Istanbul – Cultural Capital of Europe

Istanbul opened the series of events prepared for 2010, when it is Cultural Capital of Europe, an occasion for the city to show its European ties and influences. Named since 2006 Capital of Europe in 2010 by the European Union, Istanbul is the first Turkish city with this status and hopes to attract up to 10 million visitors, with the 170 events that the municipality will run this year.

A former capital of the Roman Empire, of the Byzantine Empire and of the Ottoman Empire, Istanbul had last year 7.5 million tourists. But the title of Cultural Capital of Europe assigned to Turkey in 2010 – alongside Pecs (Hungary) and Essen (Germany) – has also a political dimension for Turkey which began in 2005 the process of accession to the European Union. “Obviously, there is a connection between this title (of European Capital) and the European process of accession of Turkey, at least the possibility to show Turkey to Europe and Europe to Turkey,” Cengiz Aktar, specialist in Turkey – EU relations at Bahcesehir University from Istanbul told Mediafax.

“Istanbul-2010” agency, which deals with the programme of the cultural capital, has around 520 projects, two thirds of them being meant to highlight the historical patrimony, and one third being dedicated to the artistic events, the secretary general of the agency, Yilmaz Kurt says.

Some of the events which are going to take place are the opening in July of the “Museum of Innocence,” conceived by the laureate of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Orhan Pamuk, the exhibition “From Byzantium to Istanbul” (September-November) already presented in Paris, the European Festival of University Theatre (in May), or the U2 concert due in September.

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