CULTURE – ART – ENTERTAINMENT AND ACOMMODATION
İstanbul caters to all kinds of tastes from fish and bread to luxurious restaurants and entertainment sites.
TULIP, ERGUVAN AND SPRING IN İSTANBUL
The beginning of spring in İstanbul is announced first by the sudden arrival of tulips and then by the erguvans (Judas-tree) with a multitude of colors. In one respect, Ottoman art means tulip, hyacinth, carnation, and rose, but for İstanbul, erguvan and tulips are remembered.
hough it changes according to climate conditions, spring begins in İstanbul, a city of flowers, by the blossoming of tulips around the end of March. While they fill the city with their many bright colours, the erguvan’s purple flowers blossom in the middle of April. Although the erguvan is a natural plant of İstanbul, the tulip was first brought from Middle Asia to Anatolia, then to İstanbul by the Turks. In fact, Mehmet the Conquerer grew tulips as a hobby. During several periods of history, growing tulips became a passion among the palace and the Ottoman people. One period was later called the ”Tulip Age”. This passion continued by the development of the ”İstanbul Tulip”. By the end of the empire, the ”İstanbul Tulip” had disappeared.
The adventure of the tulip in Europe began during the reign of Süleyman the Magnificent. The ambassador of the Holy Roman German Empire liked this flower and took a tulip bulb to his friend Cluius, a botanist. After this, the tulip spread all over Europe. Over time, this tulip love turned into a madness in Holland. It became the symbol of wealth and prestige. Holland created an industry of tulips and earned fame from this.
Today, the municipality continues working to enliven the ”İstanbul Tulip.” The municipality plants tulip bulbs and beautifies İstanbul with tulips every spring. When tulips decorate the city in several squares such as Sultanahmet Square and main streets, such as in Emirgan Park on the Bosphorus, the tulips present a color show for their observers.
When the calendar shows the middle of April, İstanbul erguvan season. We can see that the erguvan is a typical flower of the slopes of the Bosphorus because it can be seen mostly there. The Turkish name erguvan means the name of a colour in Persian. The erguvan’s origin is Palestine. The erguvan in İstanbul, especially throughout the Bosphorus’s unique blue and green, has become a symbol of revival. The best way to see the erguvan is from a ferry on the Bosphorus.
nternational festivals are organized every year by the İstanbul Culture and Art Foundation under the sponsorship of different firms. These festivals, where world-famous local and foreign artists and groups present their films, theatre, classical music, or jazz music, are organized in various places particularly in the Atatürk Culture Center (AKM), Cemal Reşit Rey Culture Center (CRR), Rumelihisarı, the Open Air Theatre, Hagia Irini, and Sepetçiler Kasrı. Almost all of İstanbul becomes a place for participants with its closed and open areas in the İstanbul Bienal. Antrepo No.3, İstanbul Drapery Bazaar, Santralistanbul, and the old Galata Bridge are places where local and foreign artists present their work in fields such as drawing, sculpture, and other fields and encourage people to join in their work.
The following organizations take place every year:The following organizations take place every year:
•International İstanbul Film Festival in April,
•International İstanbul Theatre Festival in May,
•International İstanbul Music Festival in June,
•International İstanbul Jazz Festival in July.
Festivals of music, film, art and photography are also organized by private institutions like IKSV, Aksanat, İşsanat, Yapı Kredi Kültür, ENKA, Borusan and Tekfen Vakfı in winter and summer.
arious concerts are organized in open and closed areas with local or international festivals all through the year. Atatürk Culture Center (AKM), Cemal Reşit Rey Culture Center (CRR), Rumelihisarı, the Open Air Theatre, İstanbul Show and Congress Center, Parkorman, Bostancı Show Center, Abdi İpekçi Show Center, and Public Education Centers of many districts are the main places hosting these concerts. Some locations with historical value, other sites with interesting characteristics, district squares, and platforms built on the sea also host concerts and shows.
CINEMA AND THEATRE
The center of cinemas in İstanbul is İstiklal Avenue. Festival movies are generally shown in cinemas in Beyoğlu. Premiers are also shown in these cinemas. Movies are shown simultaneously with Europe and all other cinemas of the city. Matinees, evening, and morning showings are offered. There are also cinema complexes in most big shopping centers. You can also watch movies from your car in summer cinemas.
The İstanbul State Theatre, City Theatre and private theatres offer plays from June to the end of September. Plays by local and foreign playwrights are shown in Culture Centers, Public Education Centers, and private theatres.
Consumer products and services need to be promoted as soon as possible in a competitive environment that becomes more and more compelling. Fairs in different fields such as food, textiles, furniture, industry, souvenirs, paper, printing, informatics, leather, and construction materials are organized in İstanbul throughout the year for this purpose.
THE BATHHOUSE CULTURE: TÜRK HAMAMI
Water is sacred in all religions and it purifies the body and the soul. Bathing is a tradition That dates back to the Romans and Turks turned it into a style combined with the cleanliness and hygienic rules instructed by Islam. When the word “hamam” (bathhouse) which meant the place where you wash yourself, was added to the concept, this style was called a Türk hamamı (Turkish bathhouse). It became a culture with masseurs, pattens, bath stones, and marble washing platforms. In the past, bathrooms in houses were primitive and there was no running water inside houses. Thus, bathouses were an essential part of the social life, especially of Ottoman women, who lived a closed life. Rinsing the baby at the end of his/her first forty days of life, evaluation of young girls by mothers of young men for marriage, and bridal baths prior to weddings were all social activities of the bathhouse culture. Stuffed vegetables (dolma), meatballs and desserts would be prepared and the level of entertainment would be enhanced with dancers and musicians. Women of wealthy families would also bring their servants with them. Their pattens and cloths were made from valuable materials and they would leave generous tips.
This bathhouse was commissioned by Nurbanu Sultan, mother of Sultan Murad III, in 1584. Its architect was Mimar Sinan. It is a double bathhouse with separate sections for men and women.
Tel: (0212) 520 18 50
This bathhouse was commissioned by Sultan Mahmud I and built in 1741 to raise funds for Hagia Sophia Mosque. Its architect is unknown. It is a double bathhouse with separate sections for men and women. It is the last big bathhouse inside which the baroque style was applied.
Tel: (0212) 522 24 24
Hagia Sofia Hurrem Sultan Hamam
Hagia Sophia Hurrem Sultan Hamam was built in 1556 by the architect Sinan, with the order of Sultan Suleiman the Magnigicent to honor his wife Hurrem. This ottoman styl bathouse was designed in the form of a double hamam and is 75 m. in length. The Hagia Sophia Hurrem Sultan Hamam is the perfect place for experiencing the traditional bathhouse with impeccable service and Ottoman hospitality.
Tel: 90 212 517 35 35
This bath was built in 1557. The eight marble pillars surrounding the marble washing platform are spectacular.
Tel: (0212) 520 34 10
This 15th century bathhouse, also known as Şifa Hamamı, was built as a double bathhouse. Although it is the oldest bathhouse in Üsküdar, it has preserved its authenticity up to the present.
This was built as a public bazaar bathhouse in 1715 in the classical Turkish bathhouse architecture. The main lines of the design were preserved during the restoration in 1965. It offers services for both foreign and local tourists.
Tel: (0212) 252 42 42
NIGHT LIFE IN ISTANBUL
As vibrant as it is during the day, Istanbul is every bit as vivacious by night as well. Walking down Istiklal Avenue in the wee hours of the morning on a weekend, you will still hear joyous laughter and toasting coming from Nevizade Street where clubs and bars are lined up chock-full of locals and foreigners. If you are into the party scene, famous DJs will be awaiting you at the most fashionable clubs on the shore of the Bosphorus; you can dance into the night as they spin under the lights of beautiful Istanbul. With its numerous jazz and blues clubs, traditional Turkish entertainment, discotheques, lounges and event spaces Istanbul lets you pick and choose your entertainment, a different sort for each night.
Turkish people enjoy eating, drinking and dancing. On weekends you will see full bars and tea gardens with women and men of all ages enjoying their tea, coffee, beer or raki.
Nights can be long and enjoyable in Istanbul. You just need to find the right place that matches your tastes. Here we will recommend some places where that you can visit at night in Istanbul.
Turkish Night Show
This show is prepared for tourists but brings to you what the Turks themselves enjoy most in parties. It is a cultural event which will give you an idea of how Turks amuse themselves.
umkapı is the most famous traditional entertainment site of İstanbul where you can drink rakı with fish and sample a rich range of appetizers. Kumkapı is comprised of bistros that cover a great part of the district. Although they are closed places, all bistros place chairs and tables on the street and entertain their guests there. Rakı accompanied with a rich menu selection and authentic music performed by local artists are important characteristics of Kumkapı.
Nevizade Sokak in the district of Beyoğlu also offers visitors a similar possibility of dining and entertainment. A menu of fish, two appetizer dishes and double rakı costs 50 TL at most, although fish prices change from season to season in these two locations.
There are smaller places that offer similar entertainment in different districts of İstanbul.
If you prefer bars for entertainment Beyoğlu, Nişantaşı or Ortaköy are the most appropriate areas to visit.
The Janissary Band, which is the oldest alaturca military band in the world, is the name given to the military band, comprised of percussion and wind instruments. The Janissary Band performs concerts in the Military Museum every week and at the gates of Sultanahmet and Dolmabahçe Palace in summer months.
”Hindrellez,” which is a relatively new entertainment event, is celebrated in the district of Ahırkapı in Sultanahmet on the night of the 5th of May every year. Musicians and dancing people fill the streets during this festival, which represents the celebration of spring. Traditional jumping over the fire and nahıl (wish tree) decoration goes on till the morning with the music performed by the Local Ahırkapı Gypsy Orchestra.
THE RITUAL OF MEVLEVI ORDER: SEMA
Known to the west as Whirling Dervishes, the Mevlevi Order was founded by Mevlana Rumi in the 13th century. The Order wrote of tolerance, forgiveness, and enlightenment. They survive today as a cultural brotherhood. They are not theatrical spectacles but sacred rituals. The ritual of the Mevlevi sect, known as the sema, is a serious religious ritual performed by Muslim priests in a prayer trance to Allah. Mevlevi believed that during the sema the soul was released from earthly ties and was able to freely and jubilantly commune with the divine. Dervish literally means “doorway” and is thought to be an entrance from this material world to the spiritual, heavenly world. The Whirling Dervishes played an important part in the evolution of Ottoman high culture. (Picture 1,2,3)
Whirling with the Universe
While the sema rituals of the Mevlevi order are performed occasionally in Yenikapı and the Galata Mevlevihane, the “Turkish Mystic Music & Dance” group performs a beautiful program accompanied with instruments of Sufi music three days a week in Sirkeci Train Station.
The Mevlevi Sufi order was founded in the 13th century by Celaleddin Mevlana Rumi. Mevlana means guide or master and Rumi means from the Sultanate of Rum. Rumi, the son of a famous Islamic preacher went to stay in Konya in 1240. Four years later Rumi met Mehmet Shemseddin Tebrizi, one of the disciples of his father, who had a great influence on him. Celaleddin became his follower. However, in 1247 Rumi’s own disciples, fearing Tebrizi’s influence on their master, killed him. This shocked Rumi and so he renounced the world and plunged himself into meditation. During this time he wrote his great poetic work, the Mathwani, and also various Rubai and Ghazal poems, which are compiled into the Divan-ı-Kabir. In 1273 Rumi died. It was his son who organized his disciples and with Konya as the center, formed the brotherhood of whirling dervishes, the Mevlevi. During the Ottoman rule, the dervishes exercised considerable influence on the social, economic and political lives of the people. Many promising poets and musicians came up during this time and many of the members of this order served as officials of the Caliphate.
Along with the development of tourism, various accommodation that suit all income levels as well as all interests have been established in İstanbul. Hotels and guesthouses can be found everywhere, particularly in places where you can have a beautiful view of the city. Historical structures were turned into hotels in Sultanahmet, in the historical peninsula of İstanbul. Hotels with terraces generally attract attention. There are luxurious boutique hotels with every possible comfort in them and guesthouses which are relatively cheaper in the district.
Five-star hotels are generally located in Taksim, Beşiktaş and Levent. They usually have a good view of the Bosporus. These hotels also include sports and health care facilities, swimming pools, Turkish bathhouses, conference rooms, and children clubs. All types of conferences and organizations can be organized in these hotels.
There are also other hotels that meet only basic needs and suit lower income levels. They are usually located around transportation centers like train stations and bus stations. They offer only bathrooms and lodging. Accommodations other than big hotels set different fees according to specific seasons. The period between April and October is considered to be the summer season and fees are higher during this time. It is advisable to reserve a room before special days like the New Year or festivals.
Wooden Ottoman houses of the 19th century in Sultanahmet Soğukçeşme Street were restored and turned into accommodation in special status under the name “Ayasofya Konakları” (Hagia Sophia Mansions). These buildings have all kinds of comforts inside while their wooden interior is preserved.