St Sophia by night: European night of the Museums

Your mood is different during the night time, right? So is the city’s mood, its streets’, monuments’, peoples’… A description of St Sophia in 6th century written by Paulos Silentarios* in 563: “Everything glitters- everywhere you cast your eyes, you behold a masterwork. Words are not enough to sing proper praise to this evening awakening. It seems as if a nocturnal sun is illuminating the majestic church.” and it goes on… After 16 centuries, on the night of the Museums 18th of May 2017, we...

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Bosphorus line: Rumelihisarı

This neighbourhood takes its name from the castle built in the 15th century by the Conqueror of the City Fatih as a base before he started the siege of the city of Constantin. First of all just before the neighbourhood of Rumelihisarı you will find the Aşiyan cemetery. All literary souls lie here under the same sky. The cemetery of Aşiyan, located between the neighbourhoods of Bebek and Rumelihisari, looks right at the Bosphorus. Aşiyan means ‘home’ in Persian. It is the eternal home to ones...

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De Chirico in Pera Museum, ‘The Mystery of the World’

I met De Chirico at an exhibition at the Pera Museum. I found it surprising to find out that his roots are here in Istanbul; they go back to the Ottoman era. His father, born in Greece and originally from Italy, moved to Constantinopolis to work in train construction, and lived in Buyukdere (close to Sarıyer in Bosphorus); his mother is from Izmir, a coastal city in the Southwest. He spent his childhood in Greece, and for the most of his life lived in Italy, a Mediterranean mosaic. One of the...

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Ai Weiwei exhibition in Sabanci Museum

The Sabanci Museum in Istanbul is hosting China’s internationally known artist Ai Weiwei. His exhibition ‘Ai Weiwei on porcelain’ is shown on three floors of the museum with several porcelain objects like broken plates, little stones, columns,… If you are not informed about his activism, his life story, his stance against the hegemonic power, the things you will see at the exhibition might not make much sense to you. On one of the floors you enter a room surrounded by walls on which you see...

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Karakoy: Istanbul’s art district

In the last period of the Ottoman Empire, towards the end of the 19th century, the place in today’s Karakoy known as Bankalar (Banks) Street, named after the word ‘voyvoda’ in the Slav language which means “lord, landlord,” was the place where the first banks as we know them today appeared; the bankers and money-changers in the old trade centers called ‘han’ used to keep the first samples of printed currency, ‘kaime’ in Ottoman, in safes. Today many art galleries have opened their door for...

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Suleymaniye Mosque

Situated on a hill looking at the Golden Horn and the hills of the Pera district across this mosque is considered as the most important Ottoman monument in Istanbul. The architect Sinan built it during the reign of Kanuni the Magnificent in mid 16th century when the Ottoman Empire was its highest. It carries the name of the Sultan Suleiman and his tomb along with his family’s is located at the same place. The tomb of Sinan is also here; actually the mosque is a complex of schools, baths,...

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Chora Museum and The Tekfur Palace

It means ‘in the country’ the word ‘Chora’ and it is both literally and symbolically ‘in the country’. Because it was situated outside the city walls during the time of the Constantinopolis it was called ‘in the country’; the word also refers to Jesus Christ as he is the ‘country’ or the ‘land of the living’. The Byzantine church dating back to 13th century was converted into a mosque during the Ottoman era and the mosaics inside were covered with wooden panels; after the fall of the Empire...

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Sokollu Mehmet Pasa Mosque, Ahirkapi

As you walk down the Sultanahmet Square you will both leave the tourist crowds behind for a while, also start to enjoy the narrow and colourful streets of Ahirkapi. This neighbourhood takes its name from being the place of the royal mews during the Ottoman era. One of the most beautiful mosques of Sinan is located here, the Sokollu Mehmet Pasha Mosque was built by the architect Sinan for the daughter of Sultan Selim the 2nd who was also the wife of the Vizier Sokollu Mehmet Pasha. The place...

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İstanbul walks, Tophane

We start our tour in Tophane with the Kilic Ali Pasha Mosque; dating from the 16th century, the mosque of Architect Sinan was made in his late age when he was ninety years old. They say it is the one that most resembles to St Sophia to which he admired his whole life and avoided copying. The mosque is said to be the first mosque built on sea and was named after the Admiral of the Fleet Kilic Ali Pasha. He was originally from Calabria and named Ochiali; he then converted to Islam and became...

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