Book Recommendations to Learn About The Pearl of Istanbul Pera Palace Hotel

Witnessing the mesmerizing history of Istanbul, a perfect mix of neo-classical, art nouveau and oriental styles; Pera Palace Hotel built in 1892 to serve the passengers of Orient Express, today continues to accommodate visitors with magnificence as if it was built yesterday. Visited by valuable guests who inspire us with their words and actions, Pera Palace Hotel allows us to touch innumerable stories. Let’s look into this mysterious historical hotel in Beyoglu which inspired many writers through the lens of literature.

1. Midnight in Pera Palace: Charles King


Rising between marble staircases like a birdcage, the wooden and metallic construct elevator was the second operating elevator in Europe (first being the elevator of Eiffel Tower). Beneath the high glass dome was the baroque dining room, next to the false marble-clad, latticed screen lobby. The magnificent façade of the building was facing Pera, the most popular neighborhood of Istanbul. The main street, which Istanbulites called Grande Rue in the 19th century and afterwards, was lined with the embassies of the world’s most powerful states.

Charles King’s Midnight in Pera Palace book holds light to the birth of modern Istanbul and takes the reader on an adventurous voyage to the jazz and exile period of Istanbul. Just like the psychological drama TV series inspired by it, produced by Karga Seven Pictures, directed by Emre Şahin, written by Elif Usman and featuring lead actors Hazal Kaya and Selahattin Paşalı. Midnight in Pera Palace will air on March 3rd Thursday on Netflix, taking us to this voyage through the 130 year history of Pera Palace museum hotel.

2. Serenade: Zulfu Livaneli

“I had good days in my life of course, but it wasn’t just about happiness. The important thing was to know that you are living, to feel that life has a meaning, a value”. Serenade novel, by one of the contemporary authors in Turkish literature Zulfu Livaneli, is about a ship that sinks near Şile during World War II and a sad love story. It begins with the law professor of German descent Maximilian Wagner and his guide Maya walking into the Pera Palace Hotel.

3. Murder on the Orient Express: Agatha Christie

“A murder is committed on the famous Orient Express operating between Istanbul and Paris in 1930s. Detective Hercule Poirot is also a passenger on the train and he has only a couple of hours to solve the mystery.”

One of the expert authors of crime literature, Agatha Christie’s every novel is a pleasure but Murder on the Orient Express, written in 1933, is a unique delight! Maybe because of familiar silhouettes or maybe because it has some ambiance of Istanbul and Pera Palace Hotel in it.

4.  The Pera Palas, A Historical Hotel Overlooking the Golden Horn: Jak Deleon

The Pera Palace, situated on the hills above the Golden Horn, is more than a hotel; it is a museum harboring facts and legends from the recent history of İstanbul, a monument to the bygone splendors of the “Pearl of the Orient”.

To write the Pera Palace book consisting of “Orient Express, History and Celebrities, Pera Palace and Ataturk, Pera Palace and Agatha Christie, Pera Palace and Assasination, Pera Palace and Spies” chapters Jak Deleon stayed in Pera Palace Hotel room 501 for 5 months. The author mentions only the archival work took 6 months. Pera Palas is a beacon from our recent past and tailored exquisitely to be the valuable key for traveling in time.

5. Shadow Play in Pera Palace

Shadow Play in Pera Palace written by Kayahan Demir, who was born in Istanbul in 1988, published in 2021 and mentioned previously in our Crime Fiction in Turkey: Authors You Must Read article takes crime fiction aficionados on an adventure to the mysterious facts of history. Starting with the history filled corridors of Pera Palace Hotel, story goes on to the Yıldız Palace, Beylerbeyi Palace and the abandoned corridors in the mausoleum of Sultan Mahmud II.

“Beautiful things come out of hardships. Easily obtained things have dubious quality…”

6. Concentric: Göksel Altınışık – Ali Ergür

The story book Concentric is about emails between Goksel Altınışık and Ali Ergur. One of the special things about this book is that the first story is set in Pera Palace Hotel. More importantly it came to life thanks to a wonderful coincidence beyond place and time, just as this magnificent hotel. Goksel Altınışık talks about this “it was a special coincidence for us to be invited to a wedding there when the book was being prepared for publishing. I didn’t connect the dots at the time; It may be because I haven’t actually picked up the book yet, and I haven’t read the first story with excitement, happiness and passion as if we hadn’t written it. When my book arrived, when I started to read it from the beginning, even as I finished the story and continued to progress through the pages, my mind suddenly became clear. We were to be in the main location of the first story for the celebration of another love. The connection was now obvious to my dreams; I only had to take action to make it real. The way opened up by itself.

7. Breathless: Ayşe Kulin

Written by Ayse Kulin, Breathless is a book submerged in historical mysteries and ambiance just like Pera Palace Hotel. The love between Selva, daughter of an Ottoman pasha Fazıl Reşat, and Rafael, a Jewish young man, is not approved by their families. They hold against the tide to get married, after the wedding they have their reception dinner in the Pera Palace Hotel and the story begins…

 “Life was worth living, even in a narrow corridor of a train.”

8. Pera Diaries: Land of the Blind

Written by Delal Arya and published by Can Children Publishing for 10 year and older children, first book of the Pera Diaries is Land of the Blind. Ran and his twin sibling Lusin have no idea the biggest secret of history awaits them in Istanbul. What exactly is hidden under the Pera Palace Hotel? Colorful memories of the childhood of Delal Arya spent traveling the oceans seep into the lines of her books, born in 1979, a graduate of Italian High School and Bilgi University Cinema TV department. Just as the many stories we witness when we visit the Pera Palace Hotel.


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