UNESCO included the 400th anniversary of Ottoman traveler and scholar Evliya Celebi's birth to its timetable for celebration of anniversaries. Commemoration events for Evliya Celebi (1611-1682) will take place in 2011.
Celebi was born in Unkapani district of Istanbul in 1611 to a family from Aegean province of Kutahya. He began his travels in Istanbul, taking notes on buildings, markets, customs and culture; in 1640, he started his first journey outside the city.
His collection of notes from all of his travels formed a ten-volume work called the Seyahatname (Book of Travels).
Although many of the descriptions in this book were written in an exaggerated manner or were plainly inventive fiction or 3rd-source misinterpretation, his notes are widely accepted as a useful guide to the cultural aspects and lifestyle of 17th-century Ottoman Empire. The first volume deals exclusively with Istanbul, the final volume with Egypt. Despite being characterized as unreliable, the work is valued as both a study of Turkish culture and the lands he reports on.
Currently, there is no English translation of the entire work. There are translations of various parts of the Seyahatname, but not the whole. The longest single English translation was published in 1834 by Ritter Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall, an Austrian Orientalist; it may be found under the name "Evliya Efendi."
Von Hammer's work covers the first two volumes: Istanbul and Anatolia. The translation is by now quite antiquated, but other sections have been translated, such as Erich Prokosch's nearly complete German translations of the tenth volume. An introduction to the work entitled The World of Evliya Celebi: An Ottoman Mentality was published in 2004 written by University of Chicago professor Robert Dankoff.
Evliya is noted for having collected specimens from language he traveled in each region. There are some thirty Turkic dialects and languages cataloged in the Travelogue cataloged.
Meanwhile, in an exhibition opened in Strasbourg, the Council has recognized Evliya as one of the twenty major historical figures who played a significant role in bridging different cultures and civilizations.