Istanbul’s vibrant Beyoğlu district, long the center of the city’s vibrant arts scene, is preparing to host the “Beyoğlu Culture Road Festival”, which is expected to be Turkey’s largest cultural event in terms of attendees.
The two-week festival, which kicks off with the opening ceremony of the new Atatürk Cultural Center (AKM) on Republic Day on October 29, will last until November 14. The large-scale event will be held at various venues, including Galataport – a large-scale urban redevelopment project in the historic passenger docks of the Karaköy district – the historic Tophane-i Amire building, the Galata tower, various cultural centers , museums and the AKM on almost 3.5 kilometers (2 miles) road.
Over 1,000 artists, 64 venues, 40 exhibitions and special projects, 75 concerts, 45 workshops and 25 artistic and literary conferences will take place as part of the festival. A special mobile application has been developed for the festival, on which users can receive information on upcoming events, find the closest to them, get information on locations, directions, the latest festival news and social media updates.
In an advertising event on Friday, Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy said he aimed to transform the festival, which is expected to be held twice a year in the fall and spring, into a international brand for Istanbul and Turkey. The main goal is to double the number of venues, artists and events for the festival next spring, Ersoy said.
The minister also expressed his hope that the festival will be an important step in the return to normal of cultural and artistic events in the post-pandemic era.
Ersoy said the festival route includes various projects undertaken by the ministry, municipalities and private actors. The ministry alone has invested more than TL 2.5 billion ($ 260 million) in five projects along the route, Ersoy said.
After the restoration of the Galata Tower, the iconic 14th-century building that now serves as a museum, the number of visitors quadrupled, matching the number of visitors to Topkapı Palace, the minister noted.
Another stop of the festival is the Tarık Zafer Tunaya Cultural Center, located near Tünel Square at the southern end of Istiklal Street. The building, a former municipal facility assigned to cultural events in the early 1990s and awarded by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IBB) to the Ministry of Restoration in 2017, was opened in June 2020.
The Istanbul Cinema Museum, which opened earlier in February in the old Atlas Cinema and Passage building on Istiklal Street, is among the festival venues. Stating that the restoration project has helped preserve an important architectural monument, Ersoy urged visitors to explore the entire building in addition to attending movie galas, festival screenings and exhibitions.
Another stop on the festival route is the Mehmet Akif Ersoy Memorial House, which was opened in March to honor the author of the Turkish national anthem who is celebrating his 100th birthday this year. The Memorial House, where Ersoy spent his last days, is located inside the 111-year-old Mısır Apartment (Egypt), one of the grandest buildings on Istiklal Street.
While AKM, the former center of Istanbul’s performing arts scene, will finally open its doors to visitors on October 29 after a 13-year hiatus for its restoration, demolition and reconstruction. Ersoy said President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has requested that a special composition be prepared to mark the opening, and Sinan’s opera, based on the life of the 16th-century architectural genius, will be performed for the audience. for the first time. “Composed by our esteemed professor Hasan Uçarsu, the libretto for this special opera belongs to Mr. Bertan Rona. It will be performed under the direction of the famous Italian director Vincenzo Grisostomi Travaglini”, declared the Minister.
Ersoy said the London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) would take the stage at AKM two days later, on October 31, and perform “Haydar Haydar” as the first piece by a Turkish composer in their repertoire. The LPO, considered one of the best in the world, will also perform the day before in the concert hall of the Presidential Symphony Orchestra (CSO) in the capital Ankara.
“Of course, there is more on this road. Paket Postanesi (old post office building reconstructed as part of the Galataport project), Tomtom street, Istiklal art gallery of Beyoğlu municipality, stage (Casa) Garibaldi, passage Odakule, Emek and Alkazar Cinemas, Refia Övüç Institute for Girls, Maksim (former renowned entertainment venue now rebuilt into a hotel), Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University Painting and Sculpture Museum, SALT Beyoğlu, Istanbul Culture and Arts Foundation (IKSV), Pera Museum , Arter (Koç Museum) and Gezi Park are other valuable places that are on Beyoğlu Cultural Route, ”said Ersoy, stressing that all public and private investments are important indicators of the importance, depth and value of the project.
The Korkut Ata Turkic World Film Festival will also be held as part of the Culture Road Festival, and 13 countries and autonomous republics ranging from Kazakhstan to Sakha (Yakutia) will participate in the event. The five-day event that kicks off on November 8 will bring together 100 actors, directors, ministers, bureaucrats and other officials from participating countries for screenings at the Atlas and Emek theaters and the Tarık Zafer Tunaya Cultural Center.
The digital exhibition of the artist Refik Anadol on architecture and new media arts at Alkazar, the digital exhibition “Monet & Friends” in Galataport, the exhibition “Fantaisie Végétale” at the French Cultural Center, the exhibition “Mirasın Izinde ”comprising calligraphy, tiles, water marbling and miniature works inspired by Seljuks at the Taksim mosque, the installation by French artist Bernard Pras composed of waste reinterpreting“ La Grenouillère ”by the famous painter Pierre-Auguste Renior to Maksim are some of the other events that Ersoy drew attention to.
The Minister noted that three separate events will feature selected works by young artists and students from high schools and fine arts faculties as part of the festival.