After realising that I've been completely missing the giant outdoor ads in plain sight for the Annual Tulip Festival, I zipped over to Emirgan Park yesterday to check it out. It was the most beautiful spring day— the air full of bird song, with a deliciously warm sun hanging in the bluest sky. Emirgan Park is on the hill just before you reach the town of İstinye. It's a little hidden, you have to follow the brown signs that read Pembe Kösk and Sarı Kösk to get there. It's one of the most beautiful parks to spend an afternoon in, with plenty of paths to walk along, benches to read on, three outdoor cafés and a lovely pond complete with ducks and a waterfall.
After relaxing in the sun amongst the flowers, I visited the Sakıp Sabancı Museum (which is right at the bottom of the hill from the park) to see an exhibit of the first Western-style Turkish painters. It was an interesting collection, the work primarily influenced by the Impressionists, which fit the mood of the day perfectly.
The SSM was originally a mansion built in 1927 as a summer home for an Egyptian prince. It became known as the Atlı Köşk, or "Horse Mansion" for the horse statue in the front garden. Industrialist Hacı Ömer Sabancı purchased Atlı Köşk in 1950 and lived in it with his family until his death in 1966, when it was passed on to Sakıp Sabancı. The mansion housed a large collection of paintings and Ottoman calligraphy, and was given to Sabancı University in 1998 to be transformed into a museum.
The SSM opened to the public in 2002, and gained international acclaim in 2005 with new additions and exciting exhibitions. The first ever temporary exhibition of 135 never before shown Picasso paintings, Picasso in Istanbul, brought in more than 250,000 visitors. The second major exhibition at the museum was The Master Sculptor Rodin in İstanbul, which featured 203 pieces on loan from Musée Rodin in Paris— and with permission from the Musée Rodin, visually impaired people were invited to touch some of the sculptures. Labels were also printed in braille.
Before I was kindly reprimanded for snapping pictures, I managed to get a few shots of some fine examples of calligraphy. Having lived large portions of my life in Middle Eastern countries (by the way, Turkey is not in the Middle East as so many believe), I grew up with a fascination and love of Arabic script. In my opinion, no other script can match its flow and grace.