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(2022 - Spring/Summer Issue)


Famous for breathtaking architecture, local cuisine and a welcoming hospitality from local İstanbulians, Türkiye’s largest city of İstanbul has now morphed into an unofficial capital of hip and the ultra-cool.

Located in northwest Türkiye at the crossroads of two continents where East meets West, İstanbul’s unique setting along the narrow Bosphorus Strait between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara gives the ancient metropolis a rich character that aptly makes this must-see city a sui generis centre of arts and culture. Let’s discover!

Neighbourhood Dynamism

In fact, İstanbul is also a megalopolis, comprising numerous neighbourhoods, each with a strong penchant for the arts! In the up-and-coming areas of Yeldeğirmeni or Bomonti, a.k.a. “the neighbourhood that never sleeps,” these dynamic artsy hotspots have blossomed into new hip hubs ready for exploration. For those keen on seeing the old and new converge, head to Balat and Fener located on the European side of İstanbul. These historic districts surrounded by religious and architectural landmarks are local gems known for their colourful houses and cobblestone alleys. While there, visit the main market, explore vintage stores, design and antique shops and craft workshops. Later, enjoy a coffee break at either a traditional Turkish coffeehouse or a hyper-cool, brand-new micro café where you can get a cup of coffee roasted flat white or various cold brews.

A Thriving Scene of Arts, Design and Culture

In this city of over 15 million residents, İstanbul is home to promising young designers and artists. Here, amazing arts as well as fashion and design are largely inspired by the urban heritage of Asian and European influences meshing together. And with the city’s funky, contemporary side, you can easily view impressive artwork and live stage performances.

On the Bosphorus in a former warehouse, art lovers observe major installations by contemporary Turkish artists at the İstanbul Modern, the country’s first private museum of modern and contemporary art. If you prefer exclusive special events, be sure to peruse İstanbul’s fabulous year-round calendar of events and festivals with films, concerts, jazz performances, performing arts and much more. Events range from orchestral recitals and theatre plays in thousands-year-old cathedrals to contemporary performing arts and jazz improvisations.

In addition to renowned world-class museums like the notable Topkapı Palace, the fanciful Dolmabahçe Palace and the trifecta of museums, İstanbul Archaeological Museums that houses over 1 million artifacts in three venues, you can also seek out private galleries on a smaller scale with themed and temporary exhibitions.

The prestigious yet free-of-charge İstanbul Biennial, which occurs this fall, is the perfect meeting point for artists and art enthusiasts, as thousands of spectators are expected to gather in the city.

Every year, art aficionados and professionals attend Contemporary İstanbul, the city’s leading art fair. It is also possible to find a wide range of other events for art lovers in surprising places that display imaginative works of emerging artists and masters. From glamorous party spots to converted Ottoman power stations, art events are held in various locations across the city.

Big Guns of the Art Scene

The major art galleries are based in Nişantaşı, a modern European neighbourhood that has evolved into the symbol of a new İstanbul. It’s here where all the new and local Turkish brands boldly show off as local and international artists celebrate their premiere cutting-edge modern and contemporary artworks. There are also a few galleries offering collections from classical Turkish painters as well as numerous auction houses. In this open-air area of boutiques, upscale restaurants and cafés, Nişantaşı is a thriving neighbourhood that combines glamour with an edgy hipness. So, it’s the place to spend a stylish afternoon or a luxurious evening.

In Karaköy, Galata and Çukurcuma neighbourhoods, near the brand-new and impressive Galata port facility, some small-scaled hip galleries and contemporary art spaces aim to develop the new generation of Turkish artists by focusing exclusively on emerging talents. They seek to represent artists who are at the early stages of their career, across a wide array of mediums from painting to photography and sculpture. Full of antique shops, creative souvenir shops and street delicacies, these quarters are perfect to explore the Turkish contemporary arts scene while wandering in backstreets.

These diverse districts of İstanbul are a treasure trove for the urban arts explorer.

Travel Planner

İstanbul is the new cool when it comes to arts. For more information on how to join these new artistic quests and for more travel information about İstanbul, Türkiye please visit goistanbulturkiye.com.

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