A nation with cultural connections to ancient empires, Turkey has been an associate member of the European Union since 1963 and it is in process of negotiating its accession to the EU. The country aims to embrace Western-inspired progress and modernisation while staying true to its rich Eastern culture and unique character.
Turkey’s most populous city, Istanbul aims to be a modernising economic, cultural, and historic centre. The only city in the world to exist on two continents – Europe and Asia, Istanbul has been the connection hub between the East and the West for centuries. Divided in two by the Bosphorus Strait, which runs through the heart of the city, Istanbul seems to symbolise Turkey’s ongoing dilemma – whether to step further towards the West or stay closer to the East.
Both archaic and modern, religious and secular, conservative and progressive, Istanbul seems to be a city of contrasts. Ancient architecture contrasts with innovative venues and modern art galleries. Turkey’s markets may be an opportunity for tourists to get a glimpse of the country’s culture. The Grand Bazaar showcases a variety of textiles, locally made jewelry, and housewares, while Hagia Sofia, a former Byzantine cathedral, then mosque, and now museum, stands tall as a symbol of the city. Tourists to Istanbul may visit the Museum of Modern Art which aims to embrace a global vision to collect, preserve, exhibit and document works of modern and contemporary art and make them accessible to art connoisseurs. With a theatre, research library, a panoramic restaurant, and an extensive archive, the Museum of Modern Art may offer an ideal introduction to Istanbul’s culture and arts.
Between July 1st and July 31st, Istanbul is hosting the Shopping Fest, one of Turkey’s biggest tourism, shopping and urban branding projects. The festival may offer a chance for discount shopping on world-renowned brands and exclusive campaigns. The organisers aim to promote Istanbul as a hub for culture, gastronomy and entertainment as well as to catapult Istanbul in the top travel destinations in the world by amplifying its shopping potential. Shopping Fest aims to bring the modern and traditional together and to deliver an experience unique to Istanbul.
While the Grand Bazaar, one of the most important trade centres throughout the centuries, is perhaps one of the most traditional shopping centres in the world, the Istanbul Shopping Fest, on the other hand, aims to revive and offer a fashionable edge to the tradition of shopping which is an essential part of Turkish culture.
In a city where history may appear to uncover at every corner, the arts and cultural scene seems to be constantly growing. The Istanbul International Arts & Culture Festival may be one of the more formal gatherings for free art exhibits and conversations around the city’s dynamic culture, literature, and architecture.
Turkey’s president Erdoğan aims to support urban redevelopment projects which may support the country to step forward to the future. There seem to be plans for a historical museum and Europe’s largest opera house to be built in Taksim, Istanbul; the project aims to preserve the historical fabric of the area and reflect Istanbul’s rich historical past and aesthetics. Blending a distinctively rich history with creative contemporary art, design, and gastronomy, Istanbul may seem to get the best of both worlds, East and West. While modern Turkish society may seem liberal, progressive, and easygoing, staying true to its roots may offer it the distinction it may need to stand out as a world player on the international travel arena.
How may Turkey reinvent itself while staying true to its culture?