Istanbul will ring in the New Year as a European City of Culture. It’s a well-deserved honour, says Adrian Mourby, for they’re still digging up objects that could be the oldest signs of civilisation in the history of the continent.
New Year’s Eve in Istanbul is always noisy. As I waited for a cab in Taksim Square, people were throwing sparklers in the air. Someone was setting off firecrackers and the crowd were shouting happily, if incoherently, at the large public TV screens. I’d no idea what was being said but no one seemed angry. It was a random celebration of noise.
In front of the modern opera house, enormous speakers were belting out Sertab Erener’s hit “City of Hearts for Sale” while taxi drivers pounded their horns in time to Istanbul’s unofficial anthem. Everywhere, the night was full of the smell of cordite and sizzling meat. If I hadn’t been late, I might have stopped to enjoy the spectacle.
That was New Year’s Eve 2009; this year it’s going to be even wilder, I imagine, when 2010 ushers in Istanbul as Europe’s new Capital of Culture.
A travel piece about Europe’s Capital of Culture 2010 and continuing here from The Independent