UNESCO Man of the Year, 2011
Evliya Çelebi (1611 – 1684) was born in Constantinople (now Istanbul), the son of a goldsmith at the Ottoman court. As a student at the palace school, he began to write about his travels around the city, describing the people, customs and culture. Over the next 40 years, often as a representative of the court, he travelled widely to places such as the Middle East, Egypt and the Sudan, Bulgaria, Hungary, Austria, Greece, and Russia. Notes from his travels were later collected in ten volumes called the Seyahatname (The Book of Travels).
Now seen as an invaluable insight into the 17th century Ottoman Empire and surrounding countries, Çelebi’s writings nevertheless contain some exaggeration and descriptions of places and events he could not possibly have seen, but this does not detract from the importance of this marvellous work.
You can see a fascinating virtual exhibition about Celebi and The Book of Travel here: http://www.thebookoftravels.org/
The 1996 film, İstanbul Kanatlarımın Altında (Istanbul Beneath My Wings), portrays the lives of Çelebi and friends in 17th century Constantinople, and one of the earliest attempts at flight. You can read about the film here at IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0272142/plotsummary