Famous People of Pera Palace Hotel… Sarah Bernhardt

At the end of the 19th century, Pera Palace Hotel was built in Beyoğlu, the heart of Istanbul, to host the precious guests of Orient Express, the most famous train of the period. From past to the present the hotel has been hosting the most notable names of the world. The famous French actress who is renowned for her role as “The Lady with the Camellias”, Sarah Bernhardt was one of the most important guests of the Pera Palace Hotel…

At the end of the 19th century, Sarah Bernhardt, one of the most famous actresses in Europe, had come to Istanbul four times. In one of them, she performed against Sultan Abdülhamid in the Yıldız Palace theatre. After the performance, Abdulhamid gave a medal to her due to her impressive exhibition.

The successful actress chose the Pera Palace Hotel for her stay in Istanbul. Istanbulites competed to watch her, she threw herself into the peaceful arms of Pera Palace Hotel and entertained those who wanted to see her.

Sarah Bernhardt’s first visit to Istanbul had been very glorious. The newspapers of the period wrote that additional exhibitions were set in the theatre for the renowned actress, and her shows were watched by 700 people every night. At the end of the 19th century, there was already a powerful artistic life in Beyoğlu. Almost every winter, world-famous artists would come to Beyoğlu with major tours.

Even though sources indicate that the famous actress Sarah Bernhardt has been on stage in front of Abdülhamid, some sources state that he did not want to watch her on the grounds that the actress “performs the death very well”. In conclusion, Bernhardt who is known to have come to Istanbul several times has taken the stage against Abdülhamid.

During her travels in Istanbul, Sarah Bernhardt spent a lot of time in Beyoğlu and loved it. In an interview with the actress by Saffeti Ziya Bey, one of the most famous writers of the period, Sarah was quoted as saying:

“The eyes of all Europe had returned to Turkey after the 1908 Revolution. I basically admire the Turks. I love the blue sea in the East. The only issue I would like to point out is the dirt that I found in some of the streets of a beautiful and historic city like Istanbul.”


The famous actress’ favourite parts of the Istanbul was, of course, Pera and its environs, frequently visited by the art circles of the time.


Pera and its surroundings, together with Pera Palace Hotel has witnessed the most famous names and events of the time. The fact that this history is still alive today is one of the greatest riches you can find around Beyoğlu …

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