Istanbul, Europa: Mezzanotte al Pera Palace


midnight at the pera palace - charles kingMia recensione dell’interessante saggio Midnight at the Pera Palace, di Charles King: che verrà pubblicata sul numero di dicembre di TimeOut, edizione inglese (perdonatemi per i sicuri errori: ma è il mio testo, prima del controllo redazionale).

Sul Pera Palace e sull’Orient Express ho anche scritto:

Nel magico mondo del Pera Palace, l’albergo più bello di Istanbul

Le stazioni di Istanbul, Sirkeci (e l’Orient Express)

C’era una volta l’Orient Express

La musica dell’Orient Express al Pera Palace

The Pera Palace Hotel, designed by the Levantine architect Alexandre Vallaury with Western-style comforts and an Orientalist touch, opened its doors in 1892 to host the passengers of the Orient Express. It was “the last whisper of the Occident on the way to the Orient”, as professor Charles King – author of scholarly works on the Black Sea, the Caucasus and Jewish Odessa – defines it in his recently published Midnight at the Pera Palace. The Birth of Modern Istanbul (W. W. Norton, 2014).

But this enchanting book, packed with revealing insights and anecdotes, gives only scant and passing attention to the hotel itself: there is not even an adequate description of its luxuriant interiors made up of velvets, marbles, boiseries, and evocative arabesque domed ceilings. The Pera Palace is not a main character, but only an occasional backdrop against which the transformations of Istanbul in the 20s and 30s – from cosmopolitan capital of a Muslim empire to peripheral and depopulated town of a republican nation-state proclaimed in 1923 – are recounted. King’s starting point is the patchwork ethnic and religious composition of Istanbul, where dailies were published in several languages and alphabets and where calendars differed in year, date, and even hours from a community to the other: indeed, it was only on New Year’s Day 1926 – at midnight, the midnight of the title – that a unified calendar was firstly introduced.

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(per leggere tutta la recensione, cliccate qui)

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