Swiss days to represent Turkish, Swiss industrial heritages
Swiss days to represent Turkish, Swiss industrial heritages
Swiss days, an organization to promote one of Europe’s most dynamic countries, will take place at a very special location in Istanbul, representing the two countries’ industrial heritages. The Bomonti Beer Factory that was established by the Swiss Bomonti Brothers will after more than 100 years become the stage of a mini festival that will highlight Turkish-Swiss relations. Organized in other countries under different names, Swiss days will take place for the first time in Turkey, and the organizers could not find a better location that symbolizes the historic relations between the two countries.

The distant relatives of the Bomonti brothers will come to Istanbul to be present during Swiss days. Historic district of manufacture Bomonti factory which gave its name to the neighborhood is located in Şişli district, at the very center of Istanbul, was also home to a factory that Nestle built in 1920. The Bomonti Brewery, which was established at the beginning of the 1890’s during the industrialization period of the Ottoman Empire, had recently undergone complete renovation and repurposing to become a cultural center under the name Bomontiada (“Ada” means island in Turkish). Swiss days will, however, take place under the shadow of a controversial development, which might see the demolition of the historic site to give way to new buildings.

In the past home to Greek, Armenian and other non-Muslim communities, Şişli remains one of the most densely-populated areas. The neighborhood maintained its cosmopolite character even after non-Muslim minorities left Istanbul and continued over the years to be a commercial and cultural hub. The factory was the first beer factory founded in a predominantly Muslim country. The Turkish state took over the factory in the 1930s and it ceased to produce beer in 1991.



Not only luxury watches

In the last decade, Bomonti started to become a very popular neighborhood with the rapid construction of modern high-rise apartments, cafes, offices, and restaurants. Bomontiada has brought an additional dynamism to the area since the mid-2010’s, attracting large crowds as it is home to fancy restaurants, a music venue and an art gallery.

Parts of the plot accending the facilities were recently handed over to the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), with plans to construct a complex including a dormitory and a mosque, a project criticized by locals and the district mayor. “We do not approve projects that will harm the fabric and further increase the construction density,” said Muammer Keskin, the mayor of Şişli, at a press event last week to inform about the Swiss days. Keskin said that Şişli Municipality, together with the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, was scheduled to meet the officials from the Directorate of Religious Affairs this week “to meet on a common ground and decide what’s best for Bomonti.” “We have a very big interest in that site. But we cannot interfere. We can only offer our suggestions if we are asked by the stakeholders,” said Beat Schmid, the acting Swiss consul-general in Istanbul. Swiss days will start on Sept. 20 by the Swiss Turkish Economic Forum where Faruk Eczacıbaşı will deliver a speech on artificial intelligence. The activities aim at promoting Switzerland’s leading brands and businesses which the organizers say is not limited to chocolate and luxury watches. Education stands as one of the areas Swiss officials want to promote, aiming at attracting especially university students willing to study abroad.
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