Istanbul’s Pera Palace to Reopen and Seek Return to Glory Era

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ISTANBUL (AP).- It was the last stop on the Orient Express, a grand hotel with Istanbul’s first electric elevator where artists and aristocrats sipped champagne beneath chandeliers as the Ottoman Empire dissolved and the world drifted toward war. Mata Hari, accused of spying and executed in France in 1917, stayed at the Pera Palace Hotel. So did Greta Garbo, who played the shadowy dancer in a 1931 movie. Ernest Hemingway checked in to report on war between Turks and Greeks. Agatha Christie is said to have crafted “Murder on the Orient Express” in Room 411. Then, like the empire it outlived, the hotel slid into decay. On Sept. 1, the state-owned Pera Palace will reopen after a two-year restoration that cost 23 million euros ($30 million), seeking to capture the lost sparkle of what was one of Istanbul’s most prominent landmarks. It is no longer the lone luxury hotel on a hill