Food and Travel

The Art Lover's Guide to Istanbul

Istanbul is more than the meeting place of East and West. It is a collision of ancient and modern, a medieval body with a 21st-century mentality. One moment you see old men sipping glasses of scalding tea outside the Sultan’s Harem, the next, an Armani-suited businessman zooms past in a Mercedes while trading shares on his mobile phone. Your senses are assailed by aromas and colours – saffron and cinnamon, roses and bougainvillea, bright yellow silk scarves, turquoise tiles, red Anatolian carpets. This week there is even more to take in than usual as the 14th Biennial of Art opens, bringing hundreds of art world habitués to the Sublime Porte. Curator Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev has gathered 1,500 artworks by more than 80 international artists. With exhibitions in 36 eclectic locations around town, you’re likely to encounter the can’t-miss sites of this teeming metropolis. —John Brunton