What's New in Istanbul?

ISTANBUL , Turkey , August 10, 2005 – This summer Istanbul is ablaze with intriguing new attractions. With a restaurant boasting 360 degree views of the city from each table, the revival of a 16th century pavilion, boat tours along the Bosphorus in grand vessels fashioned from those of the Ottoman Sultans, and the completion of a ten year restoration of a prince’s mansion, Istanbul is more exciting than ever. Istanbul has long been an alluring destination for sophisticated travelers, and this month the only city on earth that straddles two continents was named as one of the top ten greatest cities in the world to visit (third best in Europe) by the readers of Travel + Leisure.

Perched high atop Istanbul ’s chic Beyoglu district, 360 Istanbul Restaurant and Bar serves up “new Istanbul cuisine” and possibly the most spectacular views of the city seen from any indoor spot. Transplanted South African Mike Norman, former chef of some of the city’s greatest five star hotels, is hailed for his unique Turkish take on international fare, earning a top ten ranking in TimeOut Istanbul. Still the food almost plays second fiddle to the view – Istanbul ’s only 360 degree vista. From Turkish socialites out on the town to international travelers seeking the hottest and newest in Istanbul , 360 is quickly dominating the scene as the place to be, and, of course, eat.

 The exotic metropolis which hosts more weddings per year than any other city in the world, now boasts a romantic private function venue dating back to 1591. Built during the reign of Sultan Murad III and now the only structure from the assorted villas and coastal palaces of Topkapi Palace’s outer gardens and banks still standing, the Sepetciler Kasri Pavilion merges majestic antiquity with the modern luxury and unparalleled service standards of the Swissotel organization. From intimate dinner parties to formal business programs and grand receptions to small cocktail functions, the facility immerses any event in the mystique of life along the Bosphorus.

Once a lighthouse and docking point for the royal navy, centuries later the pavilion is still poised to accommodate those seeking maritime adventures. Exclusive sails on the Bosphorus are offered on Swissotel’s two luxurious private yachts which depart from the Sepetciler Kasri and navigate the blue beauty of the Istanbul strait. They can accommodate up to 500. For an experience unlike any other, the Sultan Kayiklari (Sultan’s Boat) provides the most authentic way to tour the breathtaking waters that separate Istanbul ’s Asian and European shores. On elaborate vessels replicating the imperial luxury of those used by the powerful leaders of the Ottoman Empire , the Sultan’s Boat tours are themed around the three great water-side palaces of the city – the only tour boat permitted by the National Palace Board to shuttle between these monuments. Along the route, architectural wonders, both ancient and contemporary capture the imagination, as do the sites of great wealth and industry from the Topkapi Palace to the original Ottoman factory used to make fez hats.

Refashioned into a luxurious private banquet / meeting space and enchanting restaurant, the Sait Halim Pasa Mansion , is slated to be a haunt fit for its namesake former royal inhabitant. Draped in the mystery of the prince’s career in government, sudden arrest and eventual assassination, the mansion now boasts ten spectacular rooms, in addition to three gardens.

The nine halls available for private functions consist of the Hunting Hall, Ceremonial, Harem, Study, Grand, Japanese, Golden, Venetian and Hamam. Each is named for their original purpose or theme. The Golden Hall boasts golden furnishings and decorations. Elaborately inscripted friezes and an ornately beamed ceiling give the Ceremonial Hall the royal air of an Egyptian salon, while the Hunting Hall (the prince’s personal favorite as a passionate hunter) bursts with animal prints and hunting scenes. The quiet majesty of wood paneled walls fills the Study and Italian antiques define the Venetian Hall. The onsite restaurant Clement’s, an intriguing eatery and hangout replete with the pulsating beat of live music, dishes to seduce the palate and an extraordinary panorama of the Bosphorus, is now open for reservations and a debaucherous late night bar scene.

Turkey , the site of two wonders of the ancient world, is a present-day marvel – the cradle of civilization, the very center of world history and a modern Westward-looking republic. It is a country of fascinating contrasts, where antiquity is juxtaposed with the contemporary, the familiar with the exotic; where sun-swept beaches beckon less than an hour away from snow-capped mountains, and everywhere visitors are treated to the extraordinary warmth of the Turkish people.

For information about travel to Turkey, call 1-877-FOR-TURKEY 
or contact the Turkish Culture and Tourism Offices in New York at 212-687-2194 
or in Washington D.C. at 202-612-6800 or in Los Angeles at 323-937-8066
and visit www.tourismturkey.org 
or www.kulturturizm.gov.tr


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