“The first time in my life I saw Istanbul was long ago. I was a typical European tourist, struck as any sensitive youngster by the breathtaking beauty of the Golden Horn, the shores of the Bosphorus and the mosques and palaces. I was unaware then now important Istanbul would become to me one day. Now, years later, the city obtained a very special place in my heart, as it was in istanbul that I got married.
The sites my wife and I chase for our wedding are metaphors for Istanbul as I perceive it. The Pera Palas Hotel is a symbol of Istanbul's grand past as the meeting point between East and West, and a cultural melting pot. In the lobby, if you look around with half-closed eyes, you can still see the famous Europeans who arrived in Constantinople by Orient Express to meet in an atmosphere of oriental luxury and refinement with representatives from all over the Ottoman Empire.
Our wedding banquet took place in a completely different setting: in the contemporary premises of Istanbul Modern Museum on the shores of the Bosphorus. This Museum incarnates the booming town Istanbul today, and points to a glorious future of cultural diversity and artistic dudacity.
I am convinced that Istanbul plays an important role in the rapprochement between Turkey and European Union. Istanbul as the perfect symbol of a bond between East and West. To fully play this role, Istanbul should continue more than ever to show the EU and Turkey that tolerance and respect for differences, inclusion of minority cultures and recognition of the whole of its rich past are the key to success.”
Joost Lagendjik, Co-chairman of the Delegation of the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Commitee (2006)
Source: From the photography exhibition book: “The Soul of Isanbul”, p. 4-5