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THE MOST FAMOUS HOTELS IN THE WORLD

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PERA PALACE HOTEL ISTANBUL

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Istanbul

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Pera Palace Hotel

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ANDREAS AUGUSTIN


THE MOST FAMOUS HOTELS IN THE WORLD

‘Seen from the anchorage or from a mile or so up the Bosphorus, it is by far the handsomest city we have seen. ... Constantinople makes a noble picture.’ Mark Twain, American writer Istanbul, 1869

74 September 2011

Once we accept the pleasant challenge to research the history of a legendary hotel, we encounter the contradicting terms ‘researching’ and ‘legend’. Do legends still need proof or just good story-telling? ‘Along the Bosphorus history and legend struggle for supremacy, succeeding one another like its rolling waves,’ wrote the American travel writer John L. Stoddard in 1879. I’d like to add: ‘At the Pera Palace legend and reality succeed one another like the whirling wings of a revolving door.’ In 1892, the Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul was born as a child of growing demand for

luxurious accommodation at the ‘far end’ of the grand railway track, which started in the distant capitals of Europe and ended here, over 3,000 kilometres away, at the Eastern shores of the continent. The most famous train on that track was the Orient Express. The company who operated it ventured into hotels and founded the Compagnie International des Grand Hotels, reputably the first hotel chain in the world.

The Pera Palace Hotel was built in the European part of the city, on a hill in Pera overlooking the three main waterways of the city: the Golden Horn, the Marmara Sea and the Bosphorus.


PERA PALACE HOTEL ISTANBUL

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Its self-generated electricity lit the marvellous salons and halls of the hotel, powered the first hotel-elevator of the entire country and had the façade of the hotel beaming at night.

Authors like Ernest Hemingway, Agatha Christie, Graham Greene and Eric Ambler made it their playgrounds in fact and fiction. It became the most written about hotel of the Orient — a location of novels, poems and movies. Its guests included businessmen, spies, artists, diplomats, soldiers and politicians, among them the most important of them all: Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who virtually founded modern Turkey

from his room at the Pera Palace Hotel. And there were – or were they not? – the legendary names, the … well, I am looking forward to meeting you again, when we together go through our new book to explore the legends of the Pera Palace Hotel Istanbul, one of the remaining Most Famous Hotels in the World. Yours, as always

Andreas Augustin PERA PALACE HOTEL ISTANBUL by Andreas Augustin, 120 pages of solid history and entertaining storytelling about one of The Most Famous Hotels in the World.


THE MOST FAMOUS HOTELS IN THE WORLD

This is the story of the Pera Palace Hotel, which has its roots in a time when today’s Istanbul was still called Constantinople. It became famous at the end of the 19th century as the last of the legendary hotels of the European continent on a journey to the East. Ever since it has been an institution. It is about savoir vivre, five o’clock dances, lavish balls, fine food and splendid drinks. It is a book about supreme hospitality and it is a look behind the veil of a city that is steeped in the myths of the Orient.

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This is inevitably also a book about the grand Orient express writers who made the train and the hotel immortal. It is about spies, as the Pera Palace Hotel’s territory is at the border between two continents and at the crossroads of interest of all Super Powers on Earth. Meet the most famous names of the silver screen, politics and fashion who all enjoyed the discreet atmosphere of this fine palace on a hill, overlooking the most exciting city of Europe and its waterways, the ‘white’ Marmara Sea, the deep-blue Bosphorus and the peaceful waters of the Golden Horn. And it is a book about the people who saved the hotel and finally restored it to a modern grandeur it had never seen before.

Top left: Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who invented modern Turkey while residing at the Pera Palace; the historic elevator. Top right: the riddle of the key and its keeper — Agatha Christie. Musician Paul Hindemith influenced the Turkish school of composers, Graham Greene, Jaqueline Onassis, Mae West, the beauty of the silver screen and Paolo Coelho.

ISBN: 978-3-900692-37-7


Pera Palace Hotel Istanbul