Cihangir

Cihangir
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!

İstiklal Street

İstiklal Street
No matter who you ask which is the most famous street not only of İstanbul but of Turkey, the answer you will get is obvious... İstiklal Street, a place that is alive 24/7, brings together people of many different cultures from all over the world, where historical buildings, museums, famous cafes and restaurants, cinemas and theater halls, worship centers and entertainment venues coexist in a unique harmony that makes you dizzy when you first arrive but later becomes addictive; can be considered as the summary of İstanbul in a sense with its crowd, beauty, polyphony and high tempo. Let us briefly talk about the history and the most popular spots of this symbolic street, stretching from Taksim Square to Galata, with an average of 1 million visitors a day…

Pre-Ottoman
The story of İstiklal Street begins right after the Byzantine period. During the Byzantine period, the Galata region was a Genoa colony with churches and monasteries, where various Latin communities lived within the walls, and this side of the Golden Horn was called Pera (meaning “the opposite side”).

Ottoman Period - Grande Rue de Pera
After the city was conquered by the Ottomans in 1453, the Galata (Pera) region began to revive and develop further, and as a result, the communities living here gradually began to move beyond the city walls to the slopes overlooking the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn. Foreigners who came to this region started to build new buildings here and gave a new texture to the city. The French, who settled very close to today's İstiklal Street built the Palais de France here, and the street, highly influenced by French culture at the time, was named Grande Rue de Pera.

Muslim Settlements - Galata Mevlevi House & Asmalı Mescit
After the Galata Mevlevi House was built in 1491, Muslim communities started to settle on the street. During the same period, the mosque, known for its vines and named after the famous Asmalı Mescit Street (Vine Mosque) was built. Even though Muslim communities settled in the region during this period, the majority of the people of the region were still foreigners, and the street took its unique texture and culture from the foreign population.

Towards Today…
Known as Cadde-i Kebir (Great Mosque) in Ottoman Turkish, the street started from the Tower Gate near Galata Tower in the 17th century and extended to the barracks school known as Galata Palace. While listing the various buildings he saw here, traveler Eremya Çelebi mentioned the house of the Genoese ambassador, the Franciscan Church, the Dutch Embassy and the Terra Sainte Church. In the 18th century, the development and shaping of Beyoğlu continued around this street. It was in the 19th century that the current style of the street started to take shape.

İstiklal Street
The street was named İstiklal Street (Independence Street) after the proclamation of the republic after 1923. The street was a very lively and popular area with many theaters, cinemas, restaurants, hotels and patisseries located in this period, which can be said to be its golden age. Over the years, this cosmopolitan region where different cultures blended and many languages were spoken, started to lose its former luster and its rich cultural structure as a result of the departure of the foreign population, especially with the effect of policies against non-Muslims.

90s and Afterwards...
After the 90s, the street began to regain its former glory and multi-color with the restoration of old buildings, the opening of places such as bookstores, cafes, cinemas, art galleries, and the increase in the number of cultural events, and it turned into İstanbul's most popular culture, art and entertainment center. İstiklal Street continues its existence today not only as a shopping/art/entertainment center but also as a very important cultural value.

Places to See in İstiklal Street
Before we finish our article, we wanted to make a list of the must-see places on İstiklal Street for those who are planning to make a trip to İstanbul in near future... Here are some of the popular places you should consider visiting when you take a walk in the İstiklal Street:
Asmalı Mescit
St. Antoine Catholic Church
Beyoğlu Movie Theater
Narmanlı Han
Çiçek Passage
Madame Tussauds Museum
Pera Museum
Galata Mevlevi House
Aznavur Passage

Taksim Square

Taksim Square
Taksim Square, the center of İstanbul, one of the first places to be visited by both Turkish and foreign people coming to the city for the first time, and an area that has witnessed many important events in the history of the city, and the country, maintains its popularity today as the heart of the city. Entertainment, food & beverages, shopping, culture, arts, and more… Whatever you are looking for, just take a step into Taksim Square and then leave yourself to the flow of İstiklal Street, where hundreds of options are waiting for you… So what is the story of the famous Taksim Square?

The building that gave the Square its name: Maksem
Maksem was the name given to the buildings in the Ottoman period where the collected water was split up to be distributed. The word Taksim means “distribution” in Turkish and Taksim Square is named after the Maksem, which was built in 1732 to distribute water to the region. Still standing in the square today, this maksem is seen by everyone passing through, but only a few people pay attention to it or know its story.

The Past of the Square
Until the second quarter of the 18th century, Taksim Square was a promenade for Levantines (mostly used to describe the Christians who lived in port cities and engaged in trade) and Europeans living in Pera and was a plain area surrounded by cemeteries to the west and partly south.

As a result of the gradual growth of the Beyoğlu district and the increase in population in the 18th century, the available water resources began to be insufficient in the region. Upon this, Mahmut I implemented the project to bring a new and effective water line to the region, which was previously intended to be done but could not be started due to the Patrona Halil Rebellion (1730). In this water transport and distribution system, the water coming from the natural water resources in the north of the city reached the water reservoir built in Taksim via Hacı Osman Bayırı – Ayazağa – Levent – Mecidiyeköy – Şişli – Harbiye and was distributed to various regions from the adjacent Maksem.

Another building that has an important place in the historical development of the square is the Artillery Barracks, also known as Halil Paşa Artillery Barracks or Taksim Barracks. For more detailed information about these barracks, which was built in 1806 for the artillery class of Kapıkulu soldiers in the area where Gezi Park is today, you can visit our Gezi Park page. Opposite the barracks, the area used by the soldiers for training has turned into a district known today as Talimhane (Training House in English).

During the reign of Abdülmecid, Mecidiye Barracks (between 1846-1852) and Gümüşsuyu Military Hospital, known today as the İstanbul Technical University Taşkışla Building, were built. With the Gümüşsuyu Barracks completed later, and the Talimhane district mentioned above, Taksim began to gain a military texture. This situation contrasted with the Pera region, where Europeans lived at the time.

In 1913, Şişli and Beyoğlu were connected by an Electric Tram, which further increased the importance of the area. The courtyard of the Artillery Barracks, which lost its function, began to be used as a stadium in the 1920s (Taksim Stadium). In the following years, the barracks were completely demolished, and Gezi Park was built instead. The residence, which was built for the foreign director of the Electricity Administration in the 19th century, was demolished after World War II and was replaced by the Atatürk Cultural Center. Completed in 1928, the Cumhuriyet Anıtı (Republic Monument) and the buildings surrounding the square enabled Taksim to transform from an "empty area" into a city square over time.

Galata Kulesi

Galata Tower
Galata Tower is not only one of the most beautiful buildings in İstanbul, but also one of the most important symbols of this city... Let's take a small journey into the past of this famous building, which is an indispensable part of the city's skyline and is mentioned in legends, songs, and poems... This is the story of Galata Tower:

From Lighthouse to the Symbol of the City...
Galata Tower, one of the oldest towers in the world, was built in 528 by the Byzantine Emperor Anastasius and began to be used as a Lighthouse. The tower, which was destroyed during the Crusades in the 13th century, was reconstructed by the Genoese in 1348 using stacked stones as an addition to the Galata walls and was called the Tower of Christ (Christea Turris).

The Tower, which was raised between 1445 and 1446, underwent renovation and restoration works almost every century after İstanbul came under the domination of the Ottoman Empire. The tower served as a shelter for the Christian prisoners of war who were employed in the shipyards in Kasımpaşa in the 16th century.

In the 17th century, according to the records of Evliyâ Çelebi, one of the most famous travelers of our history, Hezarfen Ahmet Çelebi put his artificial eagle wings on his back and took off from the Galata Tower and glided all the way to Üsküdar.

Galata Tower, which served as a fire watchtower in the 18th century, was damaged by a fire during the Selim III period. The tower was repaired, but unfortunately, it was damaged again by a fire in the 19th century, and its cone was overturned in a big storm in 1875. Galata Tower gained its present appearance after a restoration between 1965 and 1967. UNESCO included Galata Tower in the World Heritage Tentative List in 2013.

Karaköy

Karaköy
Third-wave coffee shops, best fish restaurants, colorful and lively narrow streets, boutiques where you can find interesting products and a pier with a breathtaking view... These are some of the first things that come to mind when you think of Karaköy... In this article, we will talk about Karaköy, which is one of the most popular regions of Beyoğlu, especially among young people, and what you should definitely do here!

From Past to Present; Karaköy
Karaköy was a port area since Byzantine Empire. It is known that the Byzantine Emperor gave the Genoese merchants permission to live and trade in this region in the 1000s AD (remains of the Genoese wall can still be seen in the region). After the conquest of Istanbul, Genoese, Venetian and Catalan merchants, Ottoman citizens, Armenians, Greeks, Georgians and Jews lived in the region. By the end of the 15th century, half of the population was Muslim.

Karaköy, which stood out as a trade center for centuries, began to develop as a banking district at the end of the 19th century. The Ottoman Bank established its headquarters here and Austrian and Italian insurance companies opened branches here. In the 20th century, the region continued to develop, with increased commercial activities. Today, Karaköy is a very important point in both international and local passenger transportation, in addition to its social environment and colorful entertainment life that is active both day and night.

When Visiting Karaköy...
It is not possible to take a trip to Istanbul and not stop by at Karaköy! Some of the things you can do when you visit this sweet neighborhood are:
-Visit the historical Galata Simitçisi (bagel shop),
-Drink a nice coffee in third-wave coffee shops,
-Choose from a wide range of fine restaurants ranging from hamburgers to seafood and have a delicious meal,
-Definitely visit the boutiques where you can find interesting works by talented designers,
-Enjoy the Bosphorus view at the pier,
-Take a breath at the famous Kamondo Stairs,
-Take lots of pictures; you can be sure that you will capture very beautiful shots! Have fun already!

Gezi Park

Gezi Park
Gezi Park, which many people remember with the protests that started in İstanbul in 2013 and spread throughout the country in a short time, is only one of the many symbolic parks of İstanbul... Located in Beyoğlu - Taksim Square, the city center and the most popular point, Gezi Park is one of the focal points of both İstanbulites and travelers visiting the city with its privileged location and colorful ambiance...
If you want to learn more about this symbolic park and its interesting history, let's take a short journey to the past of Gezi Park, which has an important place in the history of Taksim Square…

Taksim Military Barracks and Taksim Stadium
If we want to tell the story of Gezi Park, we must first start with the Taksim Military Barracks. It is also known as Artillery Barracks -Taksim Barracks or Halil Pasha Artillery Barracks. It was built in the period of Selim III in 1806 for the artillery class of sultan's household troops in the area where Gezi Park is today. (The empty area opposite the barracks was the training place of the soldiers, which has now turned into the district known today as Talimhane (“Training House” in English)) The Artillery Barracks, which played an important role in the modernization of the Ottoman army in the late 19th century, began to lose its function in the early 20th century. In the early 1920s, it was decided that the vacated courtyard of the barracks should be used in sports competitions; and as a result, İstanbul's first stadium, Taksim Stadium, emerged. (Turkish national football team played its first official football match with Romania here on 26 October 1923, and this match ended in a 2-2 tie.)

Construction of Gezi Park
Taksim Stadium, which lost its importance with the construction of İnönü Stadium, and Artillery Barracks, which was then in ruins, were demolished in 1940 within the framework of the zoning plan prepared by urban planning expert Henri Prost. Taksim Gezi Park -also known as Taksim Gezi and İnönü Gezi- was built in place of the destroyed barracks.

The area covered by the park has shrunk over the years due to the areas allocated to the hotels built and other restrictions. However, Taksim Gezi Park remained a popular breathing space in the center of İstanbul visited by people of all ages.

İstanbul Nightlife

İstanbul Nightlife
İstanbul, the cultural capital of Turkey, is famous not only for its historical sites, famous restaurants, colorful social life and art events, but for its lively nightlife that never slows down... When it comes to nightlife in İstanbul, you will come across many entertainment options that appeal to different tastes. In this article, you can find general information about İstanbul nightlife, and popular venue recommendations!

Beyoğlu - Beşiktaş - Kadıköy Triangle
These famous districts, which are the most popular among the locals and also with tourists, offer many interesting options that appeal to every budget and taste when it comes to nightlife. Among venues ranging from student bars to exclusive nightclubs, shabby taverns, karaoke bars and stylish restaurants, you can discover many options suitable for you.

Beyoğlu and Taksim, the center of the city, can also be defined as the heart of the nightlife. Here, you can explore many venues, from lively clubs where you can dance wildly until the morning, to stylish bars and restaurants where you can have a drink and chat in a warm and calm atmosphere. Some of the prominent venues of Beyoğlu nightlife are:
Nardis Jazz Club (Galata)
Minimüzikhol (Cihangir)
Peyote (Taksim)
Klein.Garten (Taksim)
James Joyce Irish Pub (Taksim)
Rock n’ Rolla (Taksim)
Tektekçi (Tomtom)
Lebi-i Derya (Taksim)

Another popular entertainment area of the European Side is of course Beşiktaş... Here, you can have a pleasant time in popular bars in the region known as "Çarşı" or dance with quality music in exclusive nightclubs in Ortaköy region. Some of the popular venues of Beşiktaş nightlife are:
W Lounge (Akaretler)
Sefarad Meyhane (Ortaköy)
Jungle 8 (Levent)
Sortie (Kuruçeşme)
Elma Pub (Çarşı)

When we cross to the opposite side of Bosphorus, Kadıköy's young energy and fast-paced entertainment venues welcome us. It is possible to find options suitable for every taste and budget in Kadıköy, a region with a high student population. Some of the prominent Kadıköy entertainment venues are:
Arka Oda (Merkez)
Karga (Merkez)
Old Sailor Irish Pub (Merkez)
Kayıkhane (Moda)

Concert Venues You Should Know
Surely İstanbul's entertainment life is not limited to bars, clubs and restaurants. The concert areas where many world-famous artists of different styles (both local and foreign) perform every year, are also an important part of the entertainment life of the city. Some of İstanbul's foremost concert venues are:
Babylon (Şişli)
Zorlu Center Performing Arts Center (Beşiktaş)
Volkswagen Arena (Maslak)
Jolly Joker (Taksim)
Kuruçeşme Arena (Beşiktaş)
Küçükçiftlik Park (Beşiktaş)