Istanbul is where the East meets the West. And, where the people have melded traditional values with modern everyday habits. We decided to explore further the skillful incorporation of the new into the old around the city. So, we asked our local in Istanbul to give us some tips. Here are the findings we came upon.
Kiz Kulesi: Istanbul’s high-light
Translated to Maiden’s Tower, this Bosphorus landmark bears a 2,500-year long history. A past brimming with legends about princesses, empires, and devotion. Over time, the tower has served many purposes such as a tax office and a lighthouse. Today, after heavy renovations, the Maiden’s Tower is a museum and a classy restaurant. Shuttle boats offer regular services to and from the tower. So, you can admire the 360 views from the top throughout the day. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, Maiden’s Tower tops our list of romantic date nights.
Pera Museum: From hotel to gallery
Located in the cosmopolitan Beyoğlu district, the Pera Museum is Istanbul’s inspiring center of contemporary art. Therefore, Rembrandt, Miró, Picasso, Botero, Frida, and Goya are just some of the renown artists whose work has been displayed here. But the 19th-century building that accommodates the museum is a piece of art itself. The art deco façade belonged to the historic Bristol Hotel. Yet, it’s in flawless balance with the masterly revamped interior. Take advantage of the long Fridays with free entry from 6 PM to 10 PM.
Soho House: Classy Istanbul
Istanbul’s branch of the exclusive Soho House club for creative people found its home in the 19th century Palazzo Corpi on İstiklal Avenue. Until 1906 this luxury building with rosewood doors and acclaimed paintings was the residence of an influential shipbuilder. Then, it became the US embassy until the consulate’s relocation in 2003. The recent restoration has inventively preserved the glory of the vast spaces, high ceilings, and neoclassical marble façade. Don’t fret if you are not an artist and cannot secure a Soho House membership. You can still dine at the world-famous Italian Cecconi restaurant, in the olive tree-graced courtyard.
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SALT Galata: Work, play and eat
The old headquarters of the Imperial Ottoman Bank on the historic Bankalar Caddesi (Avenue of Banks), is the home of SALT Galata. SALT is a state-of-the-art dialogue and research center. It has exhibition and coworking spaces and a loaded library. The building, which was inaugurated in 1892 has been renewed to meet the center’s aesthetic and practical needs. As a tribute to the building’s history, the basement showcases the bank’s 100-year-old archives. You can also have access to the bank’s original treasury. Don’t miss the rooftop restaurant for the uninterrupted views to the Golden Horn and the extensive wine list. If you are a bookworm, spend some time at the well-stocked Robinson Crusoe 389 bookstore.
We wouldn’t be able to find these cool makeovers if it weren’t for our amazing local, Virginie!
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