Europe

Istanbul's Reina: A glamorous 'must-do' for all

The Reina, seen from the water Image copyright Flickr: Aylamillerntor (Creative Commons)
Image caption The club is described by some tourists as a 'must see' in Istanbul

From the Reina nightclub and restaurant, guests usually gaze across the Bosphorus towards Asia, cocktail in hand.

Nestled on the European side of Istanbul, Turkey's cosmopolitan city, the glitzy venue is known for attracting famous singers, actors and sports stars.

It sits within Ortakoy, a lively neighbourhood triangulated by a Muslim mosque, Christian church and Jewish synagogue that is said to reflect "the religious freedom and mosaic in Turkey as a secular state".

The Reina, like the area, is also beloved to many visitors to the city.

"Reina is a must do when in Istanbul!" one tourist from Delhi raves online. "I have never been disappointed with the music there and that might just even be because who can complain when your (sic) dancing the night away with a breathtaking view."

Another, from London, describes it in similarly dreamy terms: "You can just sit there and watch all the beautiful people of the city".

After a turbulent year marked by an attempted coup and several deadly terror attacks, glamorous partygoers at the Reina will have been hoping that 2017 would bring better things for their country.

Instead, in the first hours of the new year, they were leaping into the Bosphorus to escape a gunman firing directly at them, looking to kill.

Of the 39 people confirmed dead, at least 15 were foreigners, reflecting the venue's popularity among international visitors.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Reina has been sealed off by police

Some have drawn comparisons with the massacre at Paris' Bataclan concert hall in November 2015, where terrorists killed 90 people.

Crowds there were watching the Eagles of Death Metal, a Californian rock band.

The Reina certainly is a more upmarket venue. Well-heeled visitors arrive by private boat, entering via the waterfront terrace.

But the attack, like those claimed by so-called Islamic State (IS) in Paris, targeted young people out having fun.

IS now says that one of its "soldiers" carried out the Reina attack, which occurred just a few days after a pro-IS group urged supporters to attack "celebrations, gatherings and clubs" in Europe during the holiday period.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Women who survived the attack return to the scene

The nightclub reportedly knew it could be a target. The Hurriyet newspaper quoted owner Mehmet Kocarslan saying that security measures in the neighbourhood had been stepped up in recent days after US intelligence warned of a possible attack.

The US Embassy in Ankara has said it did not have information about a specific threat to the Reina.

Less than a month ago, Reina's Facebook page posted a black and white photo of Istanbul's Vodafone Arena, where at least 44 people were killed in a double bomb attack on 10 December claimed by Kurdish militants.

"May our nation be safe. #Wecondemnterrorism" the post reads.

The football stadium is located just a few miles away from the waterfront nightclub. Now, terror has been brought to Reina's door.

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