By Seda Arat, Director, Business Development | Istanbul
What is your idea of a perfectly happy day in your city?
Starting the day early on Saturday morning and going to the organic market
in Ferikoy. Then heading to Rumelihisari along the Bosphorus for a
traditional Turkish breakfast at Kale Cafe. A stroll along the waterline to burn the calories and sometimes hopping on a ferry for a quick trip to the Asian side.
In the evenings, dining in one of the restaurants in Asmalimescit or a café
in Nisantasi and finishing off with drinks at Leb-i Deryaor 360 for breathtaking views of Bosphorous.
Knowing your city and its citizens, what is your greatest fear?
Earthquakes. Sadly, there isn’t enough awareness to get better prepared for
such a disaster.
Which historical figure would do best in your city?
Alexander the Great. Being an advocate of cultural infusion, he can’t find a
better place than Istanbul. It’s literally where the East meets the West and
where for centuries people have formed a unique cultural mix.
Which do you admire most about your city (something from recent years)?
Since mid 2009, Istanbul (and Turkey) is smoke- free! This is a huge step
given Turkey has one of the highest smoking rates in the world.
Which is the trait you deplore most about your city?
Traffic. You need to always factor it into your daily plans. Unfortunately, Istanbul’s infrastructure isn’t designed to accommodate 3 million registered vehicles plus all those transiting.
What is the negative trait that others falsely accuse your city of having?
Not being respectful of the environment. Though this might have had some truth in the past, more and more Istanbulites are becoming environment conscious in recent years.
What is the greatest extravagance one can experience in your city?
Depends what you fancy- stay at Ciragan Palace Kempinski to feel like a royal, have a Bosphorus tour by a private motor yacht, view Istanbul from a different angle by taking a helicopter tour, dine in Reina or Al Jamal, have a spa treatment Turkish way inCagaloglu Hamami.
What is a positive trait your city is known for that is actually false?
That Istanbul is a bargain.
What do you dislike most about the architecture, city layout and general appearance of your city?
People from rural areas continue to migrate to Istanbul every year with the
hopes of finding jobs and living a better life. Not getting what they hoped
for and with not much to afford, they end up building “gecekondus” (built
overnight) squats all over Istanbul. Unfortunately, they aren’t visually
When was your city’s hey-day?
15th and 16th centuries when it was the hey-day of the Ottomon Empire and
being the capital, Istanbul enjoyed a unique status.
If you could change one thing about your city what would it be?
Over the years, most of the old buildings were knocked down to be replaced
by soulless modern ones. A big portion of the cultural heritage is lost
forever. I wish it was possible to bring back time and restore these
What do outsiders (or transplants and long-time visitors) to your city generally answer to the last question?
Better and more extensive public transportation network (especially
underground) to escape the traffic.
What do you consider your city’s greatest achievement?
Istanbul has provided refuge to people of all ethnic backgrounds, social
upbringings and religious beliefs for centuries.
If your city was destroyed and one day its ruins discovered, what do you think they would find and/or learn about it?
That it was a city of contradictions – old vs. new, rich vs. poor, East vs. West. And that it was overcrowded (currently 13 million)!
What is your city’s greatest artistic or architectural acquisition?
Istanbul has a history of more than 2500 years and this is reflected in its
architecture. Saint Sophia, Basilica Cistern, Blue Mosque, Rumelihisari,
Grand Bazaar, Galata Tower, Topkapi Palace, Maiden’s Tower, Haydarpasa Train Station (though a recent fire destroyed its roof) to namejust a few.