Cihangir is among the first names everyone will mention if you ask İstanbulites to count the most beautiful and pure districts of the city. Located in Beyoglu, Cihangir is so close to the center and Taksim, but also so quiet, simple, and calm. It is among the few districts where the old neighborhood culture is preserved. Cihangir is one of the must-see places during your trip to İstanbul with its boutique cafes, narrow streets, old buildings, and of course, cats! In this article, we will take a brief look at the past of this sweet district and talk about what you can do when you come to Cihangir.
Cihangir in the Ottoman Period
Today, there is no pre-Ottoman information regarding the Cihangir region, which starts between Sıraselviler Street and Kazancı Slope and extends to Fındıklı. In the first known records belonging to the Ottoman Period that can be seen in the Encyclopedia of İstanbul from Yesterday to Today, it was recorded that unwanted women and men lived in the district. (1563) After the death of Şehzade Cihangir, the son of Suleiman the Magnificent and Hürrem Sultan, at a young age, a mosque (known as Cihangir Mosque) was built by Mimar Sinan in this region on a hill dominating İstanbul, and the district began to be known as Cihangir over time. Of course, these neighborhoods had not yet become residential areas during that period. In the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, the district was a location where people working in the entertainment venues in the vicinity lived. There were various brothels, and also luxury apartments belonging to the wealthy class. In the 1960s, when Taksim and Beyoğlu began to lose their old texture, Cihangir turned into a neglected and less popular neighborhood. Since the 1980s, with the flourishing of İstiklal Street and its surroundings, the district has become more popular, dominated by the foreign population, and especially preferred by the arts and culture community and young people. In the present time, Cihangir is one of the most livable districts of İstanbul with its unique texture and multicultural social life.
When visiting Cihangir...
Some of the things you should do when you visit Cihangir on your İstanbul trip:
-Drink something at Firuzağa Kahvesi.
-Sit on the famous Cihangir stairs and enjoy the view of the Bosphorus.
-Make a visit to Orhan Kemal Museum.
-Make sure to spend a couple of hours in the Çukurcuma, another popular neighborhood just next to Cihangir, famous for its antique shops and boutique cafes. Here you can also visit the Museum of Innocence, a 19th century memory-house created as a companion to Orhan Pamuk’s novel of the same name.
-Don't forget to pet the cats you will encounter at every step you take. They are quite accustomed to people and very friendly.
-Take lots of pictures on the steep and narrow streets.
-Visit boutique stores; you will come across very beautiful designs!