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Strolling around Istanbul, it pays to keep your eyes on your feet. Too great a fascination with one’s surroundings – at the expense of keeping a beadie eye on the pavement in case of unexpected potholes – can prove a painful mistake. But Balconies of Istanbul is just the book to tip the balance between a desire for self-preservation and enjoyment of one’s surroundings in favour of the latter. For the rewards of looking around are rich. The lament for the speed at which the fabric of Istanbul is disappearing – despite a panoply of regulations designed to protect it from the wrecker’s ball – is unanimous. And the city’s balconies are an integral part of this fabric.
The glorious colour photographs in Balconies of Istanbul record more than 120 such architectural gems, in materials from stone and concrete to wood and iron, and in styles from Art Nouveau to Art Deco, utilitarian to fantastic. The buildings they grace range from the well known, such as the imposing Botter Han on Istiklâl Caddesi, to the modest domestic façades of houses in the city’s side streets. Published in both Turkish and English, this handsome paean to an aspect of Istanbul that is disappearing before our eyes is a book with a mission: to raise awareness of what is lost and what remains – but can yet be saved given a change in attitude. Since these photographs were taken, some of these balconies have been destroyed. Others have been deformed, such as one outside a restaurant whose intricate ironwork is wreathed in plastic ivy – apparently the clientele prefer it. Changing attitudes is no easy task, but you have to start somewhere. Istanbul’s doors, it seems, will get the treatment next.
A special report on the Royal Academy’s amazing ‘Turks’ exhibition
Kate Clow, creator of Turkey’s first official walking route, has done it again. Caroline Finkel joined her on the new St Paul Trail, which crosses southern Turkey’s giant Taurus range. The photographs in this stunning 14-page article are by Kate Clow with Terry Richardson
The börek has an extensive place in Turkey’s culinary repertoire, and the choice of fillings is infinite. From cheese to spicy ground meat or suateéd meat cubes with nuts and raisins; from chicken or turkey to fish and lentils; from offal such as brain or tripe to vegetables – the list is almost endless.
More cookery features
Brave new wines from Turkey. Kevin Gould on the independent spirit of Turkish wine makers. Photograph by Berrin Torolsan
Old favourites and new attractions: Andrew Finkel samples Istanbul’s best meyhanes. Photographs by Simon Wheeler
After years of wandering in western China, Afghanistan and Pakistan, a group of Kirghiz have finally made a lasting home in the highlands of eastern Anatolia. The historian Hasan Ali Karasar, who as a boy in Van witnessed their arrival, recounts their extraordinary tale. Photographs by Jonathan Henderson
The most wondrous tiled dome, the biggest and best-ever food bazaar, the most handsome man in the world… Uzbekistan, as Min Hogg discovers, inspires a profusion of superlatives, even if she tangles with the transport. In Samarkand, Tamerlane’s fabled capital, she finds herself lost for words. Photographs by Min Hogg
After years of delving deep into the origins of writing and language Kâzım Mirşan has put forward an astonishing claim: that at the root of it all is an ancient, proto-Turkish mother tongue. Genius or dreamer? Christian Tyler meets a man whose hypotheses threaten to turn the very history of man on its head.
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