The glories of Istanbul have arrived in Paris.
From white marble statues of Greek and Roman gods to gleaming medieval Christian icons to a huge red Ottoman tent, an exhibition devoted to Istanbul seeks to expand French awareness of the city's multicultural heritage in a country deeply skeptical of Turkey's European aspirations.
Some 300 works of art from museums in 14 countries in Europe, Turkey and Qatar cap two years of work to create the exhibit "Fromto Istanbul" at the . Some of the pieces from Turkish museums have left their country for the first time.
Bathed in subdued red light, the exhibition takes the visitor through 8,000 years of history of the "city of a hundred names" known as Byzantium, thenand now Istanbul. It focuses on its role linking Europe and Asia as "one port for two continents."
The exhibition, opened this month by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Turkish President Abdullah Gul, is the centerpiece of the "Year of Turkey," a panoply of some 400 Turkish cultural events over nine months offering everyone a chance to become better acquainted with Turkey's culture.