It was back in 2006 that the European Union decided to nominate Istanbul as the European capital of Culture for 2010. It is the goal of the European Union with this project to bring to the forefront cities within Europe. It gives the nominated city a chance to present its cultural riches to the world. There are two other cities that have been nominated as European Capitals of Culture this year and those cities are Essen in Germany and Pécs in Hungary. However, Istanbul stands out by far as the distinct capital of culture for its rich and dynamic history and heritage.
So, this is the year that Istanbul will showcase its cultural wealth to the world. No doubt, being nominated as the Capital of Culture will increase tourism and revenues to the city. Not only that, this honour will fuel the growth of art and culture in the city. It is an exciting time now to be in Istanbul. Preparation for the Capital of Culture projects have been ongoing for several years now, since the nomination. It will transform the city and inspire further cultural development and lead to a transformation of the city itself.
It is not surprising that Istanbul was nominated as the European Capital of Culture because of its location and its cultural heritage which extends thousands of years back in history. It is a city which bridges two continents, both east and west, its many identities, the modern and the ancient, blended with its rich and diverse history.
The city of Istanbul has taken up this challenge to be the city of culture very seriously. Numerous artistic and cultural projects have been developed for the year ahead.
Opening ceremonies began on January 16, 2010 in Istanbul, organized by the Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture Agency. Festivities were held in seven different parts of the city on opening night beginning at the Haliç Congress Centre and also in seven different centres of the city in the Squares of Taksim, Kadıköy, Sultanahmet, Pendik, Bağcılar and Beylikdüzü.
It was a most joyous occasion with fire cracker displays lighting up the night skies with a glorious shimmering of colored explosions and sparkles. A performance of “The Magic of Istanbul” choreographed by Yekta Kara included 303 artists revealing the multicultural heritage of dance, poetry and music in Istanbul. Performers included the Istanbul State Opera and Ballet Choir, the State Ballet, the Istanbul historical Music Group, Silivri Folk Dance Group, the Sephardic Synagogue Prayers Choir, the MFÖ, the Istanbul State Orchestra Children’s Choir, the Yarkin Percussion Group, Incesaz, Sertab Erener, Bekir Ünlüataer, Kevork Tavitay, from Kubat, Zuhal Olcay, Fatih Erkoç, Dilek Turkan, Aynur, Yetkin Dikinciler and the Istanbul State Symphony Orchestra.
This joyous occasion is just a glance at the festivities of culture and art the city of Istanbul will present to the world in the way of the visual arts, music, dance, film, literature, theatre, traditional arts and urban culture. This is surely a special time to be in Istanbul, 2010. If you are planning to visit Istanbul this year to take part in this special event, you had better book your hotel in Istanbul soon, because rooms are filling up fast. Istanbul, 2010, the European Capital of Culture.