki has created strong eyes for an evening out, creating dramatic shades but avoiding graphic, hard edges. Again the natural skin of the face is highlighted and allowed to shine through.
To flirt with fame, visit Önder Tiryaki Hair & Makeup Studio (reservation required), Husrev Gerede Caddesi, Sevinç Apt, No.86 d/1, Teşvikiye; T: (0212) 261 61 60
European Beauty Concept is not necessarily a name that’s always in the media limelight. The company focuses more on training some of the best makeup and nail artists around the city, running classes and trainings on new techniques and products from their small space close to the busy Levent business district. But it is also here that founder Boriana Doganova, who hails from Bulgaria and is a long-time resident of Istanbul, works with single customers on their diverse set of makeup and nail needs, from daily touch-ups to dramatic looks for nights out on the town.
What makes this spot really unique is their expertise in permanent makeup. “It seems very scary to people when they first hear about it,” says Doganova. “But our techniques and technology have really advanced, so the makeup looks natural and lasts for about four months.” The most popular focus is eyebrows. Doganova and her team work with each client for sometimes hours, measuring the face and matching skin colors to ensure the eyebrows fit the face in shape and color. “Each person’s face and needs are very different, so we have to spend a long time making sure we get the shape perfect,” says Doganova. “Then the process itself is very quick and painless - and makes life easier when getting ready to go out.”
The look: Eyebrows are done in a natural shades that still look good even as they begin to fade. The model’s eyes are done in shimmering colors that pop.
For eyebrows that won’t fade from view and other expert services visit EBC Beauty Concept at Levent Caddesi 56, Levent; T: (0212) 278 10 87
Hıdrellez with Kocani Orkestar
Hıdırellez is a spring celebration from India to the Balkans, celebrated on May 5. The following day, Macedonian Roma band Koçani Orkestar is coming to Istanbul for a Hıdırellez celebration at the Armada Hotel. Koçani Orkestar have performed at international music festivals, renowned for their fast-paced brass sound, inspired by the Turkish bands of the Ottoman Empire and filtered through the Balkan Roma spirit. This celebration includes a five-course meal and drinks on the Armada Hotel terrace. Tickets from Biletix.
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Colombia's unique artistic voice Botero at Anna Laudel Contemporary
Born in 1932, Fernando Botero is the most renowned artist of South America and a cultural icon in his native Colombia. A range of his sculptures, paintings, and drawings is now on display in Istanbul for the first time, brought from a private collection in Switzerland. Called Everyday's Poetry – Scenes from the Fullness of Life, the exhibition continues at Anna Laudel Contemporary until June 25.
Although Botero is a figurative artist, his realism is filtered through an idiosyncratic lens. The salient characteristic of his work is the “large people”, a term that Botero has used to describe the stocky men and voluptuous women that fill his canvases. Whether nudes, musicians, circus performers, presidents, couples, or gangsters, all of Botero’s figures have similar forms. The artist never used live models, preferring to represent the figures that inhabited his mind.
Noting Botero’s predecessors, exhibition curator Dr. Klaus Wolbert told The Guide Istanbul, “He was influenced by modern artists such as Picasso, but also artists in the past [such as] Pierro della Francesca and Giotto in Italy. He knows the history of European art very well.” In his hometown of Medellin, Botero took inspiration from the colonial baroque styles of the local churches and monasteries. Later he discovered Mexican painters such as Jose Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, and David Alfaro Siqueiros, as well as Dali and the Surrealists. He also had the chance to study the Renaissance masters at museums in Madrid and Florence while traveling in Europe.
The exact reasons for Botero’s choice of large figures is unclear even to the artist himself, who says that he is simply drawn to them on a creative or subconscious level. Unlike many contemporary artists, Botero has remained faithful to that primal image throughout the decades. “Botero’s style is very independent of other movements in contemporary art. He’s very original. … His style didn’t change. From the beginning in the ‘50s, it has always been in the same manner,” Wolbert says.
Despite living in Europe and North America for many years, Botero defines his art as resolutely Colombian, sticking to Colombian figures and themes in the majority of his work. His social conscience became apparent in a series of paintings on the drug cartels in Colombia, and in another series on the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
In the current exhibition, one painting in particular shows Botero’s Surrealist and satirical streak. Titled The President, the piece depicts an unnamed but presumably Colombian president sitting with a songbird perched on his finger. This strange juxtaposition of power and frivolity, while the president turns away from the bird with a disdainful look, opens the painting to political commentary. These ironic touches are typical of Botero, whose great love for Colombia is always tempered with humor.
AIMA Festival Orchestra
Now celebrating its fourth year, the Ayvalık International Music Academy (AIMA) Festival Orchestra is coming for a special concert on İstiklal's Grand Pera Emek Stage on May 7. AIMA is a masterclass academy situated in the Aegean town of Ayvalık, and its festival orchestra features the best of Turkey's young classical talent. In this concert, foreign soloists Andrej Bielow and Marco Misciagna will perform everything from Baroque pieces to tango with the Ayvalık students. Bielow and Misciagna will be leading the violin and viola masterclasses at AIMA on July 22-30. Tickets are available from Biletiva.
Jazz Spring at Yeldeğirmeni
CreativeMornings: Mercan Dede
Taking place under the theme of "Beyond!", the CreativeMornings program of talks at ATÖLYE continues with Mercan Dede on April 28. Electronic and acoustic musician-composer Mercan Dede, aka Arkın Allen, has achieved great success with his mix of Turkish traditional music and contemporary electronic sounds. In this talk he will explain how through such musical fusion we can create a universal language, beyond cultural and geographical borders, as well as those of age, language, and ideology. This talk is free and open to the public, after signing up on the ATÖLYE website.
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Discover the rare and beautiful flowers of Anatolia
From the average tourist’s perspective, Turkey might seem to be a Mediterranean country with a landscape and climate similar to Greece. But as you move past the western coast and into central and eastern Anatolia, an array of unique vistas opens up. The many mountain ranges that cross Anatolia divide the land into distinct climates and environments. Over the millennia, these natural barriers have fostered local species and allowed them to survive. Compared to Western Europe, where around 1 percent of plants are endemic, almost one-third of Turkey’s flora are native and unique to their area. From one mountain to the next, Anatolia is a patchwork of biological history.
Wild mullein: called mor sığırkuyruğu (purple cow’s tail) in Turkish, its Latin name is Verbascum wiedemannianum. This plant has a tall, flowering stem adorned with rich purple flowers. It is commonly found in the provinces of Ankara, Erzincan, Hatay, Kayseri, Sivas, Tokat, and Bayburt.
This striking orange flower belongs to the Armenian poppy, named after the area of historical Armenia that is now within Turkey. The poppy’s range in northeastern Turkey crosses the modern-day borders with Armenia and Georgia.
The Turkish names sevgi çiçeği (affection flower) or yanardöner (shimmering) perfectly describe this flower’s frilly, iridescent petals. These flowers are only found in the village of Hacı Hasan in Ankara province. Sadly, the spread of farmland in the area is threatening these flowers’ survival.
Fritillarias are bulbous flowers in the lily family, and this one of Turkey’s native varieties has the Latin name Fritillaria aurea, meaning Golden fritillaria. This is a dwarf species with yellow flowers covered in checkered brown spots and is distributed through Central and Southern Anatolia.
Another kind of fritillaria, this flower grows in the Aegean and Mediterranean areas of İzmir, Muğla, and Antalya. The bell-like, golden flowers have a merry appearance. This fritillaria also has a smaller subspecies serpenticola that grows only in Antalya.
Although the Damask rose is not confined to Turkey, the country’s Isparta region is famous for growing these fragrant blooms, which originated in the Middle East or Central Asia. Perfume and beauty product companies around the world prize the rose oil produced from these flowers, which is rich in nutrients and has a therapeutic scent. Available from The Guide Shop, the gülsha range of Isparta rose products uses the expertise of French specialists to harness these qualities into all-natural skin care.
Çam Sut Mangal Restaurant
Located just across a busy intersection from another authentic Korean restaurant, Seorabeol, Çam Sut Mangal Restaurant’s unassuming facade hides a big personality that starts with the banchan. Many say a Korean restaurant can be judged solely on the quality of these small seasonal appetizers that arrive gratis at every table, and Çam Sut’s offerings boded well. The spread included three different kinds of homemade kimchi (cabbage, white radish and green onion) plus little bean sprouts just slicked in sesame oil, fresh greens, a blushing pink bowl of pickled watermelon radish in cold soup to cleanse the palate, and more.
On the menu, you’ll find many of the usual barbeque grill suspects - all done well - plus a few interesting specialties. Most brash is the Korean fried chicken, where nuggets of white and dark meat are twice fried and then tossed in a sweet and spicy, bright-red sauce. Though not the traditional chicken wings you’ll find in South Korea, it is the best rendition we’ve come across in Istanbul and will return time and again when the cravings hit. More subtle was silky vegetable and tofu stew, the broth redolent with umami-rich miso that fortified the stomach and soul. Add in an above-par bibimbap (the original, perfect Buddha bowl), filled with vegetables and in a stone pot so hot, the rice crisps on the bottom, and you have a meal that lifts the spirit. No wonder so many Korean expats directed us here - the food has true Seoul.
- Fit for foodies
- Kid Friendly
- Good for Groups
- Cash and credit card
Jasper Høiby's Fellow Creatures
For International Jazz Day on April 30, Salon İKSV is hosting a concert with Danish double bassist Jasper Høiby and his band Fellow Creatures. In his early years Høiby played with leading names in the London jazz scene after studying at the Royal Academy of Music. Since forming the band Phronesis and recording his first album as band leader in 2007, Høiby has continued in the Phronesis trio up until today with the 2017 album The Behemoth. The brand new Fellow Creatures group features musicians Corrie Dick, Will Barry, Josh Arcoleo, and Jim Gold in a combo that has earned praise from Jamie Cullum. Tickets from Biletix.
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A star cast of Balkan groups is coming together at Zorlu PSM's Balkan Ateşi (Balkan Fire) concert on April 28. German DJ, producer, and bandleader Shantel is onstage with Bucovina Club Orkestar, while Turkish clarinet virtuoso Serkan Çağrı is joined by Yarkın Ritm Grubu and Roma brass band Kocani Orkestar. The infectious beats and intoxicating melodies of the Balkans will sweep across the dancefloor at this meeting of musical legends. Tickets from Biletix.
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"Poland Now" film program
Istanbul Modern continues its program of local and international film screenings with three days of Poland Now, a showcase of contemporary Polish film on April 27, 29, and 30. These films are all by young, emerging directors who have been recognized at important festivals, showing that the cultural dynamics of Poland are still producing notable artists. Some of the outstanding films in the Istanbul Modern program are All These Sleepless Nights, which gained Michal Marczak the Best Directing award at the Sundance Film Festival World Cinema Documentary Competition; The Lure, which won a special jury prize, also at Sundance; and United States of Love, which took the Silver Bear for Best Script at the 2016 Berlin International Film Festival. See the full program at the Istanbul Modern website. The price of entry is either 14TL for the day or free for museum visitors (with a museum entry ticket).
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Turkish surf-rock band Palmiyeler, whose name translates as "Palms", is coming to perform at Babylon Bomonti on April 26. Group members Mertcan Mertbilek, Tarık Töre, Rana Uludağ, and Barış Konyalı create a colorful and energetic performance filled with retro, seaside vibes and a Turkish twist that goes down as well in California as it does in Istanbul. Tickets from Biletix.
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American saxophonist and reed player Colin Stetson is coming to Istanbul for a performance at Babylon Bomonti on April 30. He has come to international attention for his work with bands such as Arcade Fire, Bon Iver, Tom Waits, David Gilmore, and The National. As well as saxophone, he als performs with clarinet, bass clarinet, French horn, and cornet. Though he performs mostly with rock and indie bands, Stetson is a technical and experimental musician, stretching his instruments to the limit with circular breathing, microtones, and percussive sounds. Tickets are available from Biletix.
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Artificial intelligence turns Ottoman archives into art
Back in 1968, Philip K Dick’s science fiction novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? asked whether intelligent robots could have genuine emotions. Technology is not quite there yet, but the collaborations at Google’s Artists and Machine Intelligence (AMI) program are making potentially revolutionary discoveries about the links between human and machine minds. AMI resident artist Refik Anadol has turned these tools to the archives at SALT Galata in his installation Archive Dreaming, which Dick might have titled, “Do Algorithms Dream of Alternative Histories?”
The SALT Galata archives include around 1.7 million documents, from fine art and portrait photographs to financial documents and architectural plans, ranging from the late-Ottoman era to the present day. This vast collection of data was inputted into the artificial intelligence (AI), which analyzed the visual qualities of each item and then assessed the relationships of similarity and difference between all 1.7 million items. The algorithm, called t-distributed stochastic neighbor embedding (t-SNE), then arranged the data according to these relationships, which can be visualized in either 2-D (a scrollable spectrum) or 3-D (a cloud-like cluster) forms.
Anadol’s installation at SALT Galata is in a circular room with a mirrored ceiling and floor, producing a recursive effect of infinite space both above and below. This represents the metaphorical channel of data flowing from the archives to the touchscreen system in the center of the room. With this touchscreen, visitors can travel through the archive as a 2-D or 3-D space. You can also zoom in to a single item, zoom out to the entire archive as a ball of dots and strings, or view the data at any scale in between to group the items by various degrees of similarity. Being able to see the entire archive at a glance, and the connections between any one document and all the others in the archive, is a major advantage of this system.
When not engaged by a human, the AI spontaneously “dreams” with the archive data that it has processed and possibly forms new connections and groupings that might never occur to a human mind.
Software expert Blaise Agüera y Arcas has noted that as AI is capable of recognizing classes of objects or faces by their common features, so AI can turn those classes into output, effectively “hallucinating” those objects onto neutral space. This is the principle behind Google’s Deep Dream software, which hallucinates faces and animals onto submitted images to create surreal results. Arcas has questioned the effect this artificial ability will have on human art in future—while the camera created a revolution by replicating the human eye, this software is beginning to replicate the functions of the human brain.
This hints at exciting possibilities in the context of the SALT Galata archives. In a talk with Vasıf Kortun, artist Anadol explained how we might use artificial intelligence to create alternative histories: “The method we use here is creating a game of opposites between two networks: a differentiator that tries to learn how to differentiate real documents from fake documents, and a producer that tries to create fake documents for the differentiator to recognize. Once we’ve trained the producer, we can use the same statistical rules to create new images and create documents that look real but actually never existed … like documents that might come from another version of history.”
Remembering John Freely, the memory of Istanbul
To anyone who has taken a cursory look at an English-language bookstore in Istanbul, the name John Freely will be familiar. Known affectionately as “the memory of Istanbul”, Freely was one of those cross-cultural wonders who flourish in Istanbul’s fertile atmosphere. Though the city is mourning his passing on April 20, his many works of history, travel, science, and biographies will live on in the minds of millions.
Born in the 1920s to two Irish immigrants in New York, Freely dropped out of school at age 17 to serve with the US Navy in the final years of World War II. However, he was a curious and motivated young man, educating himself with travel and history books from the public library. After the war, he entered Iona College thanks to the GI Bill and then earned a PhD in physics at New York University and continued his postgraduate studies at Oxford University.
A formative moment in Freely’s later love for Istanbul came from an old book in his grandmother’s attic in Ireland. Freely’s great-grandfather had brought this book back from Istanbul where he had been stationed during the Crimean War. The engravings of minarets perched on the seven hills of Istanbul bewitched the young man’s imagination, planting a seed that would bear great fruit.
When the opportunity came to teach at Istanbul’s Boğaziçi University—the first American university founded outside of the United States—Freely jumped on it. This was the start of Freely’s Istanbul explorations, which he carried out with tireless consistency, walking every street of Beyoğlu and Fatih, researching the history of every house, mosque, fountain, tomb, and church. Freely’s 1972 classic Strolling Through Istanbul: A Guide to the City reflects his own walks through the old city, encouraging travelers to get outside, off the typical tourist trails, and discover the storied nooks and crannies around every corner.
Freely also had a knack for picking idiosyncratic and little-known characters from Istanbul’s history and turning their lives into history books that could have been novels. One of these, Jem Sultan: The Adventures of a Captive Turkish Prince in Renaissance Europe, recounts the life of pretender to the Ottoman sultanate Cem Sultan, who stood against Sultan Bayezid II and ended up in the curious position of being protected by the pope in Rome. Another is The Lost Messiah: In Search of the Mystical Rabbi Sabbatai Sevi, tracing the biography of the seventeenth-century rabbi who claimed to be the messiah and then converted to Islam along with some of his disciples who formed the ethnically Jewish but religiously Muslim community known as Dönme.
Spending so many days pounding Istanbul’s streets for hidden stories, Freely gained a wealth of knowledge on the past and present city that few foreigners, or locals for that matter, could possess. One of Freely’s lesser-known but quite charming books is Stamboul Sketches: Encounters in Old Istanbul, which collects bits and pieces that were too eccentric to fit into his previous books. Subjects include the city’s street cats and their relationship with human residents, wandering dervishes and forgotten Sufi lodges, the folk singers known as aşık, the strange names given to seasonal winds in the traditional Turkish calendar, the items on sale in the city markets, the shape of headstones in cemeteries, and the calculation of Ramadan according to the lunar calendar.
Freely’s books are available in all good bookstores in Istanbul, including D&R, Remzi Kitabevi, Pandora Kitabevi, and Homer Kitabevi.
Etnospor Culture Festival
The Etnospor Culture Festival is an international celebration of Turkish, Turkic, and Central Asian sports and culture. Besides displays of mounted archery, oil wrestling, and other traditional Turkic sports, there will be Turkic tents, Central Asian delicacies, mehter military band shows, children's plays, horseriding for adults and children, and folk music concerts. This year the festival will take place on May 11-14 at Yenikapı Square. Find out more at the festival's website.
9th Istanbul Tanpınar Literature Festival
Istanbul's premier literary event, the Tanpınar Literature Festival, returns for its ninth year on May 6-11. The theme of this year's festival is "City and Dream", bringing 22 local and eight foreign writers together with readers and critics at various locations around the city: kargArt, the Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar Museum Library, Kuzguncuk Nail Bookstore, Grand Pera İstiklal, BabilMekan, and Kids Nook. Among the local writers, Ahmet Umit and İskender Pala are two familiar names, while The Joyce Girl writer Annabel Abbs, Bulgarian Alek Popov, Israeli Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, Danish Carsten Jensen, Greek Dimitris Sotakis, Egyptian Hamdy el-Gazzar, Mexican Jorge Zepeda Patterson, Danish Josefine Klougart, and Romanian Petre Craciun are visiting for the festival. Find out more at the festival website.
Fanzineist is Turkey's largest fanzine festival, celebrating these DIY publications through talks, showings, concerts, workshops, and film screenings. Zine culture - pronounced "zeen" like "magazine" - is an integral part of the underground music, literary, and art scenes in Turkey and Istanbul in particular. This festival will feature over 135 independent fanzine publishers from Turkey and internationally. Underground bands Noise Jam, Company Fuck, Poster-Iti, and Reptilians From Andromeda will perform at venues on the Asian side of Istanbul. Over three days from April 21 to 23, the venues Tasarım Atölyesi Kadıköy, Tight Aggressive, and Arkaoda Kadıköy will host this unique festival. Find out more about the full program at the festival website.
Fire of Anatolia dance academy: children of the sun
For most children, touring the world with a renowned dance troupe sounds like an impossible dream. But thanks to the Fire of Anatolia Dance Academy, which has just opened a school at Mall of Istanbul (with branches in İzmir, Bursa, and Antalya soon to come) young artists now have more access to dance education, and potentially, the stage.
Whether or not they are later recruited into the adult Fire of Anatolia troupe, artistic director Mustafa Erdoğan says every child benefits from dance education. “They learn folk dances, modern dance, flamenco, ballet – they develop an idea of all the disciplines of dance. In general, by learning the philosophy of dance they also improve their personal stance, their human and cultural foundation, and their lives outside of dance. It’s an important addition to their normal education,” Erdoğan says. The academy also puts on Kıvılcım shows, with children selected from the school’s students to make up the first all-children performances in Turkey.
Since 2001, Fire of Anatolia has performed in prestigious venues across the globe, from Kremlin Palace to the Pyramids of Giza. In these 15 years, Turkey has also found a new interest in dance, with popular television dance contests and more dance scenes in TV series and films. While European dance troupes often struggle to find male dancers, Erdoğan’s groups have an equal mix of genders. “Generally women are more drawn to dance. But in Turkey we have war dances, sword dances, and heroic dances like the Zeybek dance, so the character of these attracts men as well,” he explains.
As a combined shopping center and arts center, Mall of İstanbul is an important new location for the school. Dance workshops and performances around the center encourage many parents to sign their children up for classes. Thanks to the new schools, in the coming years, Erdoğan plans to bring Kıvılcım shows to larger arenas and later to stadium venues across Turkey.
For more details of children’s and adult classes see www.anadoluatesi.com
A Wai Lou
It might be the deep frying, a pinch of sugar added to almost every dish, or the balanced carb-protein ratio that make Chinese food the unquestionable king of comfort food. However, if you like to step outside your comfort zone every now and then and try something different, head to A Wai Lou, a little eatery tucked in between apartment buildings in Ortaklar Mahallesi in Mecidiyeköy.
Run by a Fujianese couple, the place serves both the usual suspects—sweet and sour chicken—and many more interesting dishes, which are highly appreciated by their native Chinese guests. If you are looking for a treat, start with the classic hot and sour soup, then go for the Peking duck, cold cucumber salad and Sichuan-style spicy tofu. If you are not quite the adventurous type, there are many rice- and noodle-based classics that we all know and love, and they do not disappoint either. Portions are generous and meant for sharing, and they are very reasonably priced.
A Wai Lou has been around for more than a year now, but you might have missed it for two reasons: unimpressive storefront, which you might pass unknowingly if you live in the area, or the lack of delivery to your neighborhood if you are located far from Mecidiyeköy. Like many Asian eateries, this one clearly puts food before decoration, with a modest and seemingly unfinished interior. Ordering in is the first thing that comes to mind as far as service is concerned, but the menu on Yemeksepeti differs slightly from what you find at the restaurant. To enjoy everything on offer we recommend calling the restaurant directly or simply taking the trip—it is only a 15-minute walk from the Sisli/Mecidiyekoy metro station.
- Neighbourhood Gem
- Quick Bite
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A Passage to Bollywood
Choreographer Ashley Lobo and the Navdhara India Dance Theatre group are performing "A Passage to Bollywood" at İş Sanat Cultural Center on May 23. The 22 dancers of the Bombay dance group bring the spirit of Bollywood to the stage, with all its color, romance, movement, song, and symbolism. Their show combines Western dance techniques with the philosophy and soul of the Indian dances that have captured so many hearts through the Bollywood screen. Tickets from Biletix.
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French jazz singer Cyrille Aimée is taking the stage at İş Sanat Cultural Center on May 8. After studying at the American School of Modern Music, Aimée performed as a street musician and in the clubs of Paris before making it to jazz festivals in the international arena. She won the vocal competition at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 2007 and the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition in 2012. This is the jazz singer's first appearance on the Istanbul stage. Tickets from Biletix.
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Argentinian dance group Che Malambo is being hosted by İş Sanat Cultural Center on May 5. Formed of the finest malambo dancers of Buenos Aires, these fourteen male dancers perform moves whose origins stretch back to the 17th-century "gaucho" cowboys of South America. Tickets are available from Biletix.
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Paris-based Lebanese singer Yasmine Hamdan is performing at Babylon Bomonti on May 19. Hamdan's musical career with Soapkills, hailed as the first indie-electronic group in the Middle East. As a solo singer she has appeared on many film soundtracks, including Jim Jarmusch's Only Lovers Left Alive. Her supple voice and engaging stage presence make her one of the most exciting stars to emerge from the Arab world in recent years. Tickets from Biletix.
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Los Angeles-based RnB duo Rhye is coming to perform at Babylon Bomonti on May 18. Composed of Canadian singer Milosh and Danish multi-instrumentalist Robin Hannibal, Rhye has gained acclaim for its soul-pop singles "Open" and "The Fall", which appeared online without details of the musicians and accompanied by sensual videos, and their performances at Coachella and Pitchfork festivals cemented this reputation. Tickets from Biletix.
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Coming to perform at Babylon for the first time, Malaysian singer Yuna draws influences from Lauryn Hill, Aaliyah, and Feist, and came to attention with the Pharrell Williams-produced single "Live Your Life". Her collaborations with names such as Usher and DJ Premier stand alongside eight of her own albums in Malaysian and English. Rolling Stone magazine voted her 2016 album Chapters the best RnB album of that year. See her live at Babylon on May 13 - tickets from Biletix.
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Psychedelic rockers Baba Zula are one of Turkey's best-known and most distinctive live acts, combining traditional Turkish instruments with reggae, electronica, surreal lyrics, and outlandish costumes. The band's Istanbul performances are always popular, attracting a fun-loving and open-minded crowd. Although Baba Zula has found international fame thanks to Fatih Akın's film Crossing the Bridge, the members remain in Istanbul, the city that fuels their art. See them live at Babylon Bomonti on May 12 - tickets from Biletix.
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Holistic Wellness Festival
Istanbul's premier hotel and recreation center Kemer Country Club is hosting a Holistic Wellness Festival, under the guidance of India's modern guru Mickey Mehta. This is the first time he is providing such a festival in Istanbul, expecting strong interest from the city's health-conscious and spiritually aware. By fusing the Far Eastern philosophies of Zen,Tao, and Tantra, Mehta has created a blend of ancient wisdom that is gaining popularity around the world as a life inspiration. He has found fame for his 24-hour swimming course and his "Emotional Wellness" training that aims to limit te damaging effects of negative emotions on the body. On May 20 from 10am to 6pm, Mehta will introduce his concepts and practice to the people of Istanbul, marking a fresh wave of health for its residents.
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Kösem Sultan: Magnificent Century continues
After the massive success of the series Muhteşem Yüzyıl (Magnificent Century), centering on Hürrem Sultan’s life in the harem of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent, the world has been eagerly anticipating a sequel. By becoming the first official wife of an Ottoman sultan and starting the period called the Sultanate of Women with her influence, Hürrem laid the ground for other powerful women in the empire. Now, her successor is on our screens in Magnificent Century: Kösem, which follows the equally glorious Kösem Sultan, played by Beren Saat. So the tale of slavery, rebellion, intrigue, romance, and war rolls on into the seventeenth century.
Much like Hürrem, little is known about Kösem’s early life. She was born somewhere in Eastern Europe, and most scholars believe that she was of Greek Orthodox origin. After the death of her father, the young girl—then known as Anastasya—came to the Ottoman governor’s palace in Bosnia as a slave. The governor recognized her beauty and intelligence, bought her, and sent her on to the chief black eunuch of the harem at Topkapı Palace.
What does kösem mean?
All newcomers to the harem were given new names, typically from Persian. Anastasya became Mahpeyker, meaning “moon-faced”. But in time Sultan Ahmed I bestowed on her a new name, Kösem, in reference to how she directed the other women like a kösemen—a goat that leads the herd. Those leadership qualities would be very useful in the years to come.
At this time, Sultan Ahmed I had come to the throne as a child, leaving his mother, Hundan Sultan, to effectively manage the empire. The sultan’s mother also chose the women presented to the sultan as consorts, and Kösem was one of the favorites. She gave birth to a son, Şehzade Mehmed, in 1605. From a simple concubine she rose to the title Haseki Sultan, meaning the mother of a prince who could potentially be the next sultan.
Unlike Hürrem’s relationship with Süleyman, there is no certainty about Kösem and Ahmed being officially married. One Ottoman document in the Venetian archives does describe Kösem as the sultan’s wife, but this may have been a diplomatic move to show the Ottomans in a more European light. Wife or concubine, over the coming years, Kösem bore him five sons and five daughters. Two of these sons became sultans, while the political maneuverings in the harem and intrigue for succession led to three of their deaths at a young age. In fact, her son İbrahim I was also killed while on the throne, leaving only one son who died of natural causes, Murad IV. Despite the pomp and splendor of the palace, Ottoman rulers were in a constant struggle to protect themselves and their children from murder by rival family members maneuvering for the throne.
Woman behind the throne
Just as Ahmed I’s mother had done when he was a child, Kösem took over the duties of the state when her young children came to the throne. The first of these was Murad IV in 1623. She took the sultan’s role at the Imperial Council meetings at Topkapı Palace, listening to the proceedings from behind the gold grille under the Tower of Justice. Murad died at the early age of 27, leaving the throne to his younger brother İbrahim.
İbrahim had spent his entire life imprisoned in the section of the harem known as The Cage, the rooms where princes were sometimes kept until they rose to the throne. By the time İbrahim took power, he had already seen his brothers Kasım and Süleyman killed by his older brother Murad. An evident disadvantage of The Cage, and the system of killing rival princes, was its effect on the surviving princes’ mental health. İbrahim lived in constant fear of assassination, which drove him to insanity. A supposed jinn-whisperer known as Cinci Hoca was called in to cure İbrahim’s madness, but instead enriched himself from the state coffers. The last straw was İbrahim’s decree for higher taxes to pay for a jewel-encrusted boat. Members of the court had him deposed and executed, reportedly with Kösem’s approval.
How did Kösem Sultan die?
Her third taste of power was as Mehmed IV’s grandmother, because the sultan’s mother was thought too young and inexperienced to be the valide sultan. In fact, Kösem’s daughter Turhan Hatice proved more ambitious than expected. To prevent her daughter from gaining too much influence, Kösem schemed to have another grandson placed on the throne. The exact circumstances of Kösem’s death are unknown. However, it seems probable that Turhan Hatice acted to prevent Kösem from deposing her son - meaning that Kösem herself fell victim to murder in the harem.
As well as her ruthless politics, Kösem was also known for her charitable works across the Ottoman Empire. Her largest monument in Istanbul is Çinili Camii (Tiled Mosque) in Üsküdar. Built in 1638, the mosque’s name derives from the large number of İznik tiles adorning its interior. These painted ceramics were the traditional decoration for high-status buildings, including Topkapı Palace and Sultanahmet Mosque. Unusually, Çinili Camii’s mihrab (prayer niche) and minbar (pulpit) are also ornamented with İznik tiles, which combine floral arabesques with painted calligraphy. Later, a madrasah, ablution fountain, water fountain, school, and hammam were added around the mosque.
Where is Kösem Sultan’s grave?
Kösem’s grave is beside that of Sultan Ahmet I in the mausoleum attached to Sultanahmet Mosque.
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Les Vents Francais
Classical group Les Vents Francais is coming to Cemal Reşit Rey Concert Hall on May 13. Les Vents Francais, meaning The French Winds, is composed of Emmanuel Pahud (flute), François Leleux (oboe), Paul Meyer (clarinet), Gilbert Audin (bassoon), and Eric Le Sage (piano). In this concert they will be performing works by Poulenc, Saint Saens, and Caplet. Tickets are available from Biletix.
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International classical group Romantic Trio is coming to perform at Cemal Reşit Rey Concert Hall on May 12. In this concert Boris Brovtsyn (violin), Bruno Schenider (cornette), and Eric Le Sage (piano) will present pieces by Beethoven (Horn Sonata) and Brahms (Violin Sonata No.3, Op.108 and Horn Trio, Op.40). Tickets are available from Biletix.
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Italy's filmic and musical show "Incantevole Itali" is coming to the Cemal Reşit Rey Concert Hall stage on May 5. Crossing paths with Fellini, Coppola, Zeffirelli and Visconti, this cinematic journey encompasses the great scores of Italian film under the conductor's baton of Stefano Mazzoleni, along with Tony Pattichio's specially prepared film, dances, and a live soprano. Tickets from Biletix.
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Istanbul has seen many neighborhoods become the trendy spot one for time. Asmalımescit was the place to go for drinks, then it handed that status off to Karaköy. Now, Arnavutkoy is the hip area to go, but could Yeniköy be next? If places like Avlu populate the streets of this waterfront neighborhood, why not?
If you are a Yeniköy resident or frequent visitor, you will definitely be a regular at Avlu Yeniköy. The restaurant has tastefully assembled an international menu with mostly Mediterranean delights and the wine list is expansive with local bottles from Thrace and Anatolia. The cocktails are divided into groups to help you find your pre- or post-meal beverage of choice. It is easy to lose track of time here while sipping cocktails and dining in the spacious outdoor seating area amid the Bosphorus breeze.
Another highlight of the restaurant is that our dear friends—dogs—have a special menu as well. Every Thursday between 1pm–7pm, our furry friends can accompany us while dining. What a perfect excuse to drop by Avlu after a long walk along the Bosphorus coast in Yeniköy.
- Business Lunch / Dinner
- Outdoor Seating
- Good for Groups
- Kid Friendly
- Pet Friendly
- Notable Cocktails
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A water sommelier? Turkey’s first explains
To introduce yourself as a water sommelier is to constantly have to explain your job. The relatively nascent profession is just beginning to take root around the world and, as Turkey’s first, Alican Akdemir often has to deal with people’s incredulity. He says the first thing people usually ask him is “Does water even have a taste?” His immediate response is always, “Do you drink tap water at your house?”
While water might be something we take for granted, it does indeed have a flavor that affects the way we taste other food and drink. Different levels and combinations of minerals, measured by Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), mean the flavors of the water itself vary depending on its origin. “Water can be sweet, bitter, sour, salty, and even metallic,” Akdemir says. “Personally I would prefer water that’s high in TDS because then I can discover different flavors from drinking it.”
These minerals can also enhance your dining experience, in sometimes surprising ways. In doing a small tasting with Akdemir, we sipped a bottle of sparkling water from Catalanonia and discovered its distinct, salty flavor. “Yes, it’s high in sodium,” smiles Akdemir. “I can recommend this water alongside steaks. You get salt from the water naturally and it helps you digest the meat quickly.”
You might know Akdemir’s name from Yeme İçme İşleri (Food and Drink Works) a group of four people who do pairings at various locations around town. At these events, Akdemir and his fellows have been highlighting flavors with creative combinations like pecans and stout beer, or by replacing rice in Japanese nigiri with sourdough bread. By actively participating in creating these pairings and working closely with a beer sommelier, Akdemir became more involved in how the nuances of water make big differences. A water sommelier would help the team take its next step in doing things differently.
So, the journey of Turkey’s first water sommelier began. After waiting one and a half years for the English-language version of the course, Akdemir traveled to Munich for his water training at Doemens Academy. His efforts made him one out of roughly one hundred certified water sommeliers in the world. Around 80-90 of are German. As Germany is a big producer and consumer of beer, and 90 percent of this brew is made up of water, the H2O taste is extremely important. But interest is expanding beyond German borders. “There were people from Korea, Spain and Italy [with me at the academy]. These people are working at Michelin-starred restaurants as wine sommeliers already, or at a brewery working on the quality of beer, or as baristas at coffee shops," says Akdemir. For these professions, water make all the difference.
Soon, you may even begin to find water menus at restaurants, along with the wine list. The water menu is not something new, nor is it to be undervalued – both for gastronomic and economic purposes. After German water sommelier Martin Riese prepared a water menu for Ray’s & Stark Bar in Los Angeles, there was a 500 percent increase in water sales at the restaurant in 2013.
For a Turkish restaurant or a meyhane, stocking a range of waters could be particularly interesting, as it plays a central role in the rakı drinking ritual: the water added in the popular spirit, the ice, and the water accompanying the drink. “We expect the ice and water we add in to be the same,” Akdemir says. But when it comes to the accompanying glass, things get personal. “With the water you drink with rakı, you can either neutralize the rakı flavor, or enhance the varying aromas from rakı gradually. It’s a matter of taste.” Some like their rakı sweet, others enjoy its bitterness, he continues. “There are different waters with diverse TDS-levels, that can help bring out the flavors people most love.” However, these different waters will only become available if people start asking for them. “It all depends on demand. If demand increases, the types of water on offer will also increase.”
In the future, Akdemir plans to have more water workshops based on rakı, coffee, beer, and more. By using these tastings and workshops, he plans to expand his outreach and message. But there is a social responsibility side to his mission as well. “Just because this country is rich when it comes to water doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t give water the importance it needs,” says Akdemir. “The supplies are not endless, and we should appreciate what we have.”
Cappadox festival is returning for its third year on May 18-21, with another packed programme of local and international music, expert cuisine, contemporary art, holistic activities, and of course treks in the breathtaking landscape of Cappadocia. This festival takes its inspiration from Cappadocia's amazing geological formations, which are already one of Turkey's top tourist attractions. YOu will find contemporary art installations among the rock towers known as fairy chimneys or in the region's caves, rock monasteries, and underground cities. This year, star musicians Mercan Dede, Acid Pauli, and Yasmine Hamdan are joined by many others on stage. Qi Gong and yoga classes will help you return to a centered state in this meditative environment. For the gastronomers there are open-air cooking lessons, teaching you to make the most delicious meals in nature. For the full program, see the Cappadox website.
The home life's twists and turns of a marvellous couple
The London-based Clout Theatre group presents its production of The home life's twists and turns of a marvellous couple at Sahne Pulcherie on April 15. This play, which is entirely without dialogue, uses music, sound, and lighting to convey the surreal world of a couple who live in a house whose walls are constantly changing position. Clout Theatre's productions have been performed in China, Russia, and Germany, as well as being shown at the Edinburgh Festival.
Tickets are available on the door after 6.30pm on the day of the performance, or from the Lamelif bookstore opposite the school on Çukurluçeşme Sokak. This play is in Turkish with English subtitles. Reservations: 0530 683 03 08