Pera… A center of attraction that has always managed to make its name known since the establishment of Istanbul, which has a history of thousands of years. Pera, where the heart of entertainment, art, and culture beats within the borders of Istanbul, has an important place in the dusty pages of history as it does today. Pera has hosted many values from the past to the present with its characteristic buildings bearing the traces of world architecture, works of art, and lively streets, and continues to do so. One of those values, Midnight at Pera Palace, reminded us once again. The series takes Pera Palace Hotel as its center due to its story. As the episodes progress and the story expands, the Garden Bar stands out as another important location in the story. The Garden Bar actually stands out as one of the values of Pera of the period.
The Place That is Carrying the Spirit of Pera: The Garden Bar
Image Source: https://manifold.press/garden-bar
The Garden Bar goes through different processes until it reaches its original reputation. Firstly, in the days of the Second Constitutional Era, it existed as a wooden pavilion by the Union and Progress on the plot right next to Pera Palace.
An exhibition has sold the items that had been donated by philanthropists during the Ottoman Period, opened with an enthusiastic ceremony on 10 October 1908 under the patronage of Sultan Mehmed V. Reşat. This exhibition also enables Ottoman intellectuals to turn to Pera, which attracted more attention from non-Muslims at that time. The venue, which will later be called the Garden Bar, makes its name more popular thanks to the bazaar organized by the Hilal-i Ahmer (Kızılay).
After the cholera pandemic captivated Istanbul, embroideries and hand knits are offered for sale here, made by well-known families in order to help the destitute people.
Natanson, a Bulgarian Jewish person who took over the venue from Kızılay in 1910 and started the cinema shows after naming it the Garden Bar. The Garden Bar, which started to turn into an attraction center with furniture from Vienna and under the command of the famous Hugue, passes under the patronage of Jean Lehman and his partners, one of the famous impresarios of the time, when the calendar leaves show the year 1912. In place of the Garden Bar, which burned down in 1914, a more flamboyant building has been built this time. The customers of the place, for which Turks did not knock on the door very often due to the influence of the Balkan Wars, are generally Europeans.
With its theaters, dance shows, and colorful shows, The Garden Bar has become one of the most popular entertainment venues, not only in Pera and the Balkans but possibly the entire Europe as well. Especially in Turkish arrangements that are made from Russian songs, the sound of entertainment gets louder. Istanbul meets vodka for the first time under the shadow of entertainment. Revue ensembles presenting stage performances from Vienna, Paris, and other major European cities are guests at the Garden Bar.
The Garden Bar, which continued to open its doors to the important artists and musicians of Europe after the Republic, managed to maintain its charm. The reflection of the program of the night of November 10, 1938, of the venue, which even hosted the Republic celebrations, in a way prepared its own end. Again, the news that the Garden Bar and the summer stage would be demolished with the decision taken by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality was published in the newspapers.
Pera Values That Surrendered to Time
The famous Maksim is at the top of the Pera values, which surrendered to time and blended into the dusty pages of history. The biggest feature of Maksim, which has an important place in the entertainment life of Istanbul, is that it introduced Istanbul to Western-style dances and nightlife. Competing with the Garden Bar, Maksim also played a role in the Westernization and modernization efforts of the Republic of Turkey. Music groups from Russia, France, and the USA were also taking the stage at Maksim, which introduced jazz to Turkey. After the competition increased and the Russians returned to their countries, Maksim’s founder Thomas could not pay his debts and went bankrupt. Maksim, which was closed for a while, later turned into a casino where Turkish headliners took the stage.
Another symbol of Pera, the Taksim Municipality Casino opened its doors splendidly on 29 October 1939 with the participation of İsmet İnönü. The casino, which also includes a jazz club, was a republic project. It served as a place symbolizing modernization until 1967 before it was demolished.
Another important venue Pera hosted was the Tokatlıyan Hotel. This hotel, built by Mıgirdiç Tokatlıyan, also gave the stage to famous musicians of that period. The Tokatlıyan Hotel, which survived until the 1950s, found itself an important place in Pera. Tokatlıyan Hotel also closed its doors after its owner, Mıgirdic Tokatlıyan, first settled in France and later passed away.
Pera’s Heart Keeps Beating at Pera Palace Hotel
Continuing to carry the spirit of the time by challenging the years, Pera Palace Hotel also keeps the spirit of Pera, which is longed for. The hotel, which is one of the rare Pera values that has survived from the past centuries, shines as one of the symbolic structures of this world district. Pera Palace greets you with the Kubbeli Salon, a corner of nostalgia as soon as you enter the hotel’s door. With its magnificent structure, it reflects the traces of Pera, which is told to you with longing. The hotel, which is identified with Pera with its architecture, portrays Beyoğlu, which you see on postcards, vividly when you open its doors. Witnessing history, hosting firsts, and collecting unforgettable memories, Pera Palace Hotel continues to keep Pera alive today with all it has. You can also enjoy the privilege of being a guest at Pera Palace Hotel’s venues, where Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Agatha Christie, and Ernest Hemingway hosted many respected names of the period and today.