Istanbul Is Now Officially The 2010 European Capital Of Culture

Lizbon Büyükelçiliği 17.01.2010
Istanbul is now officially the 2010 European Capital of Culture (The detailed program of the cultural program to be held in İstanbul 2010 can be accessed at the official web site of 2010 European Capital of Culture-İstanbul

Through the opening celebrations organized by the Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture Agency and held simultaneously across 7 different centres of the city, Istanbul is now “officially” Europe’s Culture Capital...

With the start of 2010, Istanbul celebrated its new title as European Capital of Culture on Saturday, 16 January 2010, through various activities and festive celebrations held in 7 different centres of the city.

The celebrations started with a protocol event taking place at the Haliç Congress Centre, where Ministers from Turkey as well as neighbouring countries participated, along with high level statesmen and diplomats, leading members of the business, culture and arts world, local and foreign press members. Istanbul’s energy which spreads out to the entire world, reached its peak through the celebrations held together with all of Istanbulites in the squares of Taksim, Kadıköy, Sultanahmet, Pendik, Bağcılar and Beylikdüzü.

In the celebration events held under the auspices of President Abdullah Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, commissaries from approximately 40 mostly European countries and correspondents of international establishments, opinion leaders of both business and artistic and cultural communities had to chance to gather together in this glorious protocol event which started at 5:30 p.m. with an opening cocktail.

Furthermore, committees from Essen and Pecs, the two other cities who will be holding the same title in 2010, leading figures who have contributed to the evolution of the title of European capital of culture, and Spyros Mercouri, the brother of Melina Mercouri the creator of the title, as well as diplomats of the European Commission were also present at the ceremony.

Minister of Culture and Tourism Ertuğrul Günay, Mayor of Istanbul Metropolitan Kadir Topbaş and Governor of İstanbul Muammer Güler attended the ceremony that was hosted by Minister of State and Chairman of İstanbul 2010 Coordination Board Hayati Yazıcı and Chairman of Executive Board of Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture Agency Şekib Avdagiç.

Speaking at the ceremony, Şekib Avdagiç stated:

“In the 21st century the whole world is witnessing both the excitement and anxiety of major change. In such a period, Istanbul too is entering the New Year with a new title: European Capital of Culture. Our effort is to introduce Istanbul to the entire world, and promote its rediscovery. We are preparing our entire projects with this goal. Istanbul is a sacred stamp uniting Europe and Asia. Now it is time to proclaim this stamp to all corners of the world… Now it is time to rediscover Istanbul… It is the time to watch Istanbul… It is Istanbul time…”

“The Magic of Istanbul” captivated all viewers…

The opening speeches were followed by the special performance called "The Magic of Istanbul," choreographed specifically for this special night by Yekta Kara. The performance of 65 minutes presented 303 artists exposing a multi-layered and profound cultural heritage, the sources of energy and inspiration in Istanbul, through the music, dance, poetry and visions peculiar to Istanbul.

The show began with Cüneyt Türel’s reading of the poem “I am listening to Istanbul”, followed by various performances from the Istanbul State Opera and Ballet Choir, MFÖ, State Ballet, Sertab Erener, Bekir Ünlüataer, Istanbul historical Music Group, Sephardic Synagogue Prayers Choir, Kevork Tavitay, Kubat, Zuhal Olcay, Silivri Folk Dance Group, Aynur, Yetkin Dikinciler, Fatih Erkoç, Dilek Turkan, Incesaz, Yarkin Percussion Group and the Istanbul State Orchestra Children’s Choir.

The entire performance was joined by 100 members of Istanbul State Symphony Orchestra headed by Orchestra Chief Nacı Özgüç. Gökçen Koray leaded the choir group and Aysun Aslan prepared the dance choreographies.

President Abdullah Gül and Prime-Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pushed the launch button for Istanbul 2010

Just after this special performance, President Abdullah Gül and Prime-Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pushed the launch button for a special sound, light and firework show taking place on the pier in front of the Haliç Congress Centre to mark the beginning of 2010.

This show – a “City Event” designed to take its energy from Istanbul, lasted for 10 minutes, turning the Golden Horn, which bears the marks of many different civilizations and cultures, into a festival arena one kilometre in length.

The show was also be televised in special screens installed in public squares in Taksim, Kadıköy, Pendik, Sultanahmet, Beylikdüzü and Bağcılar. This remarkable festival was broadcasted on TV channels as well, for 13 million residents of Istanbul and all of Turkey to see.

Istanbul’s enthusiasm overflowed through simultaneous eventsFor the joy of all Istanbul residents different programs were running simultaneously to the ceremony in Haliç. DJ performances, dance and music shows met with Istanbullites in the squares of Taksim, Kadıköy, Pendik, Sultanahmet, Beylikdüzü and Bağcılar until late hours of the night.

One of the biggest surprises of the night was the Fire Theatre realized in Taksim and the Balloon Theatre realized in Kadikoy. In these shows staged by Group F of France, they used the sky as their stage, giving Istanbulites unforgettable joy through their light and music shows.

After the sound and light shows in Haliç started, the enthusiasm for 2010 was amplified through concerts taking place in six different squares across Istanbul. Renown Turkish artists who have also successfully represented Turkey in international arenas met with Istanbullites; Tarkan in Taksim, Mor ve Ötesi in Kadıköy, Nil Karaibrahimgil in Beylikdüzü, Mercan Dede in Sultanahmet, Kıraç in Pendik and Zara in Bağcılar.

Special for 16 January, night shifts at museums
Prominent culture and art organizations of Istanbul contributed to the events realized by Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture Agency. Thanks to special arrangements concluded between the Agency and various public and private organizations of culture and arts, Istanbul residents had the opportunity to enjoy the city’s culture and art life until midnight. Istanbulites and all guests had the chance to visit a number of museums, included among them the Hagia Sophia, Archeology Museum, Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum, Military Museum Commandership, Istanbul Modern, Rahmi Koc Museum, Sakıp Sabancı Museum, Aşiyan Museum, Sadberk Hanım Museum and the Basilica Cistern.


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