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Contents / Magicians in a magical city

One pulled the sultan’s watch from the belly of a fish, another made severed heads converse with spectators... Such were the famous magicians of Istanbul’s past.

The Ottomans were very advanced in the art of illusion, as they were in the other branches of the performing arts. During the empire’s decline however Western culture tended to dominate these unique arts. Consequently, as the Ottoman art of illusion was waning, accomplished foreign artists began making frequent visits to Istanbul. We would like to tell you about some prominent figures from this world of magic.
The daily papers are our most important source for the subject. Since the first daily appeared in 1840, we will focus here on the magicians that came starting from this date.

Bartolomeo Bosco, an Italian magician and one of the 19th century’s most famous conjurors, came to Istanbul in 1839.

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