I’m looking so much forward going to Brazil next month: Two weeks Portuguese at a school in Rio de Janeiro including living like a teenage exchange student with a family.
Learning abroad means not exclusively increasing command of a language; it allows you to learn and grow and look at
things from a different perspective.
Here during my first language course in Rome on a visit to the GNAM – Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna:
Standing on “Passi” by Alfredo Pirri, consisting of a huge broken mirror on the floor
of the Sala delle Colonne, the entrance hall.
On this occasion I’d like to look back at my previous language classes that took place in Italy and Turkey – and share some precious, fun and a bit quirky stories with you:
If you choose to pin this post, please use this picture (and check my Pinterest boards)
Wondering why I’ve chosen this motive? Well, it’s a sculpture by Pietro Canonica, who died in 1959 in Rome. A museum at the Villa Borghese is showing his vast work – Canonica in his time made busts and statues of many great men e. g. a equestrian stuatue of Mustafa Kemal Pascha aka Atatürk standing in Izmir.
I like how Italy and Turkey are united in Pietro Canonica’s naturalistic work.
Coming to Istanbul, everybody is standing in line to see the antique masterpieces at Hagia Sophia, the Topkapı Palace, or – if they venture away from Sultanahmet – the very ‘French’ Dolmabahçe.
But hardly anyone comes to Istanbul to see the young, fresh, and wild Turkish contemporary art. Big mistake!
In my last post “24 hours in Istanbul” I’m recommending to visit the Elgiz Museum and I think it absolutely deserves that I dwell upon it a little longer.
Homage to Masters of Sculpture, against the backdrop of Istanbul’s financial center view, Photo: Kayhan Kaygusuz
You know like when travelling you keep getting asked what your plans are and what you gonna see?! So when I answered that I was going to see this art patron’s private museum, everybody was all awestruck: ‘Ah, Sakıp Sabancı!’. And indeed Sakıp Sabancı – coming from a highly wealthy family – has also a private collection in Istanbul, but this one, housed in the former family mansion on the banks of the Bosporus, is rather famous for calligraphy, china, and the family’s furniture and decoration. So Sakıp Sabancı is very famous and popular and said to have been a great philanthrope. While it’s true that he donated to many institutions, at the same time he invested in really bad corporations. At his dead in 2004 he left 2.65 billions of Euro and was #147 on the Forbes list of billionaires.
But I didn’t want to go to the Sabancı collection, I had to see the Proje4/Elgiz museum, Istanbul’s first museum for contemporary art – founded in 2001 by Drs. Sevda and Can Elgiz.
Although Dr. Can Elgiz is – as far as I know – not on the Forbes list, I think we don’t have to worry about his financial situation: In spite of everything, Istanbul is booming, and Dr. Can Elgiz is not only an architect, he also owns companies building skyscrapers and luxury housing.
So Dr. Elgiz seems to be wealthy. Very wealthy.
And he seems to be guarded. Very guarded.
And Dr. Can Elgiz collects art and has an excellent taste; which is not automatically connected, however, in his case it is.
Can Elgiz’ amazing lack of vanity makes it difficult writing about him: One sentence on his person on Wikipedia, nothing on the founder on the museum’s website; the art – and the art alone – is in focus.
According to Can bey’s wife, political scientist Dr. Sevda Elgiz, the couple started collecting in the 1980s and owns an eclectic collection including Gilbert & George, Cindy Sherman, Tracey Emin, Jan Fabre, Tony Cragg, Sol LeWitt, and Jonathan Meese.
A really exquisite selection.
How I know this? Because the couple opened a gallery, and I’ve been there. I have the feeling that not too many tourists share this experience: Dr. Elgiz’ company is in the financial district of Istanbul, the pretty secluded neighborhood of Maslak, and he has chosen this zone for his museum, too.
You need to go by subway all the way up to ITÜ Ayazağa station and then walk along construction sites – didn’t I say Istanbul was booming?! – and cross a huge parking lot, all the time asking yourself whether you’ve lost your way because it seems improbable that there is an art venue in this unappealing surroundings. However, once you reach the unimposing building…there they are: overwhelming works of Turkish and international artists are greeting you. And since Dr. Elgiz is the real philanthrope, entrance is free.
To top things up – metaphorically and literally – on the flat, plain roof is a lot of space for the temporary sculpture exhibitions. This year, from July 4 to October 28, the 9th exhibition takes place, and again the curators chose the best from the best.
Each one of the exhibitions was assembled according a motto – e. g. artists over 40, artists under 40, artists born between 1952 and 1962 etc.; this year it’s “Homage to masters of sculpture”, a well ambitious theme.
Halil Daşkesen: Articulate, Meliha Sözeri: Cave,and Mahmut Aydın: Female Don Kişot in front of the backdrop of the financial district’s skyscraper skyline. Photo: Kayhan Kaygusuz
What do the artists have in common? Besides being excellent, you mean? They are Turkish, that’s key, Dr. Elgiz acts local. Some are on show for the first time, some, like e. g. Caner Şengünalp or Mahmut Aydın have already participated in former issues.
Levent Ayata: I’m Bored, Tanzer Arığ: Dreaming on the Clouds II, Halil Daşkesen: Articulate, Uğur Cinel: Door, Mahmut Aydın: Female Don Kişot Photo: Kayhan Kaygusuz
Mahmut Aydın: Not covering up
I might be wrong, as a matter of fact I hope I’m wrong, but I have the impression that this year’s sculptures are less political, less audacious; let’s hope I’m wrong. It would be a shame if the wonderful Proje4/Elgiz Museum lost its grit’n’edge.
I took the picture on the left showing Mahmut Aydın’s pretty daring sculpture on my visit to the 5th issue that promoted young Turkish sculptors under 40. That show presented a noticeable number of works dealing with feminist and freedom subjects. This year, I don’t see much of this sociological and political impact.
Please read in this postwhy my stay on the roof during the a. m. 5th terrace exhibition was a tad bit longer than planned and how I got the nice exhibition catalogue for free.
Besides the Terrace Exhibition the Elgiz rearranged works from their impressive collection under the motto – and the title – “Grey and Beige Portfolio”. Although the title doesn’t sound very promising, don’t let it fool you: there are big shots like Eric Fischl, David La Chapelle, and Erwin Wurm, currently Austria’s top seller with big shows in Duisburg and the Venice Biennal and individual pieces all over the place (I just hope that he never becomes another Keith Haring, whom I used to like a lot until they started to decorate basically everything with his iconic stick-men).
Next to these internationally renown names there are also many not so famous artist to look out for.
You see – if you are an art enthusiast like I am, the trip to inhospitable Maslak is absolutely worth it!
The current temporary exhibtion “Grey and Beige Portfolio” with works from the vast collection the Elgiz started in the 1980s. Photo: Elgiz Museum of Contemporary Art
By the way, once I’m on it: The art gallery ‘Istanbul Modern’ at the banks of the Bosporus in Karaköy is definitely worth a visit, too.
Yet here comes a new issue of the “24 hours in…” series, designated to transform a – maybe forced – stay like a layover into a short extra-vacation. Of course these itineraries – one for a sunny and an alternative for a rainy day – are great not only for layovers but for any kind of a brief stay, e. g. on your way to a beach vacation on the Turkish coast. But since Turkish Airlines often offers the best prices when going to South East Asia (and I heard that sometimes they might even be your best bet going to Colombia), a short stay anywhen soon might be quite probable.
Istanbul at its best: Fishermen on the Galata bridge in front of the magnificent backdrop of Yeni Cami.
Meydanı – Sultanahmet (on the Hippodrome)
Open daily from 9 a. m. to 5 p. m.
Phone: + 90 – 212 – 518 18 02
? Getting Downtown and Back
The Tünel Train is not only one of Istanbul’s landmarks:
Although it’s the oldest and shortest train line, because
of the steep ascent its services are highly appreciated.
There is nothing easier than getting from the Atatürk Airport to any place in the greater Istanbul area. Presuming that you’ll stay only 24 hours, the best way is to book yourself in a hotel in the Aksaray area since then you don’t have to change trains: Just take the Métro M1 from Havalimanı to Aksaray.
First you should get an “Istanbulkart“, a sort of credit card that you have to tap up with an amount of your choice and eventually you use your credit on all public transport. One ride will cost you between 1.60 TRY and 2.95 TRY depending on the distance. Following this itinerary – including the rides from and to the airport – you will need about 10 to 15 TRY – this is including the initial amount of 6 TRY that includes 4 TRY fare credit.You can tap up at any time, and fares are significantly cheaper using this card instead of tokens.
? Morning Activities
If you choose the below stated hotel or another accommodation around Aksaray station, you find yourself in the perfect spot to go to all the places recommended.
So grab your Istanbulkart and off you go to Tophane station by tram T1 (towards Kabataş) – of course leaving at Aksaray.
The building, the garden, the views –
everything is romantic at Dolmabahçe
The foundation Dolmabahçe palace is built on was put there by Sultan Ahmet I. beginning of the 17th century. Before there was a bay. Then in the beginning of the 19th century Sultan Abdülmecit I. ordered to build this palace according to occidental royal architecture like e. g. Versailles. Finished in 1853, it was the Sultan’s main residence till the end of the Ottoman Empire. Turkey’s first president Kemal Atatürk died at Dolmabahçe on November 19, 1938.
Besides the palace there is also the Dolmabahçe Camii, its mosque, to be visited – and then you can relax for while on a bench under the trees next to the Dolmabahçe Saatkulesi, the clock tower.
Open daily from 9 a. m. to 4 p. m. except Mondays and Thursdays.
Note: Expect long queues for the tickets and unfortunately they don’t accept the Müzekart. Be aware that you can visit only with a guided tour (which is included in your ticket).
Ready for some more outdoor activities? Then let’s visit the Sultan’s park, the lush and serene Yıldız Parkı. It’s about 2 km / 1.5 mi East of Dolmabahçe, but you have to walk along big roads with much traffic. So better walk back about five minutes to Kabataş station and take on of the buses like No. 22 or 30D to Yahya Efendi station.
At the park you can just wander along the well-maintained walkways and maybe enjoy a cup of turkish mocha at the Restoran Dahill overlooking the mighty Bosporus. Or you combine your stroll with visits to the traces of the Ottoman past around the park: The Yıldız Sarayı, the palace with the adjacent mosque, the Yıldız Camii.
Enjoy oriental delights: Turkish tea and baklava,
a wedge of cake with nuts and honey.
Then, there are three small pavilions, the Çadır Köşkü, the Malta Köşkü, and the Şale Köşkü, which is actually part of the Yıldız Sarayı. At the Çadır Köşkü as well as the Malta Köşkü are very posh tea salons where you can enjoy refreshments and feel like an Ottoman noble.
Open daily from October to May from 9 a. m. to 6 p. m. and June to September from 9 a. m. to 8 p. m.
Entrance is free
Yıldız Parkı – Beşiktaş
Phone: + 90 – 212 – 227 49 28
Yıldız Parkı – Beşiktaş
Phone: + 90 – 212 – 258 53 44
Open Tuesday to Sunday 9 a. m. to 4.30 p. m.
⛈ Morning Activities
It’s definitely not difficult to spend an inspiring and fun day in Istanbul even though it’s raining. Let’s visit some really cool museums and see some great Turkish contemporary art. We’ll get to the classics later.
Let me lead you to a neighborhood that at the first glance seems not very appealing: Maslak, Istanbul’s financial district up North next to the Technical University.
Azade Köker: Exploded Still-Life and
Jan Fabre: The Wall of the Rise of the Angels,
an incredible cockroach dress – only
two of the many original works at the Elgiz
After a short walk from Aksaray to Yenikapı station you take the Métro M2 towards Hacıosman. Get off at İtü-Ayazağa station. Walk down Dereboyu 2 Caddesi and turn right into Maslak Meydan Sokak. On the left hand side you’ll get to a big parking lot that you have to cross to reach Istanbul’s first venue of contemporary art – the Projet4/Elgiz.
Dr. Can Elgiz, an architect and building contractor, started to collect modern art in the 1980s and is so kind to present it to the public at his museum – for free! Besides the permanent collection the special sculpture exhibits on the gallery’s rooftop are worth the visit – and the long ride out here.
Beybi Giz Plaza 34398
Maslak – Istanbul
Phone: +90 – 212 – 290 25 25
Open from Wednesday to Saturday 10 a. m. to 5 p. m. (Saturday 4 p. m.)
Entrance is free
Istanbul Modern: Cool, exquisite art inside…. (Photo: Sinan Koçaslan/Istanbul Modern)
While the Elgiz is definitely a hidden gem worth to be discovered, there’s another gallery introducing a wide range of contemporary Turkish artists, it’s the Istanbul Modern.
To get there from the Elgiz museum ist easy: You take the Métro M2 at İtü-Ayazağa station towards Yenikapı and get off at Şişhane. I hope it’s not raining too hard since now you have to walk about ten minutes down Kumbaracı Yokuşu towards the Bosporus and then turn left on Meclis-i Mebusan Caddesi.
The Istanbul Modern houses a fantastic collection of modern and contemporary Turkish artists including painting, sculpture, and video. In addition it’s the main venue of the Istanbul Biennal that is taking place this year from September 16 to November 12, 2017.
Open from Tuesday to Sunday 10 a. m to 6 p. m. (Thursday to 8 p. m.)
Time for lunch? What better way of combining one of Istanbul’s most important sights – the Galata bridge with groups of fishing man standing, sitting, and sprawling around while waiting for the fishes to bite – and sampling some of their catch next to the waters of the mighty Bosporus?!
The bridge’s lower part is packed with fish restaurants, but unfortunately I have to warn you that they are all overpriced tourist traps.
Exquisite quality at a good price – this is what you get at Tarihi Karaköy Balikçısı not far from the bridge on the ‘Golden Horn’.
To get there, take bus No. 30D at Yahya Efendi station and get off at Karaköy station. From there you walk all the way down Kürekçiler Kapısı Sokak (about two minutes) and you practically crash into the restaurant. Coming on a rainy day from the Istanbul Modern, you take tram T1 at Tophane and get off at Karaköy.
After lunch you might want to walk a little and it comes handy that you have to cross Galata bridge, anyway. You can either walk all the way to the Topkapı palace which are about 2,5 km / 1.5 mi so it takes about 30 minutes, or you cross the bridge walking and hop on the tram T1 at Eminönü, or you just take it right away at Karaköy station and save your energy for exploring the palace.
I explicitly don’t recommend the Istanbul Tourist Pass – it costs 120 € including nonsense like a free shuttle from the airport (one way!); that’s absolutely outrages! But I highly recommend you get a museum pass, the ‘Müzekart‘. It’s good for five days, which you might not need. But at a price of 85 TRY it still will pay if you follow this itinerary. And another advantage is absolutely priceless: You don’t have to wait in line, but can walk straight in. Once you see the queue in front of Hagia Sofia and Topkapı Palace, you will thank me for this tip.
There is gold and there are diamonds and pearls, but I think
I love the faience the most.
It was Sultan Mehmet II who began with the construction of the palace right after the conquest of Constantinople in 1453. Over the centuries various significant transformations took place, so that the Topkapı Palace got its present appearance only in the early 18th century. Following Turkish tradition the palace is not one big building, but consists of many individual dwellings and pavilions. The entire complex has a size of 69 hectare / 170 acres and housed up to 5000 people; it was like a town of its own. Besides the beautiful gardens and incredibly decorated buildings there are a couple of fascinating museums showing all the splendor and opulence of the Ottoman royalties. Although I’m a big fan of contemporary art and love the modern galleries at Istanbul, I find that the Topkapı Palace is the most important sight to visit when in Istanbul since for me it’s the cradle of Turkish culture.
Topkapı Palace Museum
Fatih – Istanbul
Phone: +90 – 212 – 512 04 80
Opening hours are from Wednesday to Monday:
October 30th – April 15th 9 a. m. to 4.45 p. m. and
April 15th – October 30th 9 a. m. to 6.45 p. m.
When in Turkey do as the Turkish do – strolling around
the Sultanahmet Arkeolojik Park.
Once you are at Sultanahmet, you should absolutely do what everybody does because in this case everybody is right: Go to see the enormous structures of Ayasofya Camii and the spiritual atmosphere of the Sultan Ahmet Camii; both buildings are just a stone throw from the palace around the Sultanahmet Arkeolojik Park.
There cannot be a visit to Turkey without a visit to one of the many tumultuous markets. So you should end your sightseeing at the Kapalı Çarşı, the big covered market. From Sultanahmet it’s just a mile so you can actually walk there. If you are tired walking, take tram T1 at Sultanahmet station and get off at Çemberlitaş.
You’ll find the exact entrance address below in the afternoon activities for a rainy day.
⛈ Afternoon Activities
Even if it’s raining cats and dogs, you absolutely have to see Topkapı Palace which prides itself to have many beautifully decorated rooms and halls as well as exhibitions of different treasures like weapons, costumes, and precious stones. From the lunch place you walk back to Karaköy station where you take tram T1 to Sultanahmet.
For info to this visit please refer to the sunny afternoon activities above.
The exhibits are found in and outside the museum:
Here some statues and sarcophagus. (Photo: Schezar,/www.flickr.com/people/rym/)
If after the visit to the Palace you still have time, I recommend a visit to the very nice and interesting İstanbul Arkeoloji Müzesi which was founded in 1891 as the main archeological museum of the Ottoman Empire and is until now Turkey’s largest and most important archological museum. Next to the mesmerizing sights around – like the Topkapı Palace, the Sultan Ahmet Camii, the Ayasofya Camii, and the Yerebatan Sarayı it is highly underrated.
İstanbul Arkeoloji Müzesi
Osman Hamdi Bey Yokusu
Sultanahmet – İstanbul
Phone: + 90 – – 212 520 77 40
The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9 a. m. to 7 p. m.
The blue print for occidental malls:
The Kapalı Çarşı, Istanbul’s covered market.
Everybody knows that the markets are an important part of the oriental culture, and you are lucky since in Istanbul is a huge covered market that you can visit even on a rainy day. It’s not very far from the Arkeoloji Müzesi, so if it’s not raining too hard you can actually walk the mile; otherwise just take tram T1 at Gülhane station and get off at Çemberlitaş.
Mahmutpaşa Bazaar Gate
Taya Hatun Mahallesi
Mahmutpaşa Yokuşu Sokak 4
Fatih – Istanbul
After you’ve shopped – and before you drop – let’s grab some hearty Turkish dinner. To the diner it’s only a short walk of about ten minutes.
There are many restaurants everywhere – and in the highly touristy Sultanahmet neighborhood you should be careful because the owners tend to add an unexpected tourist surcharge. Anyway, I absolutely love the very Turkish fast food chain Köfteci Ramiz that you’ll find at many locations all around Istanbul – and the rest of Turkey, for that matter.
Not only do they offer delicious Turkish burgers – ‘Köfte’ – the best and most impressive part is their salad bar offering far more than tomato, carrot, and iceberg lettuce: There are all these exotic beets and sprouts and herbs – and everything is arranged with so much abandon and an eye for detail. Go and try it out – it is so good!
Instead of a ‘nightcap’ I recommend you see the really mesmerizing ceremony of the whirling dervishes. There are various venues – sometimes combined with a dinner. This touristy show is definitely not the real thing, so I recommend Turkish Cultural Dance Theater & Whirling Dervishes Ceremony. You have to make reservation and only then they supply you with the address. I can tell you it’s behind the Sultanahmet Arkeolojik Park towards the Bosporus.
It’s a ten minutes walk from the diner to the ceremony’s venue.
To get to the Amethyst Hotel after the ceremony, you walk to the Sultanahmet station and take tram T1 to Aksaray station.
Especially if you are on a layover and need to get back to the airport in the early morning, staying close to Aksaray station makes things much easier.
Note: You know that I am always keen to supply you not only with correct information, but like to add links so you have the chance to re-check. I’m sorry to say that doing this for the Istanbul post was impossible: Many sites are pure scam or impossible to navigate or my computer warned me to open them – it was just pathetic! So I’m terribly sorry that you don’t find as many links to the venues as in my other articles, yet I hope that this post will be useful and help you having a great time in Istanbul – and if it’s only for 24 hours. Renata Green
Here are more pins with 24 hours itineraries to great destinations for you:
Since my two weeks educational vacation in Rome were of such a great personal gain, two years later it was time to get back on the language horse. After many hours in front of the computer screen talking in rudimentary Turkish to a learning program, I decided to give Turkey a shot.
Nestled between palm trees and lamp posts: Izmir proudly presents the ‘Saat Kulesi’ – its major tourist attraction.
Remembering my schedule in Rome where I spent mornings at exhibitions and afternoons at school, my first choice was buoyant and artsy Istanbul. I intended to split my time exactly the same way I did at the Eternal city. But a quick look at the prices thwarted my plans. Language lessons in Istanbul costs triple of the one I found in Izmir. So Izmir it was.
Everything I knew about Izmir was that there is an Izmir. Anything I was able to find on the internet was not very appealing. Izmir was described as big and modern and tolerant – which are unquestionably nice attributes. But big and modern and tolerant alone is not necessarily very entertaining, and the only sight I saw over and over again was the ‘Saat Kulesi’, the clock tower. I was not sure if the clock tower would capture my imagination for two weeks.
Actually I wasn’t even lodged anywhere close to the clock tower at the center of Izmir. I’d arrived at Karşıyaka, a borough with lots of very new, for my European eye quite charmless neighborhoods. Practical apartment buildings, few people on the streets – there was a project-feel to it.
There are certainly more animating places in the world than Izmir, but the one hour boat ride from Karşıyaka, where the Turkish Language Center is located, to the city center is quite idyllic.
Although my homestay in Rome had turned out to be a bit autistic, I gave it another try and chose to be hosted by a Turkish family. Since by then I had only spoken Turkish to a computer, I needed to be challenged to extended conversations badly.
I was lodged at a tiny lady’s big flat that she shared with her son who seemed to be in his early thirties. Single woman, adult child – Rome all over again. It’s not me repeating myself, life doesn’t surprise me enough.
First school day, first breakfast. “Yemek hazır!” I heard the tiny host mother calling from the kitchen next to my room. I was happy to understand right away the meaning: food is ready. What a head start, this stay promised to be a great linguistic success. When I got to the kitchen, there was a lovely omelet, there was a small basket with bread, tomato and cucumber slices on a saucer and one of these oriental glasses of tea. But there were no people. “You’re not eating?”, I scraped up my Turkish vocabulary. From her answer I understood that her son was still sleeping. And with that she went to the adjacent balcony, closed the glass door and lightened a cigarette.
I was hungry, school was waiting, I dug in. In front of me was a TV set blearing on a shelf behind the kitchen table. A young man, surprisingly hyper for this time of the day, informed the viewers about all sort of mostly very disturbing incidents.
No, wait, one story was really funny: It was about a man getting money at an ATM, and while he was waiting for his cash, the shop owner let down the rolling grill without realizing that someone was standing in front of the shop at the ATM. Only hours later the man, still trapped between the rolling grill and the ATM – isn’t that hilarious? – was released by the police. I found this incident priceless and would have loved to share a laugh with someone. But my guest mother was smoking on the balcony and my Turkish wasn’t good enough to explain this complex story, anyway.
After school – there was only one more student, a preppy American – and the first of my almost daily trips to the ‘Saat Kulesi’ I came home and tried to get my host mother involved in some kind of conversation, but my effort remained unrequited. After a while I heard her calling “Yemek hazır!”. At the kitchen I found a plate with chicken and egg plant and a basket with bread and slices of watermelon on a saucer and a glass of water. But I didn’t find people. Since she was standing on the balcony smoking a cigarette and I heard a different TV program from the living room, I didn’t bother to ask whether someone would join me. I had company, anyway: on the TV was some Turkish soap opera on, and – what a happy coincident – a jolly family was about to have dinner. I joined them on my side of the screen.
For two weeks the hyperactive young man and this soap opera lot kept me company and became sort of my friends while my guest mother was sitting on the balcony and her son was watching another program in the living room.
The Turkish practice didn’t go like I had imagined, but I cannot say that I didn’t learn anything at all. Besides the familiar “Yemek hazır!”, I learned very quickly the words “yaralı” (wounded) and unfortunately also “ölü” (dead), which proves that the show (by then I understood that the program was called “çalar saat”, alarm clock in English and thus very suitable for a morning news program) informed their viewers of mostly sad incidents.
In order to understand more of what my dinner companions were laughing and bickering about, I’d needed at least two more weeks; still it was nice to see their familiar faces dinner after dinner after dinner.
Now some words about the stay in Izmir apart from my lodging situation: Indeed, there is not much of the touristy, exotic kind to see in Izmir but it’s a great gateway to other great places like the lovely beaches on Çeşme peninsula and not that lovely, but very close by beaches at Foça. For those who are into old rocks and lots of dust, a one hour train ride takes you back in time to the Ruins of Ephesus, and after two hours by bus you reach Bergama with the Antique Acropolis and the even more impressive Asklepieion.
So all in all and especially considering the purpose of my stay, I had a nice time, but after having spent two weeks there, I don’t need to go back to Izmir ever again.
I took the opportunity to finally see Pamukkale which was on my bucket list since about thirty years ago I’ve seen a fantasy movie where some creepy guy used to live all by himself on these surreal limestone terraces. Well, I don’t know what they did over those last thirty years, but today you are definitely not by yourself.
Did you enjoy this funny little story? Here you can read what happened at the other destinations:
Why isn’t modern Turkish art more famous? The few times I spent in Turkey I saw outstanding, fresh and daring art – paintings, videos, and sculptures. Never heard of before. And I’m afraid that due to recent politics it’s not a prosperous time for contemporary Turkish artists to be introduced worldwide. While at least some people leave the beaten paths of Topkapı, Dolmabahçe & Co. to visit the Istanbul Modern, another treasure chest is still quite hidden: TheProje4L/Elgiz Museum of Contemporary Art, founded by Can Elgiz in 2001.
One reason why hardly anyone besides some hardcore art aficionados finds his way to the Elgiz is certainly its location. You have to travel by metro all the way up North to İtü Ayazağa İstasyonu, which is located next to the University of Technology in the middle of Istanbul’s financial district. When you go there on a Saturday, like I did, it’s frigging ghost town – no students, no bankers, no human beings of any kind.
“Visit the center of the world. You will find the secret stone there” by Caner Şengünalp.
My favorite piece at the exhibition – probably because its centerpiece is a roof…
So after meandering all bye:myself between the skyscrapers and a couple of construction sites – Istanbul is booming! – I reached the complex. Nodding ‘merhaba’ to the guard, I crossed a huge parking lot to get to the main building. Nothing “artsy”, nothing “trendy” round here. And no people.
Even inside the museum I was the one and only visitor. Never mind – let me tell you: this museum hosts an exquisite collection of modern art – Cindy Sherman, Stephan Balkenhol, Tracey Emin, Gilbert&George, Jonathan Meese, Eric Fischl – you name it. Unexpectedly impressive. And the best part seemed to be their annual special exhibit of Turkish sculptors under 40 located on the building’s rooftop. I took the elevator to this open air terrace exhibition. Almost reaching up there, it rattled a bit and stopped about two inches below the terrace level. The sliding door seemed stuck and slid open only a couple of inches. I’m not made to exit through a slot of a couple of inches, so I had to pull the door more open to squeeze myself out.
Oh, this place was so special – 1500 square meters of awe! Remarkable how many of the works dealt with the topic of – female – freedom and self-determination. Outstanding – I was amazed.
It was beginning of July and it got slowly quite hot on this white cobblestone covered terrace with no shade. Time to go. I squeezed myself back into the elevator – which unfortunately didn’t show any reaction to my button pushing. Hm, what now? Out of the elevator. Standing between the seven orange figurines of Düzel’s work “Monads” at the terrace fence, I put my hand over my eyes and tried to see agains the sun light whether the parking guard could spot me. Nope, far too far. Bending over the terrace fence, I raised my voice sheepishly to a handful of “Hello?!”s. While I was keen on someone noticing me, I felt a bit stupid at the same time. “Hello!” No, not a chance: Saturday at the financial district. But hey, what was this cage at the opposite end of the terrace? An emergency exit! A grid door, a door latch, an open lock – problem solved. Two flights of stairs down laid my personal – female – freedom. At the lowest step then another grid door, a door latch – and a locked lock; problem back again. “Hello!”
So I climbed the stairs back to the still awesome, still hot terrace. Back to the fence. “Hello!” There, on the patio of the small chain coffee shop next door: humans! The two ladies working at the museum! “Hello!” They looked around a bit confused. “Hello!” Now they looked up. They saw me. I didn’t have to explain much, they got me. One of them jumped up and rushed into the museum. Time to walk down the stairs again. By the time I reached the ground floor, the jumpy lady got hold of the janitor and he was holding an enormous set of keys, trying one after the other. The jumpy lady – completely petrified – didn’t stop to apologize; in English. And to whoop the janitor; in Turkish. I felt bad. For him for being whooped. For her for being so freaked out. For me for being locked in. They at least had something to do, I was just standing there replying that it was not their fault and not that bad.
Eventually came the great moment for the three of us – but before that the janitor had to get some more keys – and one of the keys clicked in the lock and the door sprang open and I had my – female – freedom. Only the jumpy lady was still jumpy and apologetic and begging pardon. “I’m so sorry. It’s terrible that something like this happened. I’m sorry. I’m really, really sorry. What can I do?! Do you want a catalogue? Here – take a catalogue. I’m so, so sorry!”, and with that she imposed me the exhibition catalogue – a really nice paperback with images of the beautiful works and information on all the participating artists.
And here are a couple of participating artist I personally liked the best:
Caner Şengünalp “Visit the center of the world. You will find the secret stone there”
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