A city in flux – half of its 15 million inhabitants are under 20 years old. A city in motion. Istanbul is constantly reinventing itself. Art galleries, chosen by the best contemporary art fairs, make the city an iconic place of contemporary creation. Concept stores, clubs, rooftops, bars that furiously evoke those of Berlin's Kreutzberg area: change is underway here.
While in the old neighbourhoods eras overlap without fading away, giving the city a crazy charm, the transformation is still palpable. Whether you're at the SALT Foundation, an alternative art centre set up in the former headquarters of the Ottoman Imperial Bank, which questions living together through performing arts, visual arts, and urban planning, a laboratory where the new Istanbul is being invented , or facing the strait, sitting at the Istanbul Modern restaurant, a museum set up in former maritime warehouses, you can watch the city transform before your eyes.
A romantic visit to the Museum of Innocence
In a bohemian neighbourhood on Cihangir Hill, with sloping alleyways, trendy cafes shaded terraces, and organic grocery stores, there is a large house painted in dark red, nestled between a neighbourhood hammam and an antique dealer. You enter it like a book: Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk has set up a museum there, a mirror to his great romance novel The Museum of Innocence (published in 2008, translated by Gallimard in 2011). Two floors of a very personal collection display objects that mark the story of Kemal's impossible love for Füsün. The collection also tells the story of Istanbul's secular, wealthy bourgeoisie in the middle of the last century.
Playing Pasha on the Bosphorus
Did you know? Yali means 'feet in the water '. Yalis are the beautiful wooden houses on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus, which were summer residences under the Ottoman Empire . Wealthy Istanbul residents in search of fresh air settled there as holidaymakers. The yali of Salih Efendi, doctor to Sultan Mahmut II, is a beautiful red wooden house. During your one day in Istanbul, you can go there to have tea, hosted by the great-grandson of Salih Efendi, the current owner of the premises.
Strolling through a contemporary art centre
In Eyüp, the Santrallistanbul, Istanbul's first thermal power station, which has been converted into a contemporary art centre , provides a 1,270 square foot cultural complex with museums, a large library, cinema, and bar. It's a Tate Modern on the Bosphorus and we love it.
Enjoy a steam bath in an Ottoman hammam
Built in 1580, the hammam of Pasha Ali in Tophane, a beautiful pink brick building, reopened in 2013, after a seven-year renovation by architect Cafer Bozkurt. The central hot marble, steam bath, clouds of soap foam, scrubbing , and massage will give you a chance to take a moment for yourself, under the star-dotted domes.
Drinking raki at THE cult club
It all starts here, announces Babylon's website, and it's kind of true. Opened in 1998, Babylon has in part been responsible for the transformation of the city that we are still seeing today. And it sets the benchmark for live music. It has a bohemian clientele and eclectic programming, from Baba Zula (Istanbul dub) to Patti Smith.