Istanbul is the European Capital of Culture for 2010. Being one of the cities, which most influenced European culture and civilization, Istanbul, Europe’s Natural Culture Capital, will officially become the European Capital of Culture in 2010.
Turkey’s European identity is being discussed in a wide perspective nowadays. We are considering Istanbul as an inseparable center of Europe. Therefore, Istanbul’s official selection as European Capital of Culture represents a political and historical turning point. Having played significant parts in all great transformations Europe has gone through in history, Istanbul is continuing to influence Europe –which needs to redefine itself at this point– by offering it new understandings and perspectives. Istanbul is inspiring Europe and in fact the entire world – just as it has been doing at all times…
We had long discussions over how we should promote Istanbul to the world in 2010. Many Istanbulites from our communication department, art directorates, advertising agency and lots of people from the social environments of each of us have contributed to these discussions. We always tried to find the words and adjectives, to define Istanbul the best. We noticed that, when used alone, most of these adjectives are insufficient in defining Istanbul. At this point we asked ourselves this question: What does this city has to offer to its residents, to its visitors and even to those, who have a desperate longing for it in distant places? What do the Istanbulites feel about Istanbul? How should they feel?
The word we kept coming up with was “inspiration”. And after that, we finally formulized the slogan to promote Istanbul to the world through 2010: “Istanbul: The most inspiring city of the world”.
Through history, Istanbul has always been the most inspiring city of the world. During the ancient ages, it was one of the significant commercial centers of the world. Today, the findings we obtained from the archaeological excavations in Yenikap› reveal that Istanbul’s history dates back far beyond than assumed. Many key opinion leaders, artists and intellectuals, including Calliste, the leader of the mystical movement of the Byzantine era and Psellus, the architect of the Byzantine Renaissance, produced their works, benefiting from the endless inspiration the city had to offer. What motivated many commanders and rulers from many parts of the world to conquer this city was again the same inspiration and attraction: Among them, only Mehmed the Conqueror achieved this goal and inerasably engraved the features of Ottoman civilization to the identity of the city. From the Ottoman era to modern Turkey all the great statesmen, authors, intellectuals, opinion leaders, artists of our country held Istanbul in the center of their vision. They could not leave the city, and when they did they wanted to come back as quickly as possible. Those who could not come back have always missed the city and kept it in their hearts. Some wrote “The entire Persian state can be sacrificed for a single pebble stone in Istanbul”, while another just “Listened to Istanbul”. A poet devoted his entire life to loving the city stating that “Loving only one district is worth a life”.
During and after the Classical era and Renaissance, Istanbul has been an attraction point for many art fields including music, literature, visual arts and cinema. Moreover, despite its farawayness the city has inspired many others. Composer of “Allegretto alla Turca”, Mozart was inspired by Istanbul. So was Puccini. So were Ennio Morricone, Goran Bregovic, Apollinaire, Agatha Christie and many others. They all kept Istanbul somewhere in their works, minds and imaginations. The characters of Amin Maalouf have always been to Istanbul some time in their adventures. James Bond definitely had a ruse to carry out in Istanbul. On the other hand, not only the Western world was inspired by Istanbul, the Easterners were equally impressed.