Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey, was the capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires. The Bosphorus straits divides the city into a part that sits on the European continent, and a larger part on the continent of Asia. The militarily and economically strategic position of the city, on the western portion of the Silk Road, and on the shipping route between the Aegean and Black Seas, has kept it cosmopolitan and prosperous since its foundation 660 BCE, when it was called Byzantium. In 330 it became Constantinople, the capital of the Roman Empire, named for Emperor Constantine the Great. The Ottomans conquered the city in 1453/857 AH and renamed the city Istanbul. It served as their capital until Ankara became the capital of the modern nation of Turkey.
Burkay, Helin. '"English abstract of 'Hotels of Old Istanbul'". Translated by Helin Burkay. In Cities as Built and Lived Environments: Scholarship from Muslim Contexts, 1875 to 2011, by Aptin Khanbaghi. 39. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014.
Zat, Vefa. Eski İstanbul Otelleri. İstanbul: Bilge Karınca, 2005, 256pp.
Hotels of Old Istanbul
Eski İstanbul Otelleri
This 248 page book is a historical study on the hotels in Istanbul which covers the history of travel and accommodation. It begins with an overview of travelling and places of hospitality dating from the Byzantine period, before focusing on the modernisation of the hotels and urban public space in Istanbul between the 1850s and 1950s. The author sees both the Tanzimat era (1850s) and the opening of the Hilton in 1955 as turning points in the history of Istanbul’s tourist establishments. While covering the gradual transformation of Istanbul at this period, Zat examines in detail the evolution of the most prominent hotels of Istanbul such as Hotel D’Angleterre, Grand Hotel De Londres, Halki Palas and Pera Palas.
During the Republican period, the hotels offered not only accommodation but became important spaces for urban entertainment and social interaction. The author focuses on the emergence of travel agencies from the 1930s and talks about the first touristic activities.
In addition to the history of hotels in Istanbul, the book also examines the modernisation of taverns, theatres and other public spaces in Istanbul. Zat includes some personal anecdotes and experiences. Throughout the book the author emphasizes the pioneering role of the non-Muslim communities of Istanbul, not only in the emergence of the modern night-life entertainment, but also in the construction and management of modern hotels.
Researchers interested in the urban history of contemporary Istanbul can use this book as a primary source. The book is also enriched by the visual material provided from the personal archive of the author. However, given the numerous personal views and descriptions and large sections from the author's previously published works the authenticity of the writer’s analysis should be considered with caution.