We have all heard the sad story of countries like Greece and Spain, losing all economic stability and downgraded in Moody's and Standard & Poor's credit ratings. But do you realize that Turkey is the only country who's credit rating has been upgraded twice in one year with a double digit growth rate (10.3%) and is considered the best place for investment. It is the fastest growing member of the G20 and some say will rival the once powerful financial centers of Dubai and, perhaps, London.
One visit to Istanbul and this is evident. Everywhere you turn, there is massive construction taking place. On a drive from the airport into the city, you will at once realize that the city limits are expanding into areas that were once considered suburbs of the city. The fact is that the construction can not keep pace with the population that is flowing into the city to get a piece of the financial pie that is Istanbul.
Istanbul's skyline is drastically changing. For better or worse, high rises are emerging from its hills and there are entire city centers that were, just a mere year ago, nothing more than rural neighborhoods. Take for example the area now know as Maslak, Levent. Today it as know as Istanbul's Financial Center. A few years ago it was just a lot of auto shops and mechanic shops. Today only a smattering of these are left and are dwarfed next to the sleek and enormous office and residential spaces shooting into the skyline. Istanbul is becoming Restaurant and Bar mecca for Europe. I have not seen this much selection not even New York city. You can every cuisine in Istanbul ( Indian cuisine in Istanbul, Italian cuisine in Istanbul, French cuisine in Istanbul, Japanese cuisine in Istanbul, Latine cuisine in Istanbul, Chinese cuisine in Istanbul)
Zorlu Center, currently under construction (with cranes working non-stop, 24-hours a day, that I can see from my window), is a massive structure that is deemed to become a new city center with 5 functions: a culture and art center, luxury hotel, business center, shopping center and residences. It covers an area of 25 thousand square meters and is centrally located with transit lines for easy access (Gayrettepe Metro and Zincirlikuyu Metrobus Station). An additional 80 thousand square meters will be green space to balance the steel and concrete that exists next to it.
Even Mr. Donald Trump wants a piece of the action and financial success that is Istanbul. His Trump Towers consists of 2 towers, one residential and one office space that are connected by a 400,000-square foot luxury retail space. (There is no shortage of luxury retail in Istanbul!)
Just down the road from here into the heart of the Financial District is Sapphire, the tallest building in Istanbul (currently the tallest building in Europe) Sapphire is also a multi-use space with luxury residences, office space and 3 floors of high-end shopping, restaurants and even a golf driving range. Some of Istanbul Sapphire's high points are its incredible view- a 360 degree, panoramic view of Istanbul, never before seen from these heights. It also boasts the first enomatic wine bar / wine and spirits shop, Kavist where you can taste a variety of Turkish and International wines before you buy a bottle or two. If you are lucky, or on their mailing list and are informed, you can join a wine tasting with a rep from one of the wine companies, a lecture or one of their frequent happy hours that is popular with the after-work crowd that passes through on their way home. This is my favorite spot to start the night off right. (You can even order online at www.Kavist.com...they deliver!)
These award winning skyscrapers are just a few of the hundreds (or thousands) of structures that are changing the skyline of Istanbul. Personally I am always amazed at how this city constantly develops and matures while still retaining its authentic and rich, cultural past. After all, it is deserving of its current title, Istanbul 2010, European Capital of Culture.
Visit Istanbul this year and I suggest that you book your ticket early. It will be the hottest destination of Europe 2011. Don't forget to book your Blue Voyage cruise also ( Mavi yolculuk- Gulet ile mavi yolculuk, Turkish Gulet)