Art Across Istanbul – Istanbul Spotlights Art and Culture

Art Across Istanbul – Istanbul Spotlights Art and Culture

Istanbul’s Atatürk Cultural Center reopened its doors to art lovers on October 29, 2021, the 98th anniversary of Turkish Republic Day. Known as Atatürk Kültür Merkezi (or AKM in short) by the locals, the newly-built contemporary structure references its former, iconic design.

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The AKM is one of the most important investments of the Beyoğlu Culture Route, established by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism as Türkiye’s one of the largest arts and culture project to date. The Centre marks the start of the culture avenue, and its reopening launches the International Beyoğlu Culture Route Festival, also developed by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. 

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Minister of Culture and Tourism, Mehmet Nuri Ersoy, inaugurated the Istanbul Atatürk Cultural Center in an opening ceremony attended by prominent figures from the business, arts and academic spheres, as well as representatives from non-governmental organizations, and local and foreign media outlets.

Completely reconstructed in 2.5 years by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism at a cost of TL 2 billion, the AKM welcomes visitors throughout the year to a 49,000-square-metre, 2040-seat Opera House equipped with the state-of-art technology. The Centre also features a 16,300-square metre, 802-seat Theatre Hall, the 410-square-metre AKM Gallery and the AKM Multipurpose Hall.

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In addition to the aforementioned halls, the AKM offers an indoor area of approximately 100,000 square metres, consisting of a Gallery, a Multipurpose Hall, a Children’s Art Centre, a music platform, a music recording studio, and a library designed as an information centre for specialized topics such as music, art, architecture and design. The renewed complex also includes the AKM Yeşilçam Cinema and spaces such as the Design Shop, along with rehearsal areas, soloist and orchestra study rooms, restaurants, a cafeteria, book cafés, workshops, and administrative and technical units.

The Wait is Over: The Iconic Istanbul Atatürk Cultural Center Reopens

Anticipated to be a major attraction for the city’s residents and thousands of tourists visiting from around the world, the Istanbul Atatürk Cultural Center reopened its doors on October 29, Republic Day in a resplendent ceremony attended by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The world premiere of the Sinan Opera held at the opening of the AKM

Composed at the request of President Erdoğan, “Sinan Opera” held its world premiere at the reopening of the AKM. Staged by the Istanbul State Opera and Ballet, the opera, an original work by a Turkish composer, was brought to the stage by the renowned Italian director Vincenzo Grisostomi Travaglini.

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The epic performance, centred on Mimar Sinan, one of the world’s greatest architects, is directed by the conductor Gürer Aykal. The opera was composed by the contemporary Turkish classical music composer Prof. Hasan Uçarsu, and the libretto was written by Dr. Bertan Rona, based on the script of the same name by Halit Refiğ.

The audience is introduced to events taking place during the construction of the Mihrimah Sultan Mosque and the Süleymaniye Mosque. The construction of the latter, considered Mimar Sinan’s masterwork, extended over seven years, causing some state officials to side against Sinan. The opera also touches on the Ottoman victories, the tradition of being a great state, and spiritual values against the backdrop of the friendship of Suleiman the Magnificent and Mimar Sinan.

The New AKM will be Istanbul’s Cultural Heartbeat

The AKM, which plays a vital role in Istanbul’s goal of becoming a globally leading arts centre, will continue its mission of cultivating, supporting and presenting art, drawing visitors from all walks of life to experience rich content. The new AKM will serve as an example for similar structures in Türkiye.

The operating model of the building, which was conceived with the latest and most advanced technology, is a key element in differentiating the structure. Prior to its construction, a team of experienced professionals evaluated numerous structures with similar functions throughout the world, and also consulted with leading figures in Türkiye’s cultural spheres.

Resident institutions in the new Atatürk Cultural Center include the Presidential Classical Turkish Music Choir, the Istanbul State Opera and Ballet, the Istanbul State Theatre, the Istanbul Symphony Orchestra and the Istanbul State Turkish Music Ensemble affiliated with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

The AKM campus includes an opera house with a capacity of 2,040 seats and an 802-seat theatre, as well as units with different functions set along a pathway called “Culture Street.” In addition, the campus features a multipurpose hall that can accommodate exhibitions, concerts, theatre performances, conferences and meetings.

The AKM Gallery is on the facade facing Taksim Square, next to the main building housing the iconic sphere. Featuring a soaring, prismatic design at the entrance to the Culture Street, The Gallery also fulfills the need for an exemplary exhibition hall in Istanbul. The space will host exhibits by selected contemporary artists.

An Important Concert from the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the New AKM 

The Istanbul Atatürk Cultural Center welcomes the London Philharmonic Orchestra during its opening week.

The London Philharmonic Orchestra, considered one of the finest symphony orchestras in the world and featuring almost 100 musicians, will perform a dedicated repertoire on the new AKM stage on October 31. “Haydar Haydar,” composed by veteran Turkish composer Özkan Manav for the orchestra, is also included in the program. For the first time, the London Philharmonic Orchestra will perform the work of a Turkish composer.

The soloist of the concert, led by Italian-born British conductor Robin Ticciati, will be pianist Francesco Piemontesi, considered one of the finest living interpreters of Mozart’s music.

On November 2, the Grammy-winning trumpeter Chris Botti –among the greatest jazz musicians alive today– will perform with his ensemble at the Atatürk Cultural Center Opera House as part of the opening concerts.

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Istanbul –the only metropolis in the world to span two continents, and a bridge between civilizations, cultures and economies– launches a multi-faceted, wide-ranging international city festival focusing on culture and art. 

Developed by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Beyoğlu Culture Route Project highlights Istanbul’s international value, and its historical, architectural, economic, and touristic assets. The Beyoğlu Culture Route Festival takes place from October 30 to November 14, 2021, featuring the participation of more than one thousand artists across 60 locations. 

Serving as the capital for three empires due to its strategic position connecting Europe and Asia, Istanbul has brought together different religions, cultures, communities and their works throughout a rich history dating from the prehistoric era. Named a European Capital of Culture in 2010 by the Council of Europe, Istanbul now hosts an international city festival organized on the axis of Türkiye’s largest cultural and art project, the Beyoğlu Culture Route.

The Beyoğlu Culture Route features the newly-rebuilt Atatürk Cultural Center, as well as the Galata Tower, Atlas Cinema, Galata Mevlevi Lodge, the Mehmet Akif Memorial House, and the Tarık Zafer Tunaya Culture Theatre, along with numerous other historical, cultural and architectural assets restored by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. These include important cultural and tourism investments such as Galataport, the Emek Cinema, and Garibaldi Stage. The route from the Atatürk Cultural Center to Galataport presents a revealing journey from the past to the future amid the captivating ambiance of Beyoğlu, with architecture, literature, painting, music, design and theatre.

The Beyoğlu Culture Route Festival will be held annually to ensure that this project, designed to contribute to the brand value of Istanbul, one of the world’s most important tourism destinations, is showcased on an international level.

Türkiye’s Largest Arts and Culture Project 

Starting on October 30 and running through November 14, the Beyoğlu Culture Route Festival will feature concerts, exhibitions, and other events. Embracing all segments of society, exhibitions, concerts, opera and theatre productions, discussions and workshops will be held in sixty locations along the Festival route, with the participation of more than one thousand artists.

As Türkiye’s largest arts and culture project, the Beyoğlu Culture Route Festival brings together a wide array of works and disciplines, ranging from classical to contemporary arts, digital and film, music, dance and literature. Contemporary artists and university students are featured, along with collectors’ works and pieces produced for the Festival, gathering the nation’s cultural and artistic values under one roof.

The Beyoğlu Culture Route Festival Supported by Technology

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism presents the Beyoğlu Culture Route mobile application.

The Beyoğlu Culture Route Festival app provides information on the Festival’s events and venues, as well as directions to the various locations. Users can create personalized profiles, plan and track their Festival activities, and stay updated on related news and social media posts as the Festival events are underway.

A World Festival Featuring More than One Thousand Artists in Sixty Locations

With more than a thousand artists, the Beyoğlu Culture Route program includes forty exhibitions and special projects, seventy-five concerts, forty-five workshops, twenty interviews, fifteen light shows (video mapping), and ten performances in sixty locations consisting of thirty-six indoor venues and twenty-four outdoor venues. The full program can be accessed at

Art and cultural activities to be held within the scope of the Festival are as follows:

  • As one of the Festival’s most important venues, the Istanbul Ataturk Cultural Center will host eleven major exhibitions, ranging from classical art, contemporary art, digital art, and artificial intelligence. The exhibitions are designed to provide an immersive experience from the past to the future in both content and technology.
  • The two concert halls will host twenty-seven major concerts and performances, ranging from concerts by the world’s most prominent symphony orchestras to opera, ballet, and theatre productions.
  • At the AKM Children’s Art Centre, famous artists will meet with young art lovers at children’s workshops.
  • The Taksim Mosque Cultural Centre, another Festival venue, will host exhibitions, artists’ workshops, interviews, and religious music concerts.
  • Within the scope of the Festival, a digital audio-visual performance featuring the world’s greatest masters will span an area of 850 square meters in Galataport.
  • Hundreds of works by fine arts university and high school students have been selected for the Festival.
  • Installations designed by twelve female artists for the Festival will be exhibited on the streets of Beyoğlu, complementing the area’s vibrancy and dynamism.
  • In addition, installations designed by local and foreign artists for the Beyoğlu streets are also on display.
  • In the “Transformation” exhibition, we will witness the transformation of matter and waste into art.
  • Within the scope of the Festival, a range of exhibitions, embracing all segments of society, will span disciplines ranging from classical to digital art, and from master artists to young talents.
  • Within the scope of the Festival, readings, discussions, commemorations, and excursions will take place with our nation’s most renowned writers and poets at literary and poetry stops.
  • The Atlas Cinema Museum, which hosts film and photography exhibitions, stands out as a highlight of this event.
  • Nearly one hundred concerts will be held over fifteen days in indoor and outdoor venues. Featuring musicians ranging from Türkiye’s most famous and popular artists to the world’s greatest symphony orchestras, stages will offer opera, theatre, religious music, rap music and much more.
  • Beyoğlu’s many museums and galleries will also contribute to the Beyoğlu Culture Route Festival with dedicated exhibitions and events.

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