Day 21 – The Orient Express & Agatha Christie in Istanbul
Before leaving Istanbul, there was one very important site that Soraya insisted I see while being here. The Pera Palace Hotel is a historic luxury hotel in the European district of Beyoğlu on the European side and was known as the region of Pera (meaning Beyond in Greek, French spelling Péra and once called Little Europe) surrounding the ancient coastal town of Galata which faced Constantinople. Beyoğlu remained to be named Pera during the Middle Ages and, in western languages, into the early 20th century.
The Pera Palace Hotel was built in 1895 for the purpose of hosting passengers of the Orient Express, a long-distance passenger train service created in 1883 by the international company of Wagons-Lits and designed by architect Alexander Vallaury, a French-Ottoman architect, who was the founder of architectural education in the School of Fine Arts in Constantinople, Ottoman Empire. It was the first modern hotel in Istanbul to have electricity and an electric lift. A number of famous guests such as Elizabeth, Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph, Shah Reza Pahlavi, President of Yugoslavia Josip Broz Tito, General Franz von Papen, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Greta Garbo, Sarah Bernhardt, Alfred Hitchcock, Pierre Loti, Jacqueline Kennedy, Ninette de Valois, Mata Hari, Cicero and Mikis Theodorakis and Ernest Hemingway. Most importantly, it became the site of a very famous crime story by novelist Agatha Christie whose famous room was number 411 and carries her name to this day. One can relax in the Agatha Christie Room where she wrote the famous novel Murder on the Orient Express.
Most notably, room 101 which is now a museum in memory of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Pera Palace Hotel was his favourite place, where he stayed a number of times between December 1915 and October 1917.