Cihangir is one of the most beautiful locations in Istanbul. It has been treasured by Istanbulites of all ages from past to present. It is one of the best districts for conveying the city’s rich historical texture to us, with its heritage buildings and romantic winding streets. This charming district has maintained its popularity in many different forms and throughout different periods of history. It has been a center of attraction for everyday life with its cafés and bars, and as a center of the city’s art scene with its museums. It is a vivid place with lots of opportunities to interact with the local cats and birds in the streets. Let’s take a closer look at the distinctive features of this special district.
A Historical Journey to the Streets of Cihangir…
Cihangir is located in the northern part of the Beyoglu section of Istanbul. This neighborhood rests on a downhill slope that extends from Siraselviler Street and Kazancı Slope to Findikli (another area famous for its many hills). The history of this district has seen it as a prosperous financial center, hosting many respectable businesses and banks. As far back as 1563, the area has also been a home for struggling and unfortunate women and men and has had times, such as the 1930s and 40s, where brothels and the wealthiest segments of the city coexisted side by side.
The district takes its name from Sehzade Cihangir, the son of Suleiman the Magnificent and Hurem Sultan. The district began with the Cihangir Mosque, which was built on a hill in the district by Architect Sinan upon the death of the sultan’s son at a young age. Settlement grew around this building, creating the dense neighbourhood of today. Many of the attractive concrete apartment buildings of Cihangir were constructed during the 20th century to avoid the fires caused by wooden houses in the 19th century. This style was especially popular as the area rapidly became more dense and populous. Cihangir suffered through a period of neglect after the departure of non-Muslims, as they had made up the vast majority of the population in the 1960s. But the area went through a period of renewal after 1980, after again being embraced by artists, and it is now a location of continuing social and cultural significance.
Places to See in Cihangir
In addition to exploring its narrow streets, enjoying dessert and coffee in its cafés, and providing many backdrops for excellent photos, Cihangir also offers experiences for specific areas of interest:
Museums: There are two museums in the region that will attract the attention of literature enthusiasts; the Orhan Kemal Museum and the Museum of Innocence in Cukurcuma. The Orhan Kemal museum, where Orhan Kemal’s personal belongings and photographs are exhibited, will allow you to take a mini journey into the past. The Museum of Innocence ( which attracts attention with its colorful brick building), offers a special experience inspired by Orhan Pamuk’s novel of the same title. It brings to life the settings and the characters of that novel.
Antique and vintage shops:If you are interested in antique household items or clothes, numerous shops in this region will be the perfect shopping stops for you. It is possible to find rare pieces at affordable prices here. You can visit the antique shops where you can find interesting pieces as well as historical baths and boutique cafés (as well as in the neighboring district of Cukurcuma).
Cihangir stairs: You will encounter the Cihangir stairs as you walk down from Kilic Ali Pasha District to Tophane. This will offer you a perfect place to spend a moment sitting or resting while enjoying a unique view of the Bosphorus.