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Issue 21, 2000

Ottoman Damascus

£8.00 / $10.34 / €9.50
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Damascus, the perfumed city: Brigid Keenan takes us on a grand tour. And we go in search of Istanbul’s heathlands – a precious ecosystem under threat – gossip about Vita and Harold in Istanbul; watch the stunning Dancers of the Steppes attempt Ararat; and watch Moda in the Great South Wind before cooking up a storm with spinach and purslane


  • Green & Green: Spinach and Purslane

    It was not until the sixteenth century when Catherine de’ Medici introduced spinach to France on her arrival from Florence as the bride of Henri II, that it was recognised as a food in its own right. Any dish with spinach is still ‘a la florentine’.
    More cookery features

  • Damascus, The Perfumed City

    Said to be the world’s oldest continuously inhabited city, Damascus shows the traces of countless rulers, from the Arameans to the French. But it is the Ottomans whose influence is most clearly visible in the old city today. By Brigid Keenan. Photographs by Tim Beddow

  • Vita and Harold go East

    Cornucopia was instrumental in reissuing a forgotten novel by Harold Nicolson, set in Istanbul. First published in 1921, Sweet Waters draws heavily on Nicolson’s experience as a diplomat in the city in the 1910s. It is also a highly autobiographical reworking of his courtship of Vita Sackville-West, as a new foreword by their son, Nigel Nicolson, reveals. By Aslı Aydıntaşbaş

  • The house that came out of the blue

    It was only to stop a property dealer painting the selamlık blue that the Germen family acquired a Bosphorus yalı to look after. This pavilion, on a glorious stretch of the Anatolian shore, enjoys southerly views all the way to the Topkpapı and sunsets to die for. Patrica Daunt meets the latest owners of this former royal residence

  • Greenbelt or Backyard?

    These are the last great heathlands of Eastern Europe, one of the world’s rarest natural habitats. Unless they receive a last-minute reprieve, they will be bulldozed out of existence. Andrew Finkel reports on the dilemma facing the planners in Istanbul. Botanical notes by Andrew Byfield

  • Miracles in miniature

    Levnî and the Surnâme, by Esin Atıl, gives a spirited and vivid pictorial narration, from the brush of arguably the greatest of all Ottoman miniaturists, of the last great Ottoman festival. This was held in Istanbul in 1720, with all the splendour and magnificence for which the empire was famed. Christine Thomson reviews the Koçbank publication.

Inside the issue


  1. Levni and the Surname, by Esin Atil
    Reviewed by Christine Thomson
    [available online]
  2. The Palace of Tears, by Alev Lytle Croutier.
    Reviewed by Philippa Scott.
  3. The Tulip, by Anna Pavord.
    Tulipomania, by Mike Dash.
    Reviewed by Patricia Morison.
    [available online]
  4. Damascus: Hidden Treasures of the Old City, by Brigid Keenan.
    Reviewed by John Carswell
    [available online]


  1. Green & Green
    Delicious recipes for purslane and spinach,
    by Berrin Torolsan.
    [available online]

Regular Features

  1. Connoisseur
    A viewer's guide to exhibitions and salerooms. Contributions by Philip Mansel and Philippa Scott.
  2. Despatch
    Suna Erdem on progress since the 1999 earthquakes.
  3. Traveller
    A brave attempt on Mount Ararat, by Kate Clow.
  4. Trade Secrets
    The chandelier men, by Elizabeth Meath Baker.
  5. Village Voices, by Azize Ethem.
  6. Istanbul Diary, by Andrew Finkel.
  7. Eating Out, by Andrew Finkel.
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