5 Reasons to visit İstanbul this Fall 2022

The 17th İstanbul Biennial has opened its doors as of September the 17th, 2022 (and ongoing until November the 20th, 2022). Here are 5 reasons why you should book a trip to İstanbul and see the art programmes.

İstanbul is a marvelous city, frequented by tourists and art-enthusiasts alike. The city has its high and low seasons, for both tourism and art-events. Since the launch of the 17th İstanbul Biennial earlier this fall, the programme has been revealed to the public as “a great dispersal”, in the words of the curators: Ute Meta Bauer, Amar Kanwar, and David Teh. In other words, there is not just one location; in fact, there are around 12 different locations, all over the city, within the urban fabric of both the Asian and European sides. I, myself, visited İstanbul for the second time this year during the Biennial and was fortunate enough to explore the venues in person and on foot. Here are 5 reasons why you should book a trip to İstanbul this Fall before November 20. 

pera muzesi
  1. Visit the İstanbul Biennial

The İstanbul Biennial is a prestigious event and rich in heritage. This particular edition explores different themes and areas of intellect, including but not limited to: environmental concerns, climate change, activism, feminism, grassroots movements around the globe, and the politics of archiving. The selection of the venues range from as grand an institution as the Pera Müzesi to as low-key a public space as the Zeytinburnu Medicinal Plants Garden. The seminal work of the curators is an event not to be missed.


An interior view of the Çinili Hamam


Another interior view of the Çinili Hamam

  1. Newly opened Heritage buildings like the Çinili Hamam

The 16th century Çinili Hamam by architect Mimar Sinan was originally an Ottoman Turkish hamam, damaged by earthquakes and fires over the centuries. A restoration project was inaugurated in 2010, and this heritage building will reopen in 2023 as partly a hamam and partly a museum. The Biennial allows attendees to visit this structure as a rare glimpse of what is to come.

hagia sophia

The Grand Hagia Sophia Mosque, formerly the Hagia Sophia Müzesi

hagia sophia interior

Interior view of the Hagia Sophia Mosque

hagia eirene

Interior view of the Hagia Eirene, another grand Byzantine structure

  1. The Hagia Sophia is now a mosque

As of 2020, the Hagia Sophia Museum was refurbished into a mosque, what is now the Ayasofya-I Kebir Cami-I Şerifi. This was my 6th visit to the building and my first with it as a mosque. As a woman, I had to wear modest clothing and a veil, and of course, take off my shoes. The stone and marble flooring of the interior is completely covered in carpets. All iconography is shrouded by ropes and veils, which is temporarily revealed between prayer times. The exception is the Theotokos in the apse which is permanently veiled, as it is right above the mihrab. Make sure to visit anytime around but not during prayer times, and avoid on Fridays.

Visit the Hagia Eirene next door if you can; the structure is bare of any iconography but still astounding in its scale and design.

muze gazhane

Müze Gazhane, outdoors view

muze gazhane interior

Müze Gazhane, inside the Climate Museum

  1. Novel museums like the Müze Gazhane

Originally a gasworks facility to produce coal and gas in İstanbul, this project has been completely redesigned as an arts and culture centre and technology museum, having launched in just a little over a year ago. It is one of the sites of the İstanbul Biennial, and includes a Climate Museum. The outdoor sculptures are varied, and there is an outdoor area for festivals and concerts. Visiting places like these within the busy urban fabric of Kadıköy is quite refreshing and a must-see.



Künefe Katmer, a Turkish delicacy

  1. Taste the Turkish Künefe and Baklava

If you haven’t yet, now is a good time to try Turkish sweet dishes like Künefe Katmer and Turkish Baklava. Using the flavorful pistachio as the main ingredient, these dishes are rich in taste and aftertaste. You are going to want to pack some of these to take home with you!


And voilà! These are 5 reasons why you should book that trip and see İstanbul before the end of the fall season 2022. It will be an unforgettable journey, and one that is packed with flavor and learning.

The 17th İstanbul Biennial closes its doors on November 20, 2022, make sure to book your trip to İstanbul before it ends!


Follow IKSV İstanbul Biennial website here.

Follow the author Maie El-Hage’s account on Instagram here.