Istanbul – vibrant city of ancient and modern culture


Staying in the artistic Turkish haven of Cosmopolitan Park Hotel in the ancient heart of Istanbul, I was able to walk around all the tourist hot spots and find laneways to explore off the beaten track. My list of must see attractions included the Topkapi Palace, Aya Sofia, The Blue Mosque, the underground cistern, Old Spice Market and Grand Bazaar. They all provided such stimulation , learning about culture, history and traditions.

Drawing of the old city.

The highlight of my visit was the Turkish and Islamic Museum with its magnificent carpet collection.

Above: Wool and felted Dervish hats.

Feltmaking is a traditional craft and continues today.

Above: A felted garment/blanket made of felt about 1cm thick. It was used by shepherds to walk around in while tending sheep and to sleep in at night.


Industrial expansion in the 1960s and 1970s gave birth to the modern textile industry in Turkey. Currently, it is one of the most important sectors in the Turkish economy, accounting for 10 percent of GDP, 20 percent of the labor force, and 40 percent of total manufacturing output. This sector is the largest in the country and it is the largest supplier of exports as well. Today, Turkey is extremely competitive in international markets and was ranked sixth in world exports of clothing in 1998.

The fact that Turkey is a major grower of cotton is a great advantage for the textile and clothing sector. Thanks to the easy availability of the raw materials, Turkish spinning and weaving industries have developed significantly, creating integrated and diversified production in all sub-sectors of the textile industry. In terms of cotton spinning, the installed capacity in Turkey is equivalent to around 33 percent of that of the EU as a whole. The export value of cotton and cotton textile products was US$777 million in 1999 and the main destinations were the EU countries and the United States.

In addition to the cotton-based textile industry, Turkey makes a strong showing in both woolen textiles and man-made fibers. It is the third largest mohair producer and has the sixth largest synthetics capacity in the world. In 1999, the export value of wool or woolen textile products was US$107 million, while the man-made fibers industry accounted for US$1.1 billion.

The Turkish home textile industry has also been a strong competitor in world markets. Turkish towels and bathrobes, produced primarily around the western cities of Denizli and Bursa, enjoy a worldwide reputation for quality, and the home textiles sector accounted for 3.2 percent of Turkey’s total exports in 1999, bringing in US$859 million.

The clothing industry has shown stable growth over the years and is today one of the most important manufacturing sectors. In 1999, the production volume of clothing equaled 223,000 tons, and its export revenues reached US$6.2 billion, giving it a 23 percent share of Turkey’s total exports. The major markets for clothing exports are again the EU and the United States. The EU accounts for 71 percent of all clothing exports, and Germany leads all European countries with 38 percent of total exports. The clothing manufacturers are spread through the west and south of the country, with the majority based in Istanbul.


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