The Wait is Over: The Iconic Istanbul Atatürk Cultural Center Reopens

Istanbul’s Atatürk Cultural Center reopened its doors to art lovers on October 29, 2021, the 98th anniversary of Turkish Republic Day. Known as Atatürk Kültür Merkezi (or AKM in short) by the locals, the newly-built contemporary structure references its former, iconic design.

The AKM is one of the most important investments of the Beyoğlu Culture Route, established by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism as Türkiye’s one of the largest arts and culture project to date. The Centre marks the start of the culture avenue, and its reopening launches the International Beyoğlu Culture Route Festival, also developed by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Minister of Culture and Tourism, Mehmet Nuri Ersoy, inaugurated the Istanbul Atatürk Cultural Center in an opening ceremony attended by prominent figures from the business, arts and academic spheres, as well as representatives from non-governmental organizations, and local and foreign media outlets.

Completely reconstructed in 2.5 years by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism at a cost of TL 2 billion, the AKM welcomes visitors throughout the year to a 49,000-square-metre, 2040-seat Opera House equipped with the state-of-art technology. The Centre also features a 16,300-square metre, 802-seat Theatre Hall, the 410-square-metre AKM Gallery and the AKM Multipurpose Hall.

In addition to the aforementioned halls, the AKM offers an indoor area of approximately 100,000 square metres, consisting of a Gallery, a Multipurpose Hall, a Children’s Art Centre, a music platform, a music recording studio, and a library designed as an information centre for specialized topics such as music, art, architecture and design. The renewed complex also includes the AKM Yeşilçam Cinema and spaces such as the Design Shop, along with rehearsal areas, soloist and orchestra study rooms, restaurants, a cafeteria, book cafés, workshops, and administrative and technical units.

The world premiere of the Sinan Opera held at the opening of the AKM

Composed at the request of President Erdoğan, “Sinan Opera” held its world premiere at the reopening of the AKM. Staged by the Istanbul State Opera and Ballet, the opera, an original work by a Turkish composer, was brought to the stage by the renowned Italian director Vincenzo Grisostomi Travaglini.


The epic performance, centred on Mimar Sinan, one of the world’s greatest architects, is directed by the conductor Gürer Aykal. The opera was composed by the contemporary Turkish classical music composer Prof. Hasan Uçarsu, and the libretto was written by Dr. Bertan Rona, based on the script of the same name by Halit Refiğ.


The audience is introduced to events taking place during the construction of the Mihrimah Sultan Mosque and the Süleymaniye Mosque. The construction of the latter, considered Mimar Sinan’s masterwork, extended over seven years, causing some state officials to side against Sinan. The opera also touches on the Ottoman victories, the tradition of being a great state, and spiritual values against the backdrop of the friendship of Suleiman the Magnificent and Mimar Sinan.

The New AKM will be Istanbul’s Cultural Heartbeat

The AKM, which plays a vital role in Istanbul’s goal of becoming a globally leading arts centre, will continue its mission of cultivating, supporting and presenting art, drawing visitors from all walks of life to experience rich content. The new AKM will serve as an example for similar structures in Türkiye.

The operating model of the building, which was conceived with the latest and most advanced technology, is a key element in differentiating the structure. Prior to its construction, a team of experienced professionals evaluated numerous structures with similar functions throughout the world, and also consulted with leading figures in Türkiye’s cultural spheres.

Resident institutions in the new Atatürk Cultural Center include the Presidential Classical Turkish Music Choir, the Istanbul State Opera and Ballet, the Istanbul State Theatre, the Istanbul Symphony Orchestra and the Istanbul State Turkish Music Ensemble affiliated with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

The AKM campus includes an opera house with a capacity of 2,040 seats and an 802-seat theatre, as well as units with different functions set along a pathway called “Culture Street.” In addition, the campus features a multipurpose hall that can accommodate exhibitions, concerts, theatre performances, conferences and meetings.

The AKM Gallery is on the facade facing Taksim Square, next to the main building housing the iconic sphere. Featuring a soaring, prismatic design at the entrance to the Culture Street, The Gallery also fulfills the need for an exemplary exhibition hall in Istanbul. The space will host exhibits by selected contemporary artists.

An Important Concert from the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the New AKM

The Istanbul Atatürk Cultural Center welcomes the London Philharmonic Orchestra during its opening week.

The London Philharmonic Orchestra, considered one of the finest symphony orchestras in the world and featuring almost 100 musicians, will perform a dedicated repertoire on the new AKM stage on October 31. “Haydar Haydar,” composed by veteran Turkish composer Özkan Manav for the orchestra, is also included in the program. For the first time, the London Philharmonic Orchestra will perform the work of a Turkish composer.

The soloist of the concert, led by Italian-born British conductor Robin Ticciati, will be pianist Francesco Piemontesi, considered one of the finest living interpreters of Mozart’s music.

On November 2, the Grammy-winning trumpeter Chris Botti –among the greatest jazz musicians alive today– will perform with his ensemble at the Atatürk Cultural Center Opera House as part of the opening concerts.