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Pera Palace Hotel

  • The Pera Palace was the gem of Pera district where people gathered to wine and dine and be entertained, as well as to discuss the issues of the day.
  • Pera Palace Hotel
  • Pera Palas, Пера Палас

  • Hotel
  • The Pera Palace was the gem of Pera district where people gathered to wine and dine and be entertained, as well as to discuss the issues of the day.

    Word Count: 29

  • There is no doubt that the Pera Palace was and still is the gem of the Pera district. However, it is important to understand that it was once more than just a hotel. It was a meeting place where people gathered to wine and dine and be entertained, as well as to discuss the important issues of the day.
    Construction of the Pera Palace Hotel began at the end of the 19th century. The building was designed by the architect Alexandre Vallaury (born Alexander Vallauri) and was built to accommodate the tourists who came to Istanbul on the long-distance passenger train, the Orient Express. The hotel’s restaurant served excellent food and wine, and its musical evenings were very popular. Balls were also held and Christmas and New Year were celebrated. According to Jak Deleon, after the First World War, occupying forces used the Pera Palace as their headquarters. In 1921, it also hosted the Russian bazaar, where, among other works, the icons of artist Natalia Yashvil (or Jašvili – Наталья Яшвиль, 1861–1939), who later left Istanbul for Prague, were presented. Every one of her icons was bought by an American collector before the bazaar even opened. On the subject of American collectors, one cannot fail to mention Thomas Whittemore, who was constantly greeted in the hotel lobby by Russian painters dreaming of selling him some of their new works. Here is what Eugenia S. Bumgardner wrote about Whittemore's room: "The French window in Mr. Whittemore's room opened on a gallery, with a marvelous view. Rising from the Golden Horn to the high hills, on which, in broken lines, she stretches from Seraglio Point to beautiful Eyoub five miles distant, lay Stamboul" (Bumgardner 1925, 53). The hotel also saw two remarkable exhibitions, in 1921 and 1922, by the Russian émigré painter Nikolai Becker (Николай Беккер, 1877–1962), who painted portraits of prominent people of the time (including Foster Waterman Stearns and Mark Lambert Bristol). However, the Russian painters were not the first to organise exhibitions at the hotel; Şeker Ahmet Paşa, a prominent Ottoman painter, had a major exhibition there in 1897. In addition to exhibitions, concerts were regularly organised by Russian musicians in the early 1920s. The authors of Les Russes sur le Bosphore almanac mention the Russian Salon Orchestra, conducted by the talented orchestra leader and violinist, Pavel Alekseevich Zamoulenko, and, according to the local newspapers, residents of Istanbul frequently had an opportunity to attend balalaika concerts. Baroness Valentina Taskina (1902–1992), who lived in Istanbul from 1920 until her death, wrote in her memoirs: “What a sight it was, this fantastic building reminding us Russian aristocrats of the palaces we had once known… On dusky, quiet evenings, the lights of the Pera Palace would rise like those of a majestic liner on a vast twilight sea. I spent countless hours at the Orient Express Bar with my sister Alexandra and my musician friends: Maestro Denisof played the balalaika, Maestro Artamonof sang old Russian songs, Natalie Protasyef danced and sometimes I accompanied them on the grand concert piano. Later, we would sip French cognac with guests and converse until the small hours of the morning” (Deleon 1998, 109). In addition, Alexander Vertinsky (who later settled in Shanghai and was a frequent performer at HLAM’s Wednesdays) lived at the hotel for some time: “Boris Putyata and I settled no more and no less than in the most fashionable hotel of Constantinople, the Pera Palace. We ironed our Russian ‘suits’ – actor’s famous ‘wardrobe’ –, looking at which entrepreneurs sternly appraised young actors, and [...] went out into the street. On the Grand Rue de Péra, many of our compatriots who had arrived before us were already walking back and forth. Putyata even stuck a carnation in his buttonhole. We walked just like at home – somewhere in Kharkiv, on Sumskaya” (Vertinsky 1991, 124).
    Among the hotel’s guests of honour was Agatha Christie, who, according to legend, was inspired to write her detective novel Murder on the Orient Express while staying at the Pera Palace. The hotel was also frequented by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk after 1917 and room 101, which he often used, was subsequently turned into a small museum. There are a myriad of stories to be told about this legendary hotel, which, despite restoration, remains a fine example of late-nineteenth-century Istanbul architecture. The Pera Palace had a sister hotel in Tarabya, the Summer Palace Hotel opening in 1893/94 and accommodating travellers on the Orient Express from May to October. The opening of the Park Hotel, located Ayaspaşa-Gümüşsuyu, in 1930/31 possibly increased competition in the luxury hotel segment in Istanbul.

    Word Count: 752

  • Kabristan Street 520 (now Meşrutiyet Cad. 52), Tepebaşı, Istanbul.

  • Pera Palace Hotel, Tepebaşı (SALT Araştırma, Fotoğraf ve Kartpostal Arşivi, Istanbul).
  • Pera Palace Hotel, Tepebaşı (SALT Araştırma, Fotoğraf ve Kartpostal Arşivi, Istanbul).
    Image of Pera Palace Hotel (Güneş Newspaper, 14 April 1991).
    Jazz-Band du Pera Palace by photographer Jean Weinberg (Les Russes sur le Bosphore Almanac, 1928).
  • Anonymous. “Bazar kn. M.V. Baryatinskoy.” Zarnitsy, 20 March 1921, p. 23.

    Anonymous. “Vystavka hudojnika N.N. Beckera.” Presse du Soir, 20 May 1922, p. 3.

    Anonymous. “Atatürk’den Agatha Christie’ye dek yüzlerce ünlüyü ağırlayan otelin kitabı yayımlandı. Pera Palas’ın tarihi ve konukları.” Güneş, 14 April 1991, n.p. Core, Accessed 2 January 2021.  

    Bournakine, Anatoliy, editor. Russkiye na Bosfore. Les Russes sur le Bosphore. Imp. L. Babok & fils, 1928.

    Bumgardner, Eugenia S. Undaunted Exiles. The McClure Company, 1925.

    Deleon, Jak. The Pera Palas. A Historical Hotel Overlooking the Golden Horn. Gözlem Gazetecilik Basın ve Yayın A.Ş., 1998.

    King, Charles. Pera Palas’ta Geceyarısı. Modern Istanbul’un Doğuşu. Translated by Ayşen Anadol, ALFA Tarih, 2019.

    Vertinsky, Aleksandr. Dorogoy dlinnoyu... İzdatel’stvo “Pravda”, 1991.

    Word Count: 131

  • Slavonic Library (Slovanská knihovna) in Prague.

    SALT Araştırma in Istanbul.

    Istanbul Çelik Gülersoy Library.

    Word Count: 17

  • Ekaterina Aygün
  • 1892
  • Istanbul
  • No
  • Ekaterina Aygün. "Pera Palace Hotel." METROMOD Archive, 2021,, last modified: 14-09-2021.
  • Rudolf Belling

    As a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts and Technical University in Istanbul from 1937 until 1966, Rudolf Belling taught his students the technicalities of form, material and proportion.

    Word Count: 28

    Alexis Gritchenko
    PainterArt Historian

    During the two years of his life that he spent in Istanbul, Alexis Gritchenko produced more paintings dedicated to the city than many artists produce in an entire lifetime.

    Word Count: 29

    Nikolai Becker
    PainterGraphic Artist

    Nikolai Becker worked tirelessly in Turkey for three years. He created at least 168 portraits of men and women (among them admirals and their families, commanders-in-chief, diplomats, etc.).

    Word Count: 27

    Russkiy v Konstantinopole/Le Russe à Constantinople

    The guide-book was created for Russian-speaking refugees who had to leave their country and settle in Constantinople.

    Word Count: 17

    Union of Russian Painters in Constantinople

    The Union existed for less than two years but in that short space of time a tremendous amount of work was done by its members, refugees from the Russian Empire.

    Word Count: 30

    Café / Restaurant

    Rejans (now 1924 Istanbul) restaurant, at the end of the Olivya Passageway is one of Beyoğlu’s landmarks. A relic of 1920s “Russian Istanbul”, where the original atmosphere has been preserved.

    Word Count: 31

    Park Hotel

    Park Hotel in Ayazpaşa- Gümüşsuyu was frequented by newly-arrived emigrants. Rudolf Belling and Paul and Gertrud Hindemith stayed there before moving into more settled accommodation or leaving town.

    Word Count: 31

    Foster Waterman Stearns

    Foster W. Stearns not only actively supported Russian-speaking émigré artists in Istanbul but also assembled a collection of their works which has survived to this day.

    Word Count: 26

    Les Russes sur le Bosphore

    The almanac Les Russes sur le Bosphore is a joint work of Russian-speaking émigrés in Istanbul who were faced with the challenge of leaving the country or becoming naturalised.

    Word Count: 30

    HLAM – Society for Artists, Writers, Entertainers and Musicians

    As Shanghai’s largest and most popular Russian émigré association focused loosely on art, HLAM provided a platform for weekly encounters between the self-professed bohemians and a general audience. The HLAM evenings included theatre scenes, comic routines, dance numbers and poetry readings.

    Word Count: 42