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A Trailblazing Arts Festival Changing Global Perceptions of Turkey

How Alphan Eseli and his wife Demet are shifting the paradigm with the Istanbul Arts & Culture Festival.

Courtesy of Istanbul '74

For centuries, Istanbul, Turkey has been a cosmopolitan port attracting global citizens from all walks of life, and an incubator for thought-provoking discourse, inspiring everyone from Rumi to Rimbaud. Despite this legacy of sophistication, many evening-news watchers tend to lump Istanbul, and, for that matter, all of Turkey, under the misleading title of “conflict area” due to its proximity to several embattled neighbor-nations. Situated perfectly between Europe and Asia, with Syria to the South and Iran to the East, many in the West, particularly those unfamiliar with the region, are worried that the country will be next in line to fall prey to ISIS, which in the last year has grown from fringe movement to formidable force.

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Turkey’s New Selfie Statue Immediately Vandalized by Haters

The Ottoman prince was relieved of his camera.

Image by Twitter user Mete Sohtaoğlu (@metesohtaoglu)

There are so many questions to ask about this strange story from the Turkish city of Amasya, where municipality officials have erected a statue of an Ottoman prince taking a selfie with one hand and holding a sword with his other. Most of these questions begin with, “Why?”

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Why Are Armenians in Turkey Protesting in Front of an Arts Museum?

This tourist attraction was once the site of a horrific tragedy.

Images of the Armenian intellectuals detained and deported from Istanbul on April 24, 1915. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

To commemorate the centennial anniversary of the Armenian genocide—a horrific event that took the lives of an estimated 1.5 million people—more than 100 Armenians in Turkey organized a demonstration in front of the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art in Istanbul. Assembled in front of the building, many held signs that read, “recognize the genocide” or carried red carnations in their hands.

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Are You in the Market for an Ancient Turkish City? There’s One For Sale.

A Turkish real estate agency has put up a property listing for a $9.6 million ancient city.

Bargylia. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Finally, the gift you can buy for the guy who has everything: his very own ancient Turkish city. A Turkish real estate agency has just listed a 5th century Aegean town for sale at the completely affordable price of $9.6 million. The city comes with a pretty gnarly Greek origin myth: it’s named Bargylia after the Greek figure Bargylos, who was killed after being kicked by Pegasus, the ancient winged stallion.

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The First Woman Known to Design a Mosque

Zeynep Fadillioglu is Turkey’s interior design star.

Şakirin Mosque in Istanbul

Turkey is home to more than 82,600 mosques and they’re all designed by men—except one, the Şakirin mosque in Istanbul, co-created by 59-year old Turkish interior designer Zeynep Fadillioglu, perhaps the first woman ever to design a mosque. The mosque, the exterior of which was designed by architect Husrev Tayla, features a 130-foot diameter dome and iron and glass facades. Fadillioglu’s interior designs of the mosque reveal a significant awareness of the women’s spaces—in the Şakirin mosque, the women’s section equals the men’s in both size and ornamentation. “I positioned them on the upper balcony, because during prayer the women must be behind the men," she told CNN. "But I also decided to make the balcony level one of the most beautiful areas, with the chandelier crystal droplets just in front, and where you can see the mihrab [an alcove pointing towards Mecca] from the best angle." Fadillioglu also enlisted the skills of other woman artists, like Nahide Buyukkaymakci, whose blown-glass rain drops hang from the chandelier at the Şakirin mosque.

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