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There are nearly a quarter of a million Turks living in Belgium, which began links with the Sublime Porte soon after the country was established in 1830. The future Leopold II visited Istanbul and his letters to his father, which describe life in the Sultan’s court, were published in Voyage à Constantinople 1860, edited by Sophie Basch and published by Editions Complexe in 1997. Belgian industrial know-how powered the fez factory (Fashene) when it moved out of Topkaki to the Golden Horn, though a plan to build a rail link from Samsun to Sivas was never realised. Paintings by the Belgian orientalist Julius Joseph Gaspard Starck, (1814–99) include The Scribe, held in Istanbul’s Pera Museum, and The Ottoman Encampment at Dusk, which sold at Christie’s in London in January 2013 for £8,125. One of Belgium’s most distinguished archaeologists is Marc Waelkens, responsible for the excavations at Sagalassos. Thomas Roueché talked to him in his Leuven office for a major feature in Cornucopia 48.
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